Legislature(2005 - 2006)BUTROVICH 205

04/07/2005 08:30 AM JUDICIARY

Download Mp3. <- Right click and save file as

Audio Topic
08:10:44 AM Start
08:13:35 AM SB130
10:53:13 AM Adjourn
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
-- Recessed to 8:00 am April 8 --
Scheduled But Not Heard
Scheduled But Not Heard
+ Bills Previously Heard/Scheduled TELECONFERENCED
Heard & Held
Scheduled But Not Heard
                    ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE                                                                                  
              SENATE JUDICIARY STANDING COMMITTEE                                                                             
                         April 7, 2005                                                                                          
                           8:10 a.m.                                                                                            
MEMBERS PRESENT                                                                                                               
Senator Ralph Seekins, Chair                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins, Vice Chair                                                                                             
Senator Gene Therriault                                                                                                         
Senator Hollis French                                                                                                           
Senator Gretchen Guess                                                                                                          
MEMBERS ABSENT                                                                                                                
All members present                                                                                                             
COMMITTEE CALENDAR                                                                                                            
SENATE BILL NO. 140                                                                                                             
"An   Act   relating   to  spyware   and   unsolicited   Internet                                                               
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 132                                                                                                             
"An  Act  relating  to  complaints  filed  with,  investigations,                                                               
hearings, and orders  of, and the interest rate on  awards of the                                                               
State Commission for Human  Rights; making conforming amendments;                                                               
and providing for an effective date."                                                                                           
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
SENATE BILL NO. 130                                                                                                             
"An Act relating  to a special deposit  for workers' compensation                                                               
and  employers' liability  insurers;  relating  to assigned  risk                                                               
pools; relating  to workers'  compensation insurers;  stating the                                                               
intent  of   the  legislature,   and  setting   out  limitations,                                                               
concerning the  interpretation, construction,  and implementation                                                               
of workers'  compensation laws; relating  to the  Alaska Workers'                                                               
Compensation   Board;    assigning   certain    Alaska   Workers'                                                               
Compensation  Board   functions  to  the  division   of  workers'                                                               
compensation   in  the   Department   of   Labor  and   Workforce                                                               
Development and to that department,  and authorizing the board to                                                               
delegate administrative  and enforcement duties to  the division;                                                               
establishing   a   Workers'  Compensation   Appeals   Commission;                                                               
providing for workers' compensation  hearing officers in workers'                                                               
compensation  proceedings;  relating   to  workers'  compensation                                                               
medical benefits and  to charges for and payment of  fees for the                                                               
medical benefits; relating to  agreements that discharge workers'                                                               
compensation   liability;  relating   to  workers'   compensation                                                               
awards;  relating to  reemployment benefits  and job  dislocation                                                               
benefits; relating  to coordination of workers'  compensation and                                                               
certain  disability benefits;  relating to  division of  workers'                                                               
compensation records;  relating to release of  treatment records;                                                               
relating to an  employer's failure to insure and  keep insured or                                                               
provide  security;   providing  for  appeals   from  compensation                                                               
orders; relating to  workers' compensation proceedings; providing                                                               
for  supreme  court jurisdiction  of  appeals  from the  Workers'                                                               
Compensation Appeals  Commission; providing for a  maximum amount                                                               
for  the  cost-of-living  adjustment  for  workers'  compensation                                                               
benefits;   relating  to   attorney  fees;   providing  for   the                                                               
department to  enter into contracts with  nonprofit organizations                                                               
to  provide  information  services and  legal  representation  to                                                               
injured  employees; providing  for  administrative penalties  for                                                               
employers  uninsured or  without adequate  security for  workers'                                                               
compensation; relating to fraudulent  acts or false or misleading                                                               
statements in  workers' compensation  and penalties for  the acts                                                               
or  statements;  providing for  members  of  a limited  liability                                                               
company to  be included as  an employee for purposes  of workers'                                                               
compensation;  establishing  a   workers'  compensation  benefits                                                               
guaranty  fund;  relating  to  the  second  injury  fund;  making                                                               
conforming amendments;  providing for a  study and report  by the                                                               
medical  services   review  committee;   and  providing   for  an                                                               
effective date."                                                                                                                
     HEARD AND HELD                                                                                                             
SENATE BILL NO. 128                                                                                                             
"An  Act   relating  to  consideration  by   the  Local  Boundary                                                               
Commission of a requested borough incorporation."                                                                               
     SCHEDULED BUT NOT HEARD                                                                                                    
PREVIOUS COMMITTEE ACTION                                                                                                     
BILL: SB 130                                                                                                                  
SHORT TITLE: WORKERS' COMPENSATION                                                                                              
SPONSOR(s): RULES BY REQUEST OF THE GOVERNOR                                                                                    
03/03/05       (S)       READ THE FIRST TIME - REFERRALS                                                                        
03/03/05       (S)       L&C, FIN                                                                                               
03/08/05       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/08/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/08/05       (S)       MINUTE (L&C)                                                                                           
03/10/05       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/10/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/10/05       (S)       MINUTE (L&C)                                                                                           
