August‌ ‌2020‌ ‌Update‌‌ 

  • MSIA Business and Annual Meetings - MSIA Issues Survey Coming Soon - Dues 
  • LMAC Update
  • More COVID Stuff????
  • Medical Price Index for Workers Compensation 

As always, if you have any questions or need additional information, please do not hesitate to contact me via cell or text at 406-431-7220 or by email at  Thanks – Peter

  • MSIA Business and Annual Meeting 

Your Montana Self Insurers’ Association is inviting you to two scheduled Zoom meetings.  MSIA has retained Peter Strauss of C F Parry Associates, Inc. as our Executive Director.  The Zoom account is in the name of Cindy Parry of C F Parry Associates, Inc.  So you will see Peter or MSIA referenced as Cindy Parry for our Zoom meetings.  

Since we cannot meet this year at the Governor’s Conference (register here:, MSIA will be hosting two Zoom meetings.    

The first meeting for members will be on Tuesday, 9/29/2020 starting at 8:30a (MDT).  This will be a business meeting to review our financials, discuss positions on public policy issues, review our bylaws and to elect officers.  

The second invitation you will get will be for our Annual Meeting which will immediately follow on Tuesday 9/29/2020 starting at 9:00a (MDT).  We will invite others to join us to re-introduce the MSIA and our leadership to the Montana workers’ compensation community and to hear from Alex Swedlow, President of the California Workers Compensation Institute (CWCI).  See the lead COVID story below for more information on CWCI.  Alex has more than 25 years of experience in health services research, public policy analysis, and data development and has published numerous research studies in the areas of managed medical and disability systems, evidence-based medicine, pharmaceutical utilization, access to care, return-to-work and key performance indicators of California workers ’ compensation reform.  In 2013 he was named President of the Institute after having served as Executive Vice-President of Research for 13 years.  Alex is well familiar with the MT system having authored the study which lead to the MT WC pharmacy formulary law.  

  • MSIA Issues Survey Coming Soon

MSIA will be putting together a public policy survey asking members what issues are important to you and what positions we might want to take on them.  The survey will accept members opinions only and will cover issues likely to be discussed during the next legislative session.  We will ask you what’s keeping you up at night about our workers’ compensation system.  Your leadership would also like to hear how we can better serve you.  What additional things can your MSIA be doing to help you, help your business or improve the system.  

As you already know, the Montana elections are receiving more than usual national attention.  Regardless of who wins, we will have a new Governor, a new Attorney General and new Insurance Commissioner.  Montana regularly sees legislative turn over between term limits, natural attrition and election results.  With COVID showing no signs of abating soon, the legislature has formally decided how they will conduct business.  Regardless, your MSIA will be there to represent your perspectives on workers’ compensation issues.  No matter who wins, with a new Governor and legislature, next year will be at the least, “interesting.”  

Law and rule changes can have a significant impact on our ability to do business, if not remain in business.  We need your advice on what positions to take and what is important to Montana business.   

Look for the MSIA Issues Survey coming to your email box soon and please let us know your thoughts on the issues.  Individual member responses will be kept in the strictest of confidence and results will be aggregated so there will be no individual member or member type identification.  We appreciate your membership, input and support as we go into the next legislative session. 

  • Dues 

Your membership dues keep the MSIA going and strong.  If you have not yet paid your 2020 dues from July, please do so at your earliest convenience, make your check payable to MSIA at the address below.  

  • LMAC Update

The Labor Management Advisory Council (LMAC) met again Tuesday, 8/12, to hear an update on COVID workers’ compensation cases, discuss the Subsequent Injury Fund (SIF) elimination proposal and the proposal to amend the statutory language regarding the mandatory benefit brochure delivery.  

Attached is the latest Montana COVID workers’ compensation information from the Department of Labor.  MSIA, thanks to your input, also provided anecdotal information regarding your experience to date with COVID exposures and claims.  I shared we had a total of about 150 exposure incidents resulting in 3 claims 0 all from the health care industry.  Two are indemnity claims, one of which required hospitalization, one, from a part time worker has resolved with a full recovery and one with no payment.  We also shared that most of the reported exposures have had the 2 week quarantine period paid for under COVID sick time required by federal law.  Most testing costs have been paid for under health insurance, although some members have paid for tests through workers compensation.     

There was no real movement on the SIF elimination proposal.  MSIA formally shared we did not no object to the elimination of the program.  Mike Marsh and Vicki Evans, both MSIA members, were asked to provide potential alternatives to the current SIF program, as they both voiced concern about abandoning a program with a funding source that could be used to help people stay at work or return to work.  MSIA will work with them to identify a potential program which may provide real incentives to workers and business to keep injured workers at work or return them to work.  All agree the current program is not meeting the need.  The MSIA position that the current program could be eliminated has not changed.  

The driver of changing the law regarding publication and distribution of the mandatory benefit brochure was a desire to expand the information of non-profit programs, like Kids’ Chance, which may be of benefit to injured workers and their families.  LMAC agreed to review the potential of allowing the Department to provide language to that effect, rather than changing both the content and distribution aspects of the law.  

  • More COVID Stuff????

Two items out of California – which has tended to be a workers compensation system bell-weather forecaster (what happens in CA, doesn’t to stay in CA but permeates through the other states’ systems).  The first is a CWCI COVID interactive claims tracker - (see the MSIA Annual Meeting story for more on the CWCI).  

The second is the insurance industry’s rating organization in CA – the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (California) has recently announced a new rate filing, increasing costs based in part on a new COVID surcharge