The WSIA Weekly, 7.22.16

Court of Appeals publishes interesting State Fund case

Yesterday, Seattle-based Division I of the Court of Appeals published an interesting, if convoluted, workers’ compensation decision involving a seriously injured residential construction laborer paid weekly in cash, a company’s belated payment of workers’ comp premiums after assessment by the Department, and an apparently related company’s attempt to claim the worker as a covered employee to avoid third party liability. Whereas the company first told the laborer he was not an employee to avoid workers’ comp coverage, now the laborer claims he is not an employee to get outside of workers’ comp and sue for negligence. The court sent it back for trial on whether the laborer is an employee or not, and for whom. Bottom line: courts aren’t going to let an employer pay cash for labor, avoid workers’ comp premiums until assessed, and then claim workers’ comp’s exclusive remedy. Read the decision here.

 Department announces public hearings on two medical rule changes

This week, the Department has announced public hearings on two different health policy-related rulemaking efforts. First, on August 23rd at 1:30 pm at L&I headquarters in Tumwater, the Department will take testimony on a proposed rule to pay Advanced Registered Nurse Practitioners on par with other attending providers. Right now, ARNPs are paid 90 percent of fee schedule for their services. Members with opinions on this rule can attend the hearing or submit comments by e-mail to by 5:00 p.m. on August 23rd. Second, on August 26th at 11:00 a.m., also in Tumwater, there will be a public hearing on a proposed rule to adopt a non-coverage determination for lumbar fusion for uncomplicated degenerative disc disease and make some housekeeping changes to the rules related to Structured Intensive Multidisciplinary Pain Programs (SIMPPS). Members with opinions on this rule can attend the hearing or submit comments by e-mail to by 5:00 p.m. on August 26th.      

 Feedback requested on proposed changes to two claims policies

Earlier this week, the Department of Labor & Industries released two claims administration policies for comment and feedback. The first is proposed to clarify and extend to self-insured employers the policy around reimbursing workers for lost wages for attending an independent medical examination or closing examination. You can read that draft policy here. The second is proposed to clarify current practices related to so-called “over-7 re-openings” of old claims upon the L&I Director’s discretion. You can read that draft policy here. We direct your attention in particular to the portions of this draft related to criteria guiding the Director’s discretion. Feedback and comments, if any, are due back to by next Friday, July 29th.   

 Deadline approaching for feedback on OSHA interim rule on penalties

As a reminder, an Interim Final Rule was published without advance notice or public comment earlier this month, effective August 1, that significantly expands OSHA penalties as part of the federal cost-of-living “catch up” on various civil penalties. As part of that abbreviated federal rulemaking procedure, interested parties are able to submit after-the-fact comments to OSHA about the penalty increases by August 15th. The full rule and information about it, as well as how to make comments, are available at this link.

 IIMAC to meet next Thursday

The state’s Industrial Insurance Medical Advisory Committee is holding its next scheduled meeting on July 28th from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. at the Beijing Room at SeaTac airport. View the agenda here. The committee’s discussion of the work-relatedness of Carpal Tunnel Syndrome in keyboarding and mousing looks particularly interesting, and is likely to factor into further treatment guideline development this fall. IIMAC meetings are open to the public, including by teleconference (dial in information on the linked agenda).