The Bureau Bulletin - May 2018News and Updates from the Tennessee Bureau of Workers’ Compensation | May 2018
21st WC Educational Conference
Registration is open and the agenda is set for the 21st Workers Compensation Educational Conference. Join us in "Building a Better Tomorrow" at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro, TN on June 6-8 2018.
- Multi-generation in the same workforce
- Increased use of robots and artificial intelligence
- Aging workers and their needs
- The need to approach claims handling differently based on demographics
The conference has been approved for 13.75 hours CLE, including 3.0 hours of dual credits which are required annually for Tennessee attorneys! The conference also qualifies for 13.5 general hours of CDMS. Applications for other organizations are pending.
Miss Tennessee, Caty Davis, who is heavily involved in the Governor's TN Together Campaign to fight opioid abuse will be joining us this year! She will be a panelist on one of our sessions and appear at the Kids' Chance Reception.
Adjuster Certification Program
We opened and filled our first class for the Bureau's first Adjuster Certification Program within three days. Wow! Thank you for your overwhelming interest! We believe this two-day program gives insurance adjusters key insight into Tennessee-specific laws, programs, issues, and best practices. Achieve recognition from the Bureau and distinguish yourself from your competitors by participating in this training offered by Bureau staff.
The second adjuster training will be in Nashville on July 25-26, 2018. Watch our announcements page for updates on registration information.
Contact Jeff Francis, Assistant Administrator, at firstname.lastname@example.org or 615-253-6269
- Medical Fee Schedule Rules
- Highlights: View a summary of the changes of the Fee Schedule rules for services rendered on or after February 25, 2018, regardless of the date of injury.
- Effective: February 25, 2018
- Statistical Data Form SD-2 Rules
- Highlights: The new SD-2 Form replaces SD-1 for all claims that conclude by settlement or are resolved by trial, including settlements that close future medical benefits or benefits provided after the expiration of the initial compensation period.
- Effective: May 6, 2018
- Drug-Free Workplace Program Rules
- Highlights: Easier to understand language, point-of-collection testing procedures, clear instructions on how to handle an employee's inability to provide or refusal to provide a sample, Employee and Employer Protections, and suggestions for all required training.
- Effective: May 6, 2018
- General Workers' Compensation Rules
- Less time for providing medical panels, clearer language regarding walk-in/urgent care facilities on panels, and the use of Nurse Practitioners and Physical Assistants in treatment.
- Effective: May 31, 2018
- Adjuster Certification Rules (voluntary program)
- Highlights: Opportunities for adjusters and adjusting entities to achieve recognition from the Bureau and their ability to distinguish themselves from their competitors by participating in training offered by Bureau staff.
- Effective: May 31, 2018
- e-Billing Rules
- Highlights: Clarification on the mandatory implementation date for all parties was changed is reflected in the final section of the rules
- Effective: July 1, 2018
- Claims Handling Standards
- Highlights: Requirements for adjusting entities to designate a liaison to the Bureau to serve as a primary point of contact, clarification on the steps to file claims if the SSN is missing or unknown, deletion of the requirements to have a claims office in the state, and new requirements for making contact with the injured employee.
- Effective: August 2, 2018
Familiar Faces at Forum for Foundations Program
Our Madeline Shelly and Matthew Keen were both selected for this year's International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC) Foundations of Workers' Compensation Administration Program, which is only open to jurisdictional agency staff. The Foundations program involves comprehensive coursework on fundamental workers' compensation regulatory and administrative topics to better examine similarities and differences across systems. The program runs from March through June, and the coursework is comprised of online modules, webinars, teleconferences, writing assignments, and a final assessment. Upon successful completion of the coursework and passing the final assessment, a digital certification is awarded to each of the participants.
One of the required courses in the Principles of Workers' Compensation course, which is a face-to-face session held on the first day of the IAIABC Forum in Atlanta in April 2018. Participants engaged in discussion with peers from other jurisdictions across the country and abroad about current issues in the industry, developing research, emerging trends, innovations, and potential solutions.
