Synopsis: IL State Budget Battle Starting to Secretly Squeeze the IL Workers’ Comp Commission—Can Efficiency in Government Follow?
Editor’s comment: We received gossip/random news indicating the IWCC no longer has the money needed to snail-mail decisions and the attorneys on both sides are being called and advised to come pick up Arbitration and Commission rulings. We are further being advised the IWCC staff will only let licensed attorneys pick up and sign for their rulings. There is also the possibility the IWCC will stop pick-ups of decisions and move to do this electronically with emails of all IWCC notices/rulings/orders to the parties. We can foresee a day where the initial Application is filed electronically and the “docket sheets” become electronic spreadsheets or real-time websites. How about emailing draft settlement contracts to the Arbitrators/Commissioners and having them email approved contracts back to both sides asap? From the perspective of the defense team at KCB&A, the sooner the whole place goes electronic, the better.
The source of this change is a rumor the WC Commission may be short on cash and literally can’t pay for postage. We find that interesting to report, as the IWCC is funded by a dedicated fund called the IL WC Workers’ Comp Commission Operations Fund or OPS. The statutory basis for this fund is 820 ILCS 305/4d; 215 ILCS 5/416. The Commission’s Operations Fund (OPS) was created by the secret-powers-that-be-who-run-the-Commission in 2003 to pay for most of the administrative costs of the Commission. In so doing, Illinois was the 46th state to create a source of funds outside State government general revenue for our workers’ compensation agency.
According to the 2014 IWCC Annual Report, OPS revenues come from two sources. The Department of Insurance (DOI) collects a 1.01% surcharge on workers’ compensation insurance premiums paid by Illinois business. In FY14, DOI transferred $26.2 million of these levies to the Commission. The IL WC Commission also assesses self-insured employers 0.0075% of your total Illinois payroll. In FY14, the Commission collected $2.5 million. If you are doing the math, that is $28.7M collected last year for use in running the IWCC and paying a payroll of about 156 employees. You may note there are no funds paid to run the IWCC that come from IL Labor.
So how does the IWCC run out of money for postage? Your guess is as good as ours—the only thing that might make any sense are IL State government fund “sweeps” where our leaders in Springfield secretly take or “borrow” money earmarked for something else and spend it on whatever they want. Sometimes they pay it back but most times who knows? Either way, we assume all aspects of Illinois state government are a financial mess with the continuing face-off between Governor Rauner and Speaker Madigan raging on and on.
We have written about IWCC efficiency in the past and may continue to write about it in the future. WC claims in this state continue to drop and drop. The IWCC’s 2014 Annual Report indicates there were 50,834 new filings in year 2010; last year there were only 43,732. If you do quick math, that is a 14% drop in five years. Everything in IL WC is trending towards less and less claims but we aren’t seeing a concomitant change in the Commission itself. If anything, we feel the IWCC continues to grow and grow.
On other efficiency issues,
· We still don’t know why the IWCC continues to fund satellite offices where the staffers do little other than print copies of IWCC forms that are continuously available online. We don’t know another reason, other than politics/patronage, to keep these offices open.
· Someday, someone as smart as Jay Shattuck, Todd Maisch or another IWCC guru will note most of the expensive and unique funds run by the IWCC are a total waste of Illinois business’ money. We urge these funds be fully re-evaluated and/or scrapped—there isn’t a single businessperson in this entire state that knows what most of the money is spent on and they certainly don’t view these multi-million dollar expenditures as favorable to them.
· For one example, the outdated and comical Illinois Second Injury Fund was implicitly “replaced” when ADA was passed 25 years ago but the significant levy on Illinois business remains. The 2014 Annual Report of the IWCC indicates only 78 Illinois citizens in a state of over 8M people are receiving any money from this arcane and almost secret fund. If you want other examples of dysfunctional IWCC funds, send a reply.
· Finally, the IWCC Chairman in 2003 convinced our General Assembly and Governor that to make WC rulings faster, we needed to add three more Commissioners. Starting in 2005, Illinois now has nine of them. We assure our readers the speed of resolution of claims didn’t change at all. Each Commissioner has two well-paid assistants that are lawyers. That makes 27 full-time lawyers on the administrative appeal level. If all 27 of these lawyers each decided a single contested claim each week, they would have nothing to do in about ninety days. If we had three Commissioners with 2 lawyer-assistants, our math indicates they would each have to decide less than ten contested claims a month—we don’t consider that an onerous level of work.
