Re: What is great about 220?

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Posted by Tom Mattis on March 12, 1999 at 12:39:32:

In Reply to: What is great about 220? posted by John Lewis on March 11, 1999 at 22:09:09:

Dear Mr. Lewis,

In response to your question about "what is great
about SB 220," I will explain why we introduced it.
Whether or not it is good or "great" public policy
is for the Legislature to decide.

About three years ago we began looking at the very
large range of responsibilities we were charged with
under the law. A great many duties and staff had been
added in 1990 and 1997 and we had grown very large.

We looked at what had changed over the last 10 years,
and tried to determine what duties we had that were
either obsolete, out-moded or did not have to be
done by government.

Processing a workers' compensation claim, including
closing a claim and rating impairment, is performed
in 50 states and the US territories. Of the 47 states
in which private insurers provide workers' compensation
insurance, in almost all of them the insurer closes
the claim. Claim closure is not a duty which must be
done by government and, in fact, rarely is.

In addition, insurers in Oregon were given the choice
10 years ago whether to close claims or send them to
WCD. You are correct, that we only close about 25% of
claims now. Clearly, insurers are more than capable of
doing the job. It is interesting to note that when
the law was changed to give insurers the choice to
close claims, no one opposed giving them that authority.
To raise the argument now that SB 220 harms workers
rings rather hollow.

Moreover, unlike 10 years, WCD has a mandatory reconsideration
process which gives a worker who is dissatisfied with
the claim clsoure or disability award to have impartial
disability experts in WCD review whether the insurer
closed the claim properly. It is interesting that
workers do not appeal insurer closures at any greater rate
than they appeal WCD's closures.

The Management-Labor Advisory Committee and auditors
for the Secretary of State have endorsed SB 220, as
has the Governor by virtue of inlcuing it in his
1999 Legislative Agenda.

I understand how you may view this as symbolic of
other changes you feel harms workers, but it is
just that. If we felt that this bill was truly going
to harm workers (or employers)we would not have
introduced it.

I respect your opposition to the bill, and it is
important that the Legislature hear your
concerns. I appreciate having the opportunity to
respond to your comments.


Tom Mattis

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