MADISON - Last month, the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced that the state Commissioner of Insurance had approved a recommended 3.19 percent decrease in the rates charged to Wisconsin employers for Worker's Compensation Coverage. The decrease is part of a long-term trend of stability, with rates averaging a mere 0.14 percent yearly increase over the past 10 years - a rate far lower than inflation.
WAJ President, Attorney Russ Golla (Stevens Point) praised this announcement and noted that it demonstrates that Wisconsin's Worker's Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) system is working and that the legislature should stick with it in the future.
Earlier this year, the Senate and the Assembly unanimously approved a council-generated Worker's Compensation bill, AB-724. Governor Walker swiftly signed this bill into law, 2015 Wis. Act 180. The Council bill produced reasoned changes and improvements to the Worker's Compensation Law-benefiting employees and employers. Despite this rare moment of unanimity, some in the legislature would put the stability of the system at risk by introducing legislation not vetted by the Advisory Council. More harmful still, out of state interests are seeking to overturn the century-old model by allowing employers to opt-out of Worker's Compensation all together(anti-worker plans already found unconstitutional in other states).
"Every Wisconsinite benefits from a strong, stable Worker's Compensation system," Golla said, "The decrease in employer rates announced in July demonstrate that the Advisory Council works."
"Stability didn't happen by accident," Golla observed, "today, and for the past 48 years, the Worker's Compensation Advisory Council has played a vital role assisting the legislature in shaping Wisconsin's Worker's Compensation system. Through the council, employers and their employees each have a voice in making Wisconsin's Worker's Compensation system stronger."
"The Advisory Council process has resulted in consistently low premiums, faster return to work times, lower costs per claim, and less litigation than in other states. Long-term stability has also attracted many worker's compensation insurers to Wisconsin, also resulting in lower costs and meaningful choice for employers," Golla continued.
"Any future changes to Wisconsin's nationally-admired Worker's Compensation system should come from the Advisory Council," Golla concluded.
About the WCAC: The WCAC was created in 1967 to advise the legislature on changes to the Worker's Compensation system. It includes representatives from both management and employees. As the DWD notes, "One of the important enduring values of the Council is maintaining the overall stability of the Worker's Compensation system without regard to partisan changes in the legislative or executive branches of government."
The mission of the Wisconsin Association for Justice is to promote a fair and effective justice system