Wisconsin Businesses Demand to be Heard by Legislators on Workers Compensation Reform

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Nearly 50 Wisconsin Executives Show Employer Outcry for Medical Fee Schedule

MADISON – On Thursday, 49 business leaders from across the state and all types of industry sectors sent a letter to legislators calling on them to reform Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation system by implementing a medical fee schedule.

In the letter, they outline the high costs and competitive disadvantages they face because of current law:

“These higher costs have become a significant competitiveness issue for our businesses. We cannot afford to pay two and sometimes three-times as much as our competitors for the exact same procedures.

“Forty-four other states have addressed this problem by enacting a medical fee schedule. We strongly urge you to do the same by supporting the reform package unanimously endorsed by the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council.”

Wisconsin has had a good record of reform since 2011, and the business climate has improved. But, skyrocketing health care costs continue to be a top issue employers face and a medical fee schedule would be at least one step state legislators could take right now to make the Badger State more “Open for Business.”

Proponents of the status quo cite a drop in worker’s compensation insurance rates as reason to block any reforms. They hope lawmakers will not notice that the rates fell due to reduced injuries and workplace risks improving, not because of anything to do with medical costs. In fact, medical costs continue to go up year over year and keep insurance rates higher than they otherwise would be.

“Medical providers and their advocates point to the modest drop in insurance rates as a reason we don’t need reform, but they’re missing the big picture,” said Bob Kamphuis, Chairman, President & CEO of Mayville Engineering Company. “Even with that rate reduction, our work comp insurance rates in Wisconsin are about twice as much as our facility in Michigan. Anyone who thinks we don’t have a problem with medical costs in work comp is ignoring the data and ignoring employers.”

According to the Worker’s Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), Wisconsin’s medical costs are 46 percent higher than the national median and 61 percent higher from injuries that require more than one week off of work.

The attached letter is being sent to legislators urging them to enact a medical fee schedule before going home in 2018.

This is one of those rare issues where private sector employers, local governments and labor unions all agree we have a problem, and we agree on the solution,” said Scott Manley, WMC Senior Vice President of Government relations. “Given the broad support for these reforms, including 56 business groups, there’s no excuse for failing to get this passed this session.”

Unfortunately, some legislators have failed to understand the importance of this legislation to the business community. Employers, both large and small, public and private, will benefit from worker’s compensation reform. Without it, these high costs will continue to deter economic development and result in higher costs for consumers.

“The only opposition to this reform is from the medical providers who are using a government mandate to gouge businesses,” added Manley. “Forty-four other states have put a stop to this price gouging – when will lawmakers provide relief to Wisconsin employers?”

The 49 executives who authored the letter concluded with a simple plea for legislators to hear them.

“As employers, we cannot afford to squander another session where the legislature fails to address this growing problem,” they wrote. “We need your leadership. Please support the Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council agreed-bill and bring Wisconsin medical costs under control.”

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