As we have said many times in the past, Illinois’ state government core process fault is spending billions of taxpayer dollars to promote political loyalty via politics and patronage. If that is the goal of the IWCC, then so be it. If the goal of the IWCC is efficient and effective resolution of the claims filed before it, let’s take a hard look at how to save money to include getting rid of thousands of old-fashioned envelopes and stamps and moving to email and real-time websites.
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Synopsis: Does Your Company/Government Body/School/Church Need an Active Shooter Protocol?
Editor’s comment: We were asked this question after the tragedy in Oregon and wanted to give you our best thoughts. We feel your best online source is the Department of Homeland Security website. Most of this information below is taken directly from that website, basically because it is brilliantly thought out. We are forwarding for your convenience. We are happy to consult or assist our readers in any way with regard to training and preparedness.
Active Shooter Preparedness
The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) aims to enhance preparedness through a ”whole community” approach by providing training, products, and resources to a broad range of stakeholders on issues such as active shooter awareness, incident response, and workplace violence. In many cases, there is no pattern or method to the selection of victims by an active shooter, and these situations are by their very nature are unpredictable and evolve quickly. DHS offers free courses, materials, and workshops to better prepare you to deal with an active shooter situation and to raise awareness of behaviors that represent pre-incident indicators and characteristics of active shooters.
Active Shooter Resources for Law Enforcement and Trainers
- The National Summit on Multiple Casualty Shootings was a joint effort of the FLETC, the Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, and the Johns Hopkins University. Subject matter experts from a wide range of disciplines, such as law enforcement, health care, law, social sciences, education, and academia came together in December 2012 to advance the national dialogue on preventing multiple casualty violence. The Report on the National Summit on Multiple Casualty Shootings contains eight recommendations, all centered on the need to create a strategic approach to information sharing in the prevention of multiple casualty violence. A follow-up summit occurred in April 2013 and a report on that event is forthcoming.
- Progress Report on the President’s Executive Actions to Help Reduce Gun Violence: The Obama Administration released a progress report detailing the completion of our significant progress on 21 of the 23 executive actions President Obama laid out in January to help reduce gun violence, including fact sheets and guides to help develop high-quality emergency operations plans for K-12 schools, institutions of higher education and houses of worship.
- The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) and Active Shooter Web Portal: The Department of Homeland Security (DHS), in partnership with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), has launched a Countering Violent Extremism and Active Shooter (CVE-AS) Web Portal on the Homeland Security Information Network (HSIN). The purpose is to provide videos and training resources, as well as a document library with information and resources, covering numerous CVE and AS topics. It provides a forum for the exchange of Unclassified FOUO, SBU, and LES information to sworn, full-time, law enforcement officers (federal, state, or local); federal employees affiliated with the criminal justice system or intelligence communities; military personnel; and government agencies associated with infrastructure protection of the United States. The CVE-AS Web Portal also shares Unclassified FOUO or SBU information with private sector partners, civilian security personnel, corporate executives, educational institutions/academia, international partners, community leaders, and other state and local partners, as appropriate. In addition, the portal includes information on outreach initiatives and subject matter experts; and forums to provide feedback, share products, and ask questions.
Active Shooter Training Provided by the Federal Law Enforcement Training Centers (FLETC)
· The Active Shooter Threat Training Program (ASTTP) is a 24-hour instructor-led training program designed to instill within students the knowledge, skills, abilities, and mindset necessary to successfully respond to an active threat event. This program utilizes dynamic interactive drills and scenario-based training to develop necessary proficiency. It covers tactical subject matters such as individual and team movements and operational formations, and focuses on the roles and responsibilities of responding officers. Upon successful completion of the program, each student receives a certificate of training.