03/15/05       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/15/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/15/05       (S)       MINUTE (L&C)                                                                                           
03/17/05       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/17/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/17/05       (S)       MINUTE (L&C)                                                                                           
03/22/05       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/22/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/22/05       (S)       MINUTE (L&C)                                                                                           
03/24/05       (S)       L&C AT 2:00 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/24/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
03/24/05       (S)       MINUTE (L&C)                                                                                           
03/29/05       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/29/05       (S)       -- Meeting Canceled --                                                                                 
03/31/05       (S)       L&C AT 1:30 PM BELTZ 211                                                                               
03/31/05       (S)       Moved CSSB 130(L&C) Out of Committee                                                                   
03/31/05       (S)       MINUTE (L&C)                                                                                           
04/01/05       (S)       L&C RPT CS 2DP 1NR 2AM NEW TITLE                                                                       
04/01/05       (S)       DP: BUNDE, STEVENS B                                                                                   
04/01/05       (S)       NR: SEEKINS                                                                                            
04/01/05       (S)       AM: DAVIS, ELLIS                                                                                       
04/01/05       (S)       JUD REFERRAL ADDED AFTER L&C                                                                           
04/05/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/05/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/05/05       (S)       MINUTE (JUD)                                                                                           
04/06/05       (S)       JUD AT 8:30 AM BUTROVICH 205                                                                           
04/06/05       (S)       Heard & Held                                                                                           
04/06/05       (S)       MINUTE (JUD)                                                                                           
WITNESS REGISTER                                                                                                              
Mr. Paul Lisanki, Director                                                                                                      
Division of Worker's Compensation                                                                                               
Department of Labor & Workforce Development                                                                                     
PO Box 21149                                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK 99802-1149                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 130                                                                                      
Ms. Linda Hall, Director                                                                                                        
Division of Insurance                                                                                                           
550 W. 7 Ave Suite 1560                                                                                                         
Anchorage, AK 99501                                                                                                             
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 130                                                                                      
Ms. Marjorie Linder, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor                                                                        
Division of Worker's Compensation                                                                                               
Department of Labor & Workforce Development                                                                                     
PO Box 21149                                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK 99802-1149                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 130                                                                                      
Mr. Jim Jordan, Executive Director                                                                                              
Alaska State Medical Association                                                                                                
4107 Laurel St.                                                                                                                 
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 130                                                                                      
Mr. Steve Constantino, Hearing Officer                                                                                          
Alaska Worker's Compensation Board                                                                                              
Division of Worker's Compensation                                                                                               
Department of Labor & Workforce Development                                                                                     
PO Box 21149                                                                                                                    
Juneau, AK 99802-1149                                                                                                           
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 130                                                                                      
Mr. Michael Jensen, Attorney                                                                                                    
12350 Industrial Way                                                                                                            
Anchorage, AK                                                                                                                   
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 130                                                                                      
Mr. William Fehrenbach, Director State Government Affairs                                                                       
Minneapolis, MN                                                                                                                 
POSITION STATEMENT:  Commented on SB 130                                                                                      
ACTION NARRATIVE                                                                                                              
CHAIR RALPH SEEKINS called the Senate Judiciary Standing                                                                      
Committee meeting to order at 8:10:44 AM. Present were Senators                                                               
Hollis French, Gretchen Guess, and Chair Ralph Seekins.                                                                         
CHAIR SEEKINS informed the committee and the gallery of his                                                                     
intended process in reviewing SB 130.                                                                                           
                  SB 130-WORKERS' COMPENSATION                                                                              
8:13:35 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS  asked Ms.  Linda Hall  to continue  testimony from                                                               
the previous  day. He asked  whether she  had any ideas  that the                                                               
Legislature should be considering.                                                                                              
8:14:55 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. LINDA HALL admitted she has  ideas although she does not have                                                               
experience in worker's compensation.                                                                                            
8:17:11 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. PAUL  LISANKI, director,  Division of  Worker's Compensation,                                                               
Department of Labor and  Workforce Development (DOLWD), commented                                                               
on  a  letter sent  to  Senator  Seekins  office from  the  DOLWD                                                               
containing information  regarding worker's compensation  in other                                                               
states. The  overview is taken  from a Department of  Labor (DOL)                                                               
publication.  Some   states  have   placed  limitations   on  the                                                               
benefits.  Appendix  A is  a  list  of recommendations  from  the                                                               
National Commission  on State Workmen's Compensation  Laws. Table                                                               
4  lists   two  specific  recommendations  relating   to  medical                                                               
8:19:17 AM                                                                                                                    