Matthew Keen reflects on the event, "While I am not yet finished with the program, just the Forum alone was a worthwhile experience...No system is perfect, as there is always room for improvement, and I believe maintaining an open dialogue on 'what works' and 'what doesn't' enables us to better learn from one another."
2018 WC Legislative Changes
Maximum & Minimum Benefit Changes
- Temporary Benefits - The maximum weekly benefit rate for injuries occurring July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, is $1,021.90 or 110% of the state's average weekly wage.
- Permanent Benefits - The maximum weekly benefit rate for injuries occurring July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, is $929.00, or 100% of the state's average weekly wage.
- Minimum Weekly Benefit -The minimum weekly benefit rate for injuries occurring July 1, 2018, through June 30, 2019, for both temporary and permanent benefits is $139.35.
Farm and Agricultural Employers
- Public Chapter 629 (SB2141 by Gresham/HB205 by Halford):
- Allows farm and agricultural to accept the workers' compensation chapter by purchasing a workers' compensation insurance policy; allows a farm or agricultural employer to withdraw acceptance of the workers' compensation chapter at any time by canceling or not renewing the policy and providing notice to its employees
- Governor Haslam signed Public Chapter 629 into law on April 2, 2018, and it became effective upon signing.
- Public Chapter 757 (SB2475 by Roberts/HB2304 by Beck) makes the following statutory changes:
- Extends termination date to June 30, 2020, on recovery of attorney fees and other costs against an employer in a workers' compensation action who wrongfully denies a claim and then the workers' compensation judge subsequently makes a finding that such benefits were owed at an expedited hearing or compensation hearing; defines wrongfully as erroneous, incorrect, or otherwise inconsistent with the law or facts.
- Governor Haslam signed Public Chapter 709 into law on April 12, 2018, and it became effective upon signing.
- Public Chapter 648 (SB1967 by Watson/HB1978 by Marsh):
- Provides that a marketplace contractor is an independent contractor and not an employee of the marketplace platform for all purposes under state and local laws, rules, ordinances, and resolutions if certain conditions are set forth in a written agreement between the marketplace platform and the marketplace contractor.
- Governor Haslam signed Public Chapter 648 into law on April 9, 2018, and it becomes effective July 1, 2018, for services provided through a marketplace platform on or after that date.
- Public Chapter 563 (SB1521 by Bell/HB1615 by Faison):
- Extends the bureau of workers' compensation for six years to June 30, 2024.
- Governor Haslam signed Public Chapter 563 into law on March 16, 2018, and it became effective upon signing.
- Public Chapter 513 (SB1544 by Bell/HB1652 by Faison):
- Extends the medical advisory committee for six years to June 30, 2024.
- Governor Haslam signed Public Chapter 513 into law on February 22, 2018, and it became effective upon signing.
- Public Chapter514 (SB1545 by Bell/HB1653 by Faison):
- Extends the medical payment committee for six years to June 30, 2024.
- Governor Haslam signed Public Chapter 514 into law on February 22, 2018, and it became effective upon signing.
For a complete, detailed review of this information and all workers' compensation bills introduced in this legislative session, please go to www.capitol.tn.gov.
Standing on Outstanding
Mediation works. We are happy to share a recent story of a case turned upside-down thanks to the excellent work of one of our mediators.
Mr. C is a self-represented litigant. The defense attorney recently filed a Motion to Continue and to move the Scheduling Hearing deadlines. [The judge] issued an order requiring the parties to proceed with the post-discovery ADR and set a hearing on the motion to continue for May 8th in case the parties were unable to resolve the case at the mediation. Mr. C was frustrated/angry/upset about the recent events and stated he absolutely would not consider any settlement offers. Well, Jamie Weatherly conducted the mediation today and settled the case! Kudos to Jamie for handling a difficult situation and helping the parties reach a resolution that none thought was possible!