Legislature(1995 - 1996)

03/22/1995 03:25 PM L&C

Audio Topic
* first hearing in first committee of referral
+ teleconferenced
= bill was previously heard/scheduled
txt
 HB 60 - IMPAIRMENT RATING GUIDES FOR WORKERS CO                              
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT stated the next order of business was HB 60.                   
                                                                               
 Number 418                                                                    
                                                                               
 ELIZABETH ROBERTS, HOUSE RESEARCHER TO REPRESENTATIVE BETTYE                  
 DAVIS, ALASKA STATE LEGISLATURE, PRIME SPONSOR OF HB 60, stated               
 this was a very friendly bill.  She said the Department of Labor,             
 the Division of Worker's Compensation and the American Medical                
 Association (AMA) all support the bill.  She said HB 60 deals                 
 with an existing statute that says the Division of Worker's                   
 Compensation has to use a 1986 AMA impairment guide.  Since 1986,             
 they have had two revised editions and a 200-page supplement.                 
 Since then, they have come up with many more diseases.  She                   
 explained if a disease or injury is not included in the book,                 
 then it has not been rated, in which case the injured worker                  
 would not qualify for any compensation.  She said the AMA                     
 recognizes the shortcomings of the new book, the 4th edition, and             
 they recommend the supplement, "Understanding the AMA Guides," be             
 used in conjunction with it.  She explained the bill mandates the             
 use of the newest revised edition and supplemental material.  She             
 added it carries a zero fiscal note.                                          
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT observed the Prime Sponsor of the bill,                         
 Representative Bettye Davis, had joined the meeting.                          
                                                                               
 Number 498                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE BETTYE DAVIS stated this legislation could garnish             
 bipartisan support.  She said it was important for people  to use             
 this guide, to have the most up-to-date information.  She said it             
 is supported by the AMA, as well as the Department of Labor.  She             
 thanked the committee and hoped they would move it in a timely                
 manner.                                                                       
                                                                               
 Number 506                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE NORMAN ROKEBERG asked what the industry's opinion              
 of the bill was.                                                              
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE DAVIS responded that they support it.                          
                                                                               
 Number 516                                                                    
                                                                               
 PAUL GROSSI, DIRECTOR, DIVISION OF WORKER'S COMPENSATION, stated              
 the department supports the bill.  He said the  1980 amendments               
 require that AMA guides be used in rating physical and mental                 
 problems.  He explained the problem is that every time there is a             
 change in the guides there must be regulatory changes.  To keep               
 current they must go through the regulatory hearing process.                  
 This bill simplifies that process and makes it automatic.  He                 
 noted this had been tried previously, a few years back, by                    
 regulation, but the division was told by the Department of Law                
 that a statutory change would be required.  He reiterated the                 
 department supports the bill because it streamlines the                       
 regulatory process.                                                           
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT commented it would seem that the department would               
 use the most current information available.                                   
                                                                               
 MR. GROSSI pointed out the department was told by the Department              
 of Law this was too vague and regulatory change was required.  He             
 said they were currently using the 3rd edition;  however, the 4th             
 edition is out, and they would probably hold regulatory hearings              
 this summer to become current.  He added, by the time the                     
 regulation gets signed in, there may be another change in the                 
 guide and they would be behind again.  This is the problem                    
 they're facing.                                                               
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if the department had a copy of the 4th                   
 edition in their possession.                                                  
                                                                               
 Number 531                                                                    
                                                                               
 MR. GROSSI responded that they had it in their possession, but                
 could not use it.                                                             
                                                                               
 Number 544                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE KUBINA commented this would be a cheaper way to do             
 it and there would most likely be a zero fiscal note because the              
 regulatory hearings would not be mandated.                                    
                                                                               
 MR. GROSSI agreed, but said they usually would combine it with                
 other regulatory hearings.  And, in fact, if there happened to be             
 no other reason to hold a regulatory hearing, it could be they                
 would have to pay the transportation costs for the board members              
 just to change the regulations.                                               
                                                                               
 Number 551                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER asked if anyone else would be testifying on             
 HB 60.                                                                        
                                                                               
 Number 564                                                                    
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT answered that no one else had signed up to testify.             
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER commented that he had seen these types of               
 discussions that everyone agreed on go too far.  He would                     
 entertain a motion.                                                           
                                                                               
 Number 569                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG asked what the insurance industry's                   
 position on the bill was.                                                     
                                                                               
 MR. GROSSI said he assumed they would support it, as it was the               
 most current and accurate scientific body of knowledge for rating             
 injured workers.                                                              
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT closed public testimony on HB 60.                               
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE ROKEBERG noted that he had spoken to                           
 representatives from the Alaska National Insurance Company and                
 they said it was okay with them.                                              
                                                                               
 Number 574                                                                    
                                                                               
 REPRESENTATIVE PORTER made the motion to move HB 60 from                      
 committee with individual recommendations and a zero fiscal note.             
                                                                               
 CHAIRMAN KOTT asked if there were objections.  Hearing none, the              
 motion passed.                                                                
                                                                               

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