The information  given to  the committee  by the  DOLWD addresses                                                               
the  question of  whether it  is possible  to put  limitations on                                                               
medical benefits. Whether medical  benefits should be limited due                                                               
to the passage  of time would be contrary  to the recommendations                                                               
of  the National  Commission. It  is  not done  in other  states.                                                               
There  are  a  number  of states  that  have  considered  medical                                                               
benefits and  they have some  controls over unlimited  payment of                                                               
benefits. For example,  Florida has a provision  for a co-payment                                                               
that  would  start  after  the  injury  reached  maximum  medical                                                               
8:21:45 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR   SEEKINS   noted   Appendix    A   gives   the   essential                                                               
recommendations. He asked Mr. Lisanki how Alaska compares.                                                                      
MR.  LISANKI  answered  Table 1  explains  how  Alaska  compares.                                                               
According  to   the  DOL   Alaska  is  meeting   14  of   the  19                                                               
8:25:39 AM                                                                                                                    
The  maximum  amount  that  may   be  paid  for  temporary  total                                                               
disability for a week off varies from state to state.                                                                           
8:27:23 AM                                                                                                                    
MS. HALL  stated there  are a significant  number of  states that                                                               
have  a state  fund of  some form.  Washington is  a monopolistic                                                               
state and  has no private  insurers. Employers  purchase worker's                                                               
compensation coverage through a state mechanism.                                                                                
8:32:58 AM                                                                                                                    
MS.   MARJORIE  LINDER,   vocational  rehabilitation   counselor,                                                               
Division of  Worker's Compensation, introduced herself.  She said                                                               
contrary to the hype, SB  130 reduces benefits. Section 15 offers                                                               
no  benefit at  all.  An injured  worker may  find  that s/he  is                                                               
disqualified from  retraining. Without legal  representation, the                                                               
injured worker  may not know  what s/he  is signing. $5,000  is a                                                               
relatively  small sum  of money  when required  to sign  away for                                                               
life any  future ability to  have retraining. SB 130  would allow                                                               
this  to  be done  with  no  oversight  by  the Board,  no  legal                                                               
council, no information conveyed.                                                                                               
8:35:51 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Charlie Huggins joined the committee.                                                                                   
MS. LINDER  continued it is bad  public policy to give  workers a                                                               
hand  out in  lieu  of  a hand  up.  She  suggested removing  the                                                               
language  concerning  stipulation.  People   often  do  not  have                                                               
adequate information in order to make an informed decision.                                                                     
8:37:59 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  HOLLIS  FRENCH asked  Ms.  Linder  whether her  position                                                               
would change if  the person making the  decision were represented                                                               
by an attorney.                                                                                                                 
MS. LINDER  agreed that would be  a tremendous help. She  said no                                                               
attorney in  their right mind  would advise their client  to take                                                               
the job dislocation  benefit because it is so  exploitive and the                                                               
risks are tremendous.                                                                                                           
8:38:59 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  asked Ms.  Linder  whether  she had  any  further                                                               
MS.  LINDER  added   she  wanted  Section  15  taken   out  as  a                                                               
disqualifier for the reemployment benefit.                                                                                      
8:41:15 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR   GUESS   asked   Mr.   Lisanki   the   requirements   of                                                               
communication to the injured worker.                                                                                            
MR.  LISANKI answered  currently under  statute the  reemployment                                                               
benefits are  optional at  the choice of  the injured  worker. SB                                                               
130  would  not change  that.  The  DOL  has concerns  under  the                                                               
current statutes that the injured  worker does not stay informed.                                                               
They can  call the DOL,  and can be  apprised of their  rights by                                                               
their  employer, and  there is  also pamphlet  information. Since                                                               
1988 the  Legislature has said  in order to receive  the benefits                                                               
an injured worker  must request them within 90  days of reporting                                                               
the injury unless there are extenuating circumstances.                                                                          
8:43:52 AM                                                                                                                    
The Worker's  Compensation Board  has basically amended  the law.                                                               
There are  regulations that define  things that  happen routinely                                                               
as unusual  and extenuating. It  is troubling when people  lose a                                                               
benefit they don't know about.  SB 130 would redefine the trigger                                                               
for getting the benefit.                                                                                                        
8:45:07 AM                                                                                                                    
Certain triggers happen  and either the employee  or the employer                                                               
or  the insurer  asks for  an evaluation  of eligibility  for the                                                               
benefit. If  the administrator finds  the triggers are  met, they                                                               
assign the job of assessing  eligibility to Ms. Linder or someone                                                               
like  her.  Based on  the  analysis  this  person  is or  is  not                                                               
eligible and they can appeal.                                                                                                   
8:47:43 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH said he intended  to propose an amendment that the                                                               
injured  worker must  sign up  for  a rehabilitation  specialist.                                                               
Section 16 now requires a  person to either chose reemployment or                                                               
job dislocation with no option of going back.                                                                                   
8:49:19 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LISANKI commented that is currently how the system works.                                                                   
SENATOR  FRENCH  understood the  job  dislocation  aspect is  not                                                               
currently in statute.                                                                                                           
