Minnesota's Labor Commissioner Promises Comp Reform

Steve Sviggum, commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, promises to propose a legislative package of workers' compensation reforms for the 2009 session that he calls "critically important to all employees, employers, insurers and providers." His proposals probably will carry unusual weight: Sviggum was in his 15th term in the Minnesota House of Representatives and had served as speaker, minority leader, and chair of the Unemployment Insurance and Workers' Compensation Division of the House Labor-Management Relations Committee before being appointed last year to his current post.

He recently appointed members to four newly created workers' compensation advisory work groups that will meet monthly and report their recommendations to DLI's Workers' Compensation Advisory Council, which consists of both business and labor members. He also has sought help from comp experts from several other states.

The working groups and their deadlines to submit recommendations are the Work Group on Billing and Auditing Processes (Sept. 1, 2008); the Work SubGroup on Repricing Industry (July 1, 2008); the Work Group on Employer Choice Health Care Benefits (Oct. 1, 2008); and the Work Group on Vocational Rehabilitation (Aug. 1, 2008).

"In addition to the work groups, DLI will work with its stakeholders to improve and streamline the system's dispute resolution processes and reduce frustration for injured workers and businesses that pay the worker's compensation bill," Sviggum said in a news release unveiling his plan. "While change is a common promise in state government, please know our agency and its stakeholders are moving forward to improve our state's workers' compensation system." For work group meeting times and dates, visit www.doli.state.mn.us/wcac.html.

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