Special Interest Giants Face Off on Worker’s Comp Law Changes

October 5, 2017

Fighting Over Dollars

Doctors and the state’s largest business group are at odds over proposed changes to the state worker’s compensation law.

The plan now before a state advisory committee would allow the state to set payment rates, or fee schedules, for medical procedures covered by worker’s comp. The rates would be based on average prices negotiated by group health plans with the state. Forty-four other states currently use fee schedules.

The worker’s compensation law covers workers who are injured on the job.

The changes are backed by Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), the state’s largest business group, which claims worker’s comp medical costs are sharply higher than worker’s comp costs in other states. WMC also claims that worker’s comp often pays more than group insurance for the same treatment.

The proposed changes are opposed by the Wisconsin Medical Society, which boasts about 13,000 member physicians. The Medical Society says the current system works well and that treatment claims can already be negotiated.

The changes to the worker’s comp law may be introduced after it is considered by the 20-member Worker’s Compensation Advisory Council, which is made up insurers, health professionals, legislators, unions, and business representatives.

The legislature is controlled by Republican lawmakers – several of whom have benefited from WMC’s outside electioneering activities. Since 2010, WMC has spent an estimated $18.6 million on mostly undisclosed, outside electioneering activities to support Republican and conservative legislative and statewide candidates.

In addition WMC’s political action committee (PAC) and conduit have funneled about $531,900 in direct campaign contributions to mostly Republican candidates since January 2010.

The Medical Society does not engage in reported outside electioneering spending, however, physicians are generous campaign contributors to both parties.

Since January 2010, doctors have contributed about $3.8 million in individual and PAC contributions to both Democratic and Republican legislative and statewide candidates.