MR. LISANKI affirmed.                                                                                                           
CHAIR SEEKINS announced a brief recess at 8:50:10 AM.                                                                         
CHAIR SEEKINS reconvened the meeting at 8:52:01 AM.                                                                           
MR.  LISANKI  said  currently  an  employee  has  15  days  after                                                               
receiving notification  of eligibility.  An employee  who desires                                                               
to  use those  benefits  shall give  written  notice within  that                                                               
period. Failure  to give notice constitutes  non-cooperation with                                                               
the benefit.                                                                                                                    
CHAIR SEEKINS commented the basic difference is the cash option.                                                                
8:53:59 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH asked the purpose of the reemployment benefit.                                                                   
MR.  LISANKI  explained  it  is  to give  the  injured  worker  a                                                               
different opportunity to go back to work.                                                                                       
8:55:22 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS asked  Mr.  Lisanki to  comment  on the  suggested                                                               
amendments before the committee.                                                                                                
MR.  LISANKI reiterated  his previous  testimony that  the system                                                               
can  work   with  allowing  injured  workers   and  employers  to                                                               
stipulate  to  eligibility.  Section  15  regarding  waiving  the                                                               
reemployment  benefits  and  accepting the  dislocation  benefits                                                               
should not be a disqualifier for future benefits.                                                                               
8:57:25 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. LISANKI  referred to AS 041  (F) (2) and said  a person would                                                               
not  qualify  for reemployment  benefits  if,  after injured  the                                                               
first  time,  they  return  to   work  in  the  same  or  similar                                                               
occupation in  terms of  physical demands  required and  then get                                                               
were to get re-injured.                                                                                                         
9:00:35 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR  GUESS said  in some  ways the  reemployment decision  is                                                               
similar to state  employees cashing out their  PERS. However, the                                                               
state has  a buyback provision.  She asked whether  anything like                                                               
that  has   been  considered   with  the   worker's  compensation                                                               
MR. LISANKI replied no. It  would be difficult to administer. The                                                               
experts who  testified in support  of reemployment  benefits were                                                               
of the mind that they have to happen quickly to be effective.                                                                   
9:04:16 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR GUESS asked who the experts were.                                                                                       
MR. LISANKI  said Z.  Jackson did the  original study,  which was                                                               
completed and then invoked in 1982.                                                                                             
9:07:16 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  JIM   JORDAN,  executive  director,  Alaska   State  Medical                                                               
Association (ASMA),  testified additional  data is  needed before                                                               
the  Association can  offer  any  meaningful suggestions.  ASMA's                                                               
main  concern  is  to  provide appropriate  access  to  care  for                                                               
injured workers. The American  Medical Association (AMA) recently                                                               
released a  study that  had to  do with  Medicare saying,  if the                                                               
Medicare payment schedule is not fixed  by the end of 2005, there                                                               
will be  a 5 percent cut  in the Medicare payment  rate schedule.                                                               
The result  is that  38 percent of  physicians will  decrease new                                                               
Medicare patients they  accept. They will also  cease purchase of                                                               
new equipment.                                                                                                                  
9:09:58 AM                                                                                                                    
This would make  it difficult to comply with  the requirements of                                                               
Medicare. He  asked the committee  to consider Section  24, which                                                               
is  the preferred  drug list.  It only  relates to  a prescribing                                                               
physician. There are others who  have the ability to prescribe to                                                               
injured   workers   such    as   Physicians   Assistants,   Nurse                                                               
Practitioners, and Dentists.                                                                                                    
9:11:51 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. JORDAN continued  it is necessary to look overall  at how the                                                               
injured  workers are  coming out  of the  system and  to consider                                                               
whether they are better off.                                                                                                    
9:12:33 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS explained  he would  introduce  an amendment  that                                                               
defines attending physician.                                                                                                    
SENATOR  FRENCH asked  Mr.  Jordan to  expand  on ACOEM  practice                                                               
MR. JORDAN  said the California Medical  Association reported the                                                               
ACOEM guidelines  are not inclusive. They  recommended additional                                                               
guidelines  that  were  prepared by  various  national  specialty                                                               
9:15:35 AM                                                                                                                    
SENATOR FRENCH expressed concern  that the ACOEM guidelines don't                                                               
cover a  majority of  the care deemed  necessary to  provide. The                                                               
default would be to Section  24, subsection (p), which seems like                                                               
a cost driver.                                                                                                                  
9:16:39 AM                                                                                                                    
Senator Gene Therriault joined the committee.                                                                                   
9:18:00 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.   STEVE  CONSTANTINO,   hearing   officer,  Alaska   Worker's                                                               
Compensation Board, testified he  meets regularly with colleagues                                                               
to discuss SB 130. They have  prepared a number of amendments and                                                               
a  compromised bill,  which they  intend  to send  to the  Senate                                                               
Judiciary Standing Committee.                                                                                                   
9:20:41 AM                                                                                                                    
MR. CONSTANTINO  said a  great deal of  information is  needed to                                                               
make  reasonable  policy changes.  He  agreed  with the  proposed                                                               
Worker's Compensation Task Force.  The freeze on medical benefits                                                               
