It’s Tuesday afternoon, and as I sit in the Tampa airport waiting for my flight to Bozeman, Montana, I finally have a few minutes to briefly recap the results of our Orlando Workers’ Compensation Summit meeting held last Sunday in conjunction with the Workers’ Compensation Institute Annual Conference. As many of you know, this meeting was a follow up event connected to the Dallas “National Conversation” on workers’ comp that we started last May.

This time we had 35 representatives from, as before, a broad spectrum of workers’ compensation sectors. The focus of this meeting was to concentrate on the 3 primary issues we identified in Dallas; Benefits Adequacy, Regulatory Complexity and Delay in Treatment for Compensable Claims. We only had 4 hours, so we knew it would be challenging to reach any substantive actions during this round.

Still, there was very positive movement, and I think most participants felt it was time well spent.

One of the most rewarding things for me were the statements made by some parties about how much they learned about entities “across the aisle” from their normal position. One plaintiff’s attorney told the group that prior to the meeting he had no idea about the regulatory and reporting burdens that carriers and employers must endure. We also had statements from Union reps and claims people that they learned things in the discussion about the challenges of other players, and that the dialogue was a positive tool for them. 

Several good ideas were shared with the group, as we discussed what did and did not work in various states. Some of the participants are directly tied to potential post-Castellanos reform efforts here in Florida, and some of the ideas may find their way into those efforts. The focus of contributors, however, is to keep the conversations steered towards a national dialogue.

It was decided that this group should continue meeting, and that we should look at the effort as a kind of ongoing “think tank”. The collective feeling was that the “Summit” will likely never be in a position to issue broad, sweeping legislative changes, but certainly can continue identifying weaknesses and researching solutions to eventually standardize some level of effort to attain more consistent results across the spectrum.

There is much more to convey, but time this week is very tight. I’ll report more on this meeting and ideas next week. Until then, it’s off to more conference frivolity. I spoke at a few sessions at WCI, and tomorrow will be debating comp with Joe Paduda at the Montana Governors Conference on Workers’ Compensation. I sit here at TIA nervously listening to the rain pounding down, ever cognizant that two of my last three attempts at an “evening departure” out of this city have been scrubbed due to thunderstorms and delayed flights. It is imperative I get there tonight. 

It just wouldn’t be fair to leave those poor people to Joe and his solo machinations. I’ll feel better when I’m in the air and on my way. And I’m sure the people of Montana will feel better as well.

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