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  • The Workers’ Compensation Medical Advisory Committee established standards for when artificial disc replacements are appropriate for workers, to control the costs of these expensive procedures and improve outcomes for workers. The committee also screens the use of new and experimental medical procedures, to ensure workers receive quality and cost-effective care.

  • Hundreds of employers have obtained coverage in the voluntary market instead of the assigned risk pool through efforts among the department, NCCI, and insurers. Fewer employers in the assigned risk pool reduces the expense for the majority of employers in the voluntary market that subsidize the pool.

  • The department has moved to electronic reporting for medical cost reporting and proof of insurance

coverage, saving time and money for insurers.

What is happening with worker benefits?

Worker benefits have improved significantly in Oregon as costs have gone down. The following are examples of changes that have benefited workers:

  • Maximum benefits for permanent partial disability have increased about tenfold since the late 1980s, and they now go up automatically as statewide wages increase, due to statutory changes in the past three legislative sessions.

  • Injured workers who need interpreter services when visiting their medical provider have better access to help because of rules the department developed that make it clear how to pay and bill for interpreter services.

  • Workers who are permanently and totally disabled no longer lose their benefits even if they become able to work a few hours a week.

  • The rate at which workers’ claims are denied has held steady over the past five years.

  • Injured workers are receiving medical benefits more quickly. By using alternative dispute resolution, the Workers’ Compensation Division has reduced the average time it takes to resolve medical disputes 79 percent since 2005.

What is the workers’ compensation premium assessment?

The premium assessment pays for Department of Consumer and Business Services programs related to workplace safety and workers’ compensation, including:

  • Workplace health and safety inspections,

  • Employer and worker consultation and training,

  • Enforcement of workers’ compensation laws to ensure coverage and the timely and accurate payment

of benefits to injured workers,

  • Prompt resolution of workers’ compensation disputes and hearings, and

  • Ombudsman services for injured workers and small businesses.

Why is the department proposing to increase the assessment?

An increase in the premium assessment is necessary to preserve critical workers’ compensation programs that have driven Oregon’s savings and success. DCBS reduced the assessment four times since 2002, as the economy grew. However, because the assessment is based on payroll, revenue has declined significantly since the start of the recession. The department has taken a variety of actions to address the revenue decline, including reducing expenditures, implementing pay freezes and furloughs, and cutting staff department-wide.


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