· The Active Shooter Threat Instructor Training Program (ASTITP) is a 40-hour instructor-led training program designed to prepare students to serve as instructors or field training officers in the specialized area of active shooter threat response. In addition to covering tactical subject matters such as individual and team movements and operational formations, this program addresses the role of the instructor or field training officer by focusing on instructional methodologies, adult learning, scenario development, evaluation skills, and documentation requirements. Upon successful completion of the program, each student receives a certificate of training and is officially recognized as an Active Shooter Threat Training Instructor.
· The Law Enforcement First Responder Training Program (LEFRTP) is a 24-hour classroom-based training program designed to help build critical skills that law enforcement officers acting as first responders need to effectively respond to mass consequence events, including criminal acts, terrorist attacks, and other large-scale emergencies. The program provides training, guidelines, and resources to address issues such as using a system of command to achieve a coordinated and effective incident response. The practical application of sound response principles is a main theme of this training program. Upon successful completion, each student receives a certificate of training.
Active Shooter: What You Can Do
DHS has developed an independent study course entitled Active Shooter: What You Can Do. This course was developed to provide the public with guidance on how to prepare for and respond to active shooter crisis situations. Upon completion of Active Shooter: What You Can Do, employees and managers will be able to:
- Describe the actions to take when confronted with an active shooter and to assist responding law enforcement officials;
- Recognize potential workplace violence indicators;
- Describe actions to take to prevent and prepare for potential active shooter incidents; and
- Describe how to manage the consequences of an active shooter incident.
The online training is available through the Federal Emergency Management Agency Emergency Management Institute and additional training for law enforcement is available at Federal Emergency Management Agency Law Enforcement Active Shooter Emergency Response.
Active Shooter Webinar; Continuously Available Online
A 90-minute Webinar can help the private and public sector understand the importance of developing an emergency response plan and the need to train employees on how to respond if confronted with an active shooter. The presentation describes the three types of active shooters--workplace/school, criminal, and ideological--and how their planning cycles and behaviors differ. This webinar is free and continuously available on a 24/7/365 basis.
Active Shooter Workshop Series
Active Shooter workshops have already taken place in a number of U.S. cities and will continue to be held in a number of locations in the future. These scenario-based workshops feature facilitated discussions to engage private sector professionals and law enforcement representatives from Federal, State, and local agencies to learn how to prepare for, and respond to, an active shooter situation. Through the course of the exercise, participants evaluate current response concepts, plans, and capabilities for coordinated responses toactive shooter incidents.
If you are interested in future workshops, please contact ASworkshop@hq.dhs.gov.
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Synopsis: Governor Rauner Appoints Christina Hemenway as our newest IL WC Arbitrator.
Editor’s comment: While the news still hasn’t made the IWCC website, reliable sources indicate Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner appointed a Lincoln claims manager as an Arbitrator at the Workers' Compensation Commission. Christina Hemenway has been an attorney specializing in workers' comp for 20 years, the Governor's office said in a press release. She worked for Country Financial Insurance as a workers’ compensation claims manager where she managed major catastrophic claims and employer liability and coverage lawsuits.
In addition, she was a subject matter expert for the company.
Ms. Hemenway is a member of the Illinois Chamber of Commerce’s Workers’ Compensation Committee, the Property Casualty Insurers’ Workers’ Compensation and Medicare Committees, and is a member of the Illinois Advisory Committee for the Workers Compensation Research Institute. Ms. Hemenway is a graduate of Missouri State University and earned her law degree from the University of Missouri. She lives in Lincoln, IL. Chris Hemenway launched a private practice in Peoria after graduating from law school. She said she was hired by County Financial in 1995 as a litigation attorney with the task of creating a workers' compensation division.
We consider Ms. Hemenway one of the sharpest and most knowledgeable members of the IWCC staff. We are confident she will use her encyclopedic knowledge of the IL WC Act and Rules to insure injured workers are taken care of properly under the law.
Synopsis: A short note for IN WC Claims Handers From Kevin Boyle, our IN defense team leader.
Editor’s comment: Effective July 1, 2015, Indiana’s mileage reimbursement rates changed. The prior mileage rate from May 1, 2011 to June 30, 2015 was .44. It’s now .40 as of July 1, 2015.
If you have questions or concerns about handling an IN WC claim at any time, email Kevin for answers at email@example.com.