should be balanced by a freeze on insurance premiums.                                                                           
9:22:53 AM                                                                                                                    
Injured  workers  are often  without  benefits  and medical  care                                                               
because  of a  dispute with  the employer.  When a  settlement is                                                               
proposed, all parties  are aware a waiver of  medical benefits is                                                               
not  in the  best  interest of  the injured  worker.  To allow  a                                                               
waiver of  medical benefits to  avoid the Board's  scrutiny would                                                               
give a  green light  to insurers  to insist  on the  provision as                                                               
part of  any resolution of the  claim. Parties do not  have equal                                                               
bargaining  positions.  The  injured worker's  bills  and  family                                                               
responsibilities  continue. When  presented with  the possibility                                                               
of  another  year  of  litigation, the  injured  worker  will  be                                                               
enticed to waive medical benefits.                                                                                              
9:26:00 AM                                                                                                                    
There are significant  problems with Section 30,  which would cap                                                               
non-resident  compensation   rates  to  those  paid   to  Alaskan                                                               
residents.  Section 38  would relieve  the person  who instigated                                                               
the  fraud   allegation  from   liability  except   for  reckless                                                               
allegations, which  is concerning.  An allegation of  fraud could                                                               
deter injured workers from legitimate claims.                                                                                   
9:28:47 AM                                                                                                                    
Section 33  would eliminate the  second injury fund,  which would                                                               
shift  the  burden from  insurers  to  businesses. The  fund  was                                                               
designed  to  encourage businesses  to  hire  injured workers  by                                                               
allowing  those  businesses  to   be  reimbursed  for  disability                                                               
expenses. The fund encourages employers  to hire those they would                                                               
otherwise  shy away  from.  Section 33  alludes  all other  legal                                                               
protections are adequate.                                                                                                       
9:31:05 AM                                                                                                                    
Section 14 refers  to a mandatory 90-day  referral. A substantial                                                               
number of  injured workers  do not recover  until well  after the                                                               
90-day period.  There needs  to be a  safety valve  for employees                                                               
who can't go back to work  within 90 days. The employee must have                                                               
the right  to come  back before the  Board and  demonstrate there                                                               
were  changes that  could  not be  previously  determined by  the                                                               
attending physician.                                                                                                            
9:33:52 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  CONSTANTINO echoed  Ms. Linder's  concern regarding  the job                                                               
dislocation  benefit. It  does  not relate  to  how seriously  an                                                               
employee  is  functionally  disabled.   It  is  a  cost  shifting                                                               
mechanism,  which  would allow  insurers  to  waive an  important                                                               
benefit in order to save costs.                                                                                                 
9:36:09 AM                                                                                                                    
The Alaska  Worker's Compensation Board  does not support  Page 5                                                               
of  Mr.   LISANKI's  suggestions  titled,   "Maintaining  Medical                                                               
Benefits While Reducing Costs."                                                                                                 
9:38:00 AM                                                                                                                    
The preferred provider provisions  incorporated into the statutes                                                               
cause concern.  It would allow  insurance companies  to negotiate                                                               
with a select group of doctors  to provide care at certain costs.                                                               
He  asserted insurance  company  doctors are  wrong  most of  the                                                               
9:40:08 AM                                                                                                                    
MR.  CONSTANTINO  concluded  there  would be  great  pressure  on                                                               
injured workers to  use the preferred provider.  Employees have a                                                               
right  to  change doctors  one  time.  As  the law  is  currently                                                               
proposed, that one  time change will be exhausted  if the injured                                                               
worker chooses the preferred provider.                                                                                          
9:44:27 AM                                                                                                                    
CHAIR  SEEKINS  announced  the  intent  of  the  Senate  Standing                                                               
Judiciary  Committee to  be done  with  SB 130  by the  following                                                               
Chair Seekins announced a brief recess at 9:45:50 AM.                                                                         
Chair Seekins reconvened the meeting at 10:10:16 AM.                                                                          
CHAIR  SEEKINS  introduced  Amendment  1,  which  would  add  the                                                               
creation of a task force on worker's compensation.                                                                              
                          AMENDMENT 1                                                                                       
*Sec 54. The uncodified law of  the State of Alaska is amended by                                                               
adding a new section to read:                                                                                                   
     TASK FORCE ON WORKERS' COMPENSATION. (a) There is                                                                          
established in the legislative branch  the Task Force on Workers'                                                               
Compensation to  address the improvement  of the  Alaska worker's                                                               
compensation system, including                                                                                                  
          (1)    a review of workers'  compensation and insurance                                                               
                 reform measures throughout the United States and                                                               
                 an assessment of the effects of those reforms;                                                                 
          (2)    an  analysis  and assessment  of  proposals  for                                                               
                 workers' compensation liability insurance reform                                                               
                 in Alaska;                                                                                                     
          (3)    a   review    of   current    Alaskan   workers'                                                               
                 compensation   benefits   and   costs   and   an                                                               
                 assessment of needed changes;                                                                                  
          (4)    a  review  of  compliance  with  current  Alaska                                                               
                 workers' compensation laws;                                                                                    
