Agenda

THEME: BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS TO IMPROVE INJURED WORKERS’ OUTCOMES

 

Whether it is the political realm, the boardroom, or the workplace, when people fail to work together, it is difficult to innovate and address complex challenges. The workers’ compensation environment is no different. At this year’s conference, we are featuring some of WCRI’s latest research, as well as engaging sessions on the latest trends and examples of industry stakeholders coming together to tackle some of the system’s most important challenges, such as opioid misuse, return to work, and providing the worker the highest standard of care. As we finalize the agenda, take a look at some of the exciting sessions we have planned below.

KEYNOTE: PROF. ALAN KRUEGER

Considered one of the 50 highest-ranked economists in the world, Princeton University's Professor Alan Krueger will kick off this year’s conference with a keynote focused on the future of work and the impact of technology on the economy, and how the opioid epidemic has affected the labor force participation rate ─ the proportion of people employed or looking for work in the U.S.

 

Krueger will also share his experience working in Washington as the former chair of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (CEA) and as a member of President Obama's Cabinet from 2011 to 2013. He is the only economist to have served as the chief economist of both the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Department of Labor.

UNIONS AND MANAGEMENT: CREATING A SUCCESSFUL RETURN-TO-WORK PROGRAM

In keeping with our conference theme, Dr. Cameron Mustard, president and chief scientist at the Institute for Work & Health (IWH), will present his research on the challenges and successes in implementing a comprehensive and collaborative return-to-work program for a large acute-care hospital system employing 4,000 people.

 

The hospital became concerned about the high costs of workplace injuries and illnesses. Explicit policies and procedures had not been developed for supporting those on sickness absence to return to work. Accordingly, the number and duration of its workers’ compensation claims were double those of its health-care sector peers. To turn this around, the hospital and its three unions worked together to develop and implement an innovative, evidence-based return-to-work program.

 

The findings Dr. Mustard shares may provide helpful guidance for organizations embarking on the development and implementation of a return-to-work program.

GROUP HEALTH DEDUCTIBLES AND WORKERS' COMPENSATION

Previous research offers evidence that a sizable proportion of workers with work-related injuries do not file for workers’ compensation, suggesting that filing for workers' compensation may involve some costs to the worker, whether actual or perceived.   

 

Workers with access to health insurance with low deductibles may be unwilling to bear the workers’ compensation filing costs. There has been substantial growth in high deductible group health plans that raise injured workers’ out-of-pocket medical costs. With high deductibles, workers injured at work may find filing for workers’ compensation coverage more attractive, since medical care under workers’ compensation has no cost-sharing component.

 

In this session, WCRI's Dr. Olesya Fomenko will present the Institute's research on the relationship between deductibles in group health and filing in workers’ compensation.

TELEMEDICINE

Telemedicine is a significant and rapidly growing component of health care in the United States that has been used to overcome distance barriers and to improve access to medical services that would often not be consistently available in distant rural communities.

 

A seasoned panel of policymakers, practitioners, employers, and worker advocates will discuss the challenges and opportunities of this technology.

 

CORRELATES OF OPIOID PRESCRIBING AND OVERDOSE DEATHS BY INDUSTRY AND OCCUPATION

During this session, WCRI will present the Institute's latest research on correlates of opioid prescribing to injured workers, while the Massachusetts Department of Public Health will discuss the results from a recent study they published on factors that may contribute to differences in the rate of opioid-related overdose death among workers in different industries and occupations.

 

Findings from these reports may be used to target interventions within industries and occupations that are impacted most by the opioid epidemic and to help identify strategies to address workplace and socioeconomic factors that may be contributing to the epidemic.

FROM WASHINGTON STATE TO WASHINGTON, D.C. – A MODEL FOR COORDINATED SERVICES

Washington State has shown that creating a community-based program that brings together medical providers, employers, and injured workers helps ensure timely, effective, and coordinated services for injured workers. Now efforts are underway by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) to pilot this program in eight other states.

 

A distinguished panel will talk about the origins of this program, what makes it successful, and the potential lessons that can be learned by stakeholders.

STATE OF THE STATES: SELECTIVE FINDINGS

This session will discuss some of the latest findings and trends seen across WCRI’s core benchmark studies, including WCRI’s 18-State CompScope™ Benchmarks reports, a multistate benchmarking program that measures the performance of a growing number of state workers’ compensation systems.

 

This session will be helpful to stakeholders and public officials who are looking to better manage change and control costs while improving outcomes of injured workers.

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ABOUT OUR CONFERENCE

 

WCRI's conference is a leading workers' compensation forum for a diverse group of stakeholders. The two-day program highlights presentations of WCRI's latest research findings while drawing upon the diverse perspectives of highly respected workers' compensation experts and policymakers from across the country. Conference participants will leave with new insights, valuable networking contacts, and a better understanding of key issues in today's competitive environment.