Honestly, this post will not resemble a “tome” in any way, shape or form. A tome is defined as a “a book, especially a large, heavy, scholarly one.” This is not a book. It is not going to be large. And Lord knows the word scholarly will never be associated with my work. But it is about Kentucky workers’ comp, and the word tome rhymed with home. I simply required a scintillating title to trick you into reading today’s missive.

And here you are. You’re welcome. Besides, you’ve come this far, you might as well stick around and see how it turns out.

A FlashForm update sent to our customers this morning caught my eye (FlashForm is a forms auto-completion system allowing our customers to auto-populate almost 1,100 jurisdictional forms from within their claims systems). The update advised our product users that the state of Kentucky had done the unthinkable. Well, the update didn’t say they had done the unthinkable; it was rather my professionally trained eye that spotted the action and immediately recognized it as “unthinkable”.

And what was that action, you ask? Well, in the face of ever increasing regulatory complexity and burdensome oversite, the State of Kentucky bucked the trends and actually ELIMINATED forms.

Specifically, the state seems to have quietly combined several forms related to medical reporting, settlements and claim denial/acceptance. They created a number of new forms to accomplish this, but in the process they eliminated numerous others. In all, it appears the State of Kentucky has reduced their total form count by more than a half dozen forms.

Crazy, I know. But we have to report it the way we see it.

One of the big topics of the National Conversations, both through the Workers’ Compensation Summit and those held via the IAIABC has been “regulatory complexity”. The burden faced by companies trying to navigate the labyrinth of workers’ compensation regulations across 50+ jurisdictions is proving to be a major sticking point in developing more effective processes and solutions to better serve employers and their injured workers. This is compounded by many issues, not the least of which is the legislative environments that create the specific comp systems in each state. The regulators challenges include taking what is given to them and making it work, while meeting the demands and interests of the stakeholders within their jurisdiction. All of this is concluded within a state’s borders, and traditionally without much regard as to what processes exist in the other states of the nation.

I am not saying there hasn’t been interest in other states results, but there has been virtually no coordination regarding process, and that makes for a difficult environment in which businesses must operate.

I sense that is starting to shift slightly, as the conversations that have been ongoing are raising awareness among regulators that this is an issue of tremendous concern and interest. It was a big part of the recent “National Conversation” session held at the IAIABC Annual Conference. There was a lot of interaction over the concept of basic core standards for comp, as well as a system of monitoring adherence to those standards. It was going quite well, until of course they stalled over the definition of the word “monitor”; thereby highlighting the difficulty we face in establishing our own core standards. Let’s just say I am glad that as a species we have evolved beyond flinging feces at our adversaries.

Conference clean up would be a real stinker if we hadn’t.

At the Orlando gathering of the Workers’ Compensation Summit, when discussing the broader issue of system stability, I posed the question, “What jurisdiction seems to work?” The answer from several employers and professionals in the room indicated Kentucky had some adjudication processes worth looking at. Today, with their action of reducing the number of required forms and (ostensibly) simplifying the reporting process, they seem to have earned another round of positive recognition.

Which brings me to my final point. My company manages a voluminous compliance library called WorkCompResearch.com (Shameless plug – buy it today – help us keep the lights on – makes great stocking stuffers, operators are standing by!). Its 3,500 form library provides the core content for FlashForm and other related products. Carriers, TPA’s and self-insured employers pay us to help them manage and understand all of the regulatory and legislative intricacies they face across the nation in regards to workers’ compensation. Therefore, on behalf of my investors, I must state that simplification is not all it is cracked up to be.

Now that I think about it, de-cluttering the regulatory morass of comp is a bad thing. Someone call [Kentucky Commissioner] Dwight Lovan and find out what the hell he was thinking. Bring those forms back! Simplification and standardization will only confuse people who have become accustomed to excessive process, and no good can come from that. For God’s sake, don’t tell anyone about this. The machine must survive over all costs.

Then again, we can always sell shoes.

Simple simplification. Simply terrifying, yet simply must be done.

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