          (5)    a consideration of other issues determined to be                                                               
                 relevant by members of the task force.                                                                         
     (b) The  task force  established under  (a) of  this section                                                               
     shall consist of nine voting  members. One member shall be a                                                               
     state senator appointed  by the president of  the senate and                                                               
     one  member  shall  be a  representative  appointed  by  the                                                               
     speaker  of  the  house of  representatives.  Eight  members                                                               
     shall be  appointed jointly by  the president of  the senate                                                               
    and speaker of the house of representatives, as follows:                                                                    
    (c) The task force established under (a) of this section                                                                    
          (1)  may  begin work  immediately upon  the appointment                                                               
               of its full voting membership and shall meet at                                                                  
               least three times telephonically or in person;                                                                   
          (2)  shall  hold   public  hearings  and   may  perform                                                               
               research related to its work;                                                                                    
          (3) may meet in the interim and vote telephonically;                                                                  
          (4)  shall report its written findings  and give a copy                                                               
               of proposed legislation and other recommendations                                                                
               to the legislature before December 1, 2005; and                                                                  
          (5) is terminated February 1, 2006.                                                                                   
10:13:00 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR THERRIAULT moved Amendment 1. Hearing no objections, the                                                                
motion carried.                                                                                                                 
SENATOR  GUESS  wanted the  record  to  show  the intent  of  the                                                               
committee  is that  a person  who has  been in  the system  would                                                               
represent the  unorganized labor  position, and that  the Speaker                                                               
and the Senate President would determine the Chair of the task                                                                  
CHAIR SEEKINS agreed.                                                                                                           
CHAIR SEEKINS introduced Amendment 2, which would provide the                                                                   
definition of "attending physician."                                                                                            
10:15:22 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR GUESS moved Amendment 2.                                                                                                
                          AMENDMENT 2                                                                                       
Page 26, following line 23:                                                                                                     
     Insert the following new material:                                                                                         
          "(35)"attending physician" means one of the following                                                                 
designated by the employee under AS 23.30.095(a) or (b):                                                                        
               (A) a licensed medical doctor;                                                                                   
               (B) a licensed doctor of osteopathy;                                                                             
               (C) a licensed dentist or dental surgeon;                                                                        
               (D) a licensed physician's assistant acting                                                                      
                    under supervision of a licensed medical                                                                     
                    doctor or doctor of osteopathy;                                                                             
               (E) a licensed advanced nurse practitioner                                                                       
                    acting under supervision of a licensed                                                                      
                    medical doctor or doctor of osteopathy; or,                                                                 
               (F) for a period of 30 days from the date of                                                                     
                    first visit following an injury or for 12                                                                   
                    visits, whichever first occurs, a licensed                                                                  
Page 26, line 24:                                                                                                               
     Delete "(35)"                                                                                                              
     Insert "(36)"                                                                                                              
Page 26, line 26:                                                                                                               
     Delete "(36)"                                                                                                              
     Insert "(37)"                                                                                                              
Page 26, line 28:                                                                                                               
     Delete "(37)"                                                                                                              
     Insert "(38)"                                                                                                              
Page 26, line 30:                                                                                                               
     Delete "(38)"                                                                                                              
     Insert "(39)"                                                                                                              
CHAIR SEEKINS objected for the purpose of discussion.                                                                           
10:17:16 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH moved  to strike the word  "advanced" in reference                                                               
to  Nurse   Practitioner.  Hearing  no  objections,   the  motion                                                               
10:18:31 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS   removed  his   objection.  Hearing   no  further                                                               
objections, Amendment 2 was unanimously adopted.                                                                                
10:19:54 AM                                                                                                                   
MR.  MICHAEL  JENSON,   attorney  representing  injured  workers,                                                               
testified   there  are   only   seven   attorneys  who   practice                                                               
exclusively  worker's  compensation   representing  workers.  The                                                               
reason there  are so few is  because it is very  complicated; the                                                               
benefits are  too low  and it  is difficult to  get paid.  SB 130                                                               
does  not address  the increase  in insurance  premiums. For  the                                                               
past two years  fees for attorneys representing  workers has gone                                                               
down  10 percent  and insurance  attorney fees  have gone  up but                                                               
nobody is asking where the regulators are.                                                                                      
10:22:14 AM                                                                                                                   
The  first major  problem with  SB 130  is the  cookbook approach                                                               
practice of the  treating doctors. He asked Section 24  be put on                                                               
hold until the task force can address it.                                                                                       
10:24:28 AM                                                                                                                   
MR JENSON suggested amending Section 16  and Section 19 so that a                                                               
waiver requires Board approval.                                                                                                 
10:29:34 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH announced he has  three amendments for the members                                                               
to consider the next hearing.                                                                                                   
10:30:30 AM                                                                                                                   
MR. WILLIAM FEHRENBACH, director  of State Government Affairs for                                                               
Medtronic,  advised they  have a  technical clarification  for SB                                                               
130. There  are many things  that ACOEM  does not address  and so                                                               
ACOEM cannot be  invoked to deny a procedure that  ADOEM does not                                                               
10:32:31 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR  GUESS  moved Amendment  3.  Hearing  no objections,  the                                                               
motion carried.                                                                                                                 
                          AMENDMENT 3                                                                                       
Page 15, Line 31, after "...medical treatment or services."                                                                     
Treatment may not be denied based on American College of                                                                        
Occupational and Environmental Medicine Practice Guidelines if                                                                  
the treatment for the indication in question is not specifically                                                                
addressed by the American College of Occupational and                                                                           
Environmental Medicine Practice Guidelines.                                                                                     
10:34:24 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR THERRIAULT moved Amendment 4.                                                                                           
                          AMENDMENT 4                                                                                       
Page 4, Delete Section 5                                                                                                        
Page 6, Delete Section 11                                                                                                       
Page 22, Delete Section 37                                                                                                      
Page 27, Delete Section 46                                                                                                      
Page 28, Delete Sections 50 and 54                                                                                              
Renumber all other sections accordingly.                                                                                        
SENATOR GUESS objected for the purpose of explanation.                                                                          
MR. LISANKI explained Amendment 4  refers to the elimination over                                                               
time of the second injury fund.                                                                                                 
SENATOR  GUESS   removed  her   objection.  Hearing   no  further                                                               
objections, Amendment 4 was adopted.                                                                                            
10:35:54 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS introduced Amendment 5.                                                                                           
SENATOR HUGGINS moved Amendment 5.                                                                                              
                          AMENDMENT 5                                                                                       
Page 26, following line 23:                                                                                                     
     Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                         
"*Sec. 42. AS 23.30.395(17) is amended to read:                                                                               
          (17) "injury" means accidental injury or death arising                                                                
out  of and  in the  course  of employment,  and an  occupational                                                               
disease  or   infection  which  arises   naturally  out   of  the                                                               
employment  of which  naturally  or unavoidably  results from  an                                                               
accidental  injury;  "injury"  includes  breakage  or  damage  to                                                               
eyeglasses,  hearing aids,  dentures, or  any prosthetic  devices                                                               
which  function as  part  of  the body  and  further includes  an                                                               
injury  caused by  the  wilful  act of  a  third person  directed                                                               
against an employee because of  the employment; "injury" does not                                                           
include  aggravation, acceleration  or  combination  with a  pre-                                                           
existing   condition  unless   the   employment   is  the   major                                                           
contributing cause  of disability or need  for medical treatment;                                                           
"injury" does not  include mental injury caused  by mental stress                                                               
unless  it   is  established  that   (A)  the  work   stress  was                                                               
extraordinary  and   unusual  in  comparison  to   pressures  and                                                               
tensions  experienced   by  individuals  in  a   comparable  work                                                               
environment, and  (B) the work  stress was the  predominant cause                                                               
of  the  mental  injury;  the  amount of  work  stress  shall  be                                                               
measured by actual  events; a mental injury is  not considered to                                                               
arise out of  and in the course of employment  if it results from                                                               
a  disciplinary action,  work evaluation,  job transfer,  layoff,                                                               
demotion, termination, or similar action,  taken in good faith by                                                               
the employer;"                                                                                                                  
Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                               
CHAIR SEEKINS objected for the purpose of explanation.                                                                          
MR. LISANKI  explained Amendment 5  amends the definition  of the                                                               
word "injury" as used in the Worker's Compensation Act.                                                                         
10:38:10 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH asked the reason for such a significant change.                                                                  
MR.  LISANKI said  the  impetus  is for  decreasing  the cost  of                                                               
insurance premiums.                                                                                                             
10:42:24 AM                                                                                                                   
CHAIR  SEEKINS tabled  Amendment  5 until  the  next hearing.  He                                                               
introduced Amendment 6.                                                                                                         
SENATOR HUGGINS moved Amendment 6.                                                                                              
                          AMENDMENT 6                                                                                       
Page 15, following line 3:                                                                                                      
     Insert a new bill section to read:                                                                                         
"*Sec. 23. AS 23.30.095(c) is amended to read:                                                                                  
          (c) A claim for medical or surgical treatment, or                                                                     
treatment requiring continuing and multiple treatments of a                                                                     
similar nature is not valid and enforceable against the employer                                                                
unless, within 14 days following treatment, the physician or                                                                    
healthcare provider giving the treatment of the employee                                                                        
receiving it furnishes to the employer and the board notice of                                                                  
the injury and treatment, preferably on a form prescribed by the                                                                
board. The board shall, however, excuse the failure to furnish                                                                  
notice within 14 days when it finds it to be in the interest of                                                                 
justice to do so, and it may, upon application by a party in                                                                    
interest, make an award for the reasonable value of the medical                                                                 
or surgical treatment so obtained by the employee.                                                                              
               (1) When a claim is made for a course of                                                                         
                    treatment requiring continuing and multiple                                                                 
                    treatments of a similar nature, in addition                                                                 
                    to the notice, the physician of health care                                                                 
                    provider shall furnish a written treatment                                                                  
                    plan if the course of treatment will require                                                                
                    more frequent outpatient visits than the                                                                    
                    standard treatment frequency for the nature                                                                 
                    and degree of the injury and the type of                                                                    
                    treatments. The treatment plan shall be                                                                     
                    furnished to the employee and employer                                                                      
                    within 14 days after treatment begins. The                                                                  
                    treatment plan must include objectives,                                                                     
                    modalities, frequency of treatments, and                                                                    
                    reasons for the frequency of treatments. If                                                                 
                    the treatment plan is not furnished as                                                                      
                    required under this subsection, neither the                                                                 
                    employer nor the employee may be required to                                                                
                    pay for treatments that exceed the frequency                                                                
                    standard. The board shall adopt regulations                                                                 
                    establishing standards for frequency of                                                                     
               (2) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this                                                                   
                    section, a claim for palliative care or                                                                 
                    treatment provided after the employee's                                                                 
                    condition is medically stable is not valid                                                              
                    and enforceable against the employer unless                                                             
                    the employee's attending physician certifies                                                            
                    that the palliative care of treatment is                                                                
                    required to enable the employee to continue                                                             
                    in the employee's employment at the time of                                                             
                    treatment or to enable the employee to                                                                  
                    continue to participate in an agreed or                                                                 
                    approved reemployment plan. Palliative care                                                             
                    or treatment is also subject to the                                                                     
                    requirements of subsection (1) of this                                                                  
                    section if the palliative care or treatment                                                             
                    involves continuing and multiple treatments                                                             
                    of a similar nature."                                                                                   
Renumber the following bill sections accordingly.                                                                               
SENATOR FRENCH objected for the purpose of explanation.                                                                         
MR. LISANKI explained it was based on the scope of medical                                                                      
benefits that can be paid and the expense associated. The                                                                       
amendment specifically addresses palliative care.                                                                               
10:46:47 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH moved to table Amendment 6 until the next                                                                        
hearing. Hearing no objections, the motion carried.                                                                             
10:49:32 AM                                                                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH introduced Amendment 7.                                                                                          
                      A M E N D M E N T 7                                                                                   
OFFERED IN THE SENATE                         BY SENATOR FRENCH                                                                 
     TO:  CSSB 130(L&C)                                                                                                         
Page 11, line 8, following "AS 23.30.130":                                                                                  
     Insert ";                                                                                                              
               (4)  the administrator may not accept an election                                                            
     to accept a job dislocation benefit by an employee who is                                                              
     not represented by an attorney"                                                                                        
CHAIR SEEKINS tabled Amendment 7 until the next bill hearing.                                                                   
SENATOR FRENCH introduced Amendment 8.                                                                                          
                      A M E N D M E N T 8                                                                                   
OFFERED IN THE SENATE                         BY SENATOR FRENCH                                                                 
     TO:  CSSB 130(L&C)                                                                                                         
Page 12, line 18, following "AS 23.30.130.":                                                                                    
     Insert "The division may not accept a wavier executed by an                                                            
employee who is not represented by an attorney before the                                                                   
board's review and approval of the employee's waiver."                                                                      
CHAIR SEEKINS tabled Amendment 8 until the next bill hearing.                                                                   
CHAIR SEEKINS introduced Amendment 9.                                                                                           
MR. LISANKI explained Amendment 9 contained a fix for unintended                                                                
redundant language.                                                                                                             
SENATOR THERRIAULT moved Amendment 9.                                                                                           
SENATOR FRENCH moved to table Amendment 9 until the next bill                                                                   
hearing. Hearing no objections, the motion carried.                                                                             
Chair Seekins recessed the Senate Standing Judiciary Committee                                                                  
meeting until 0800 Friday, April 8, 2005 at 10:53:13 AM.                                                                      

Document Name Date/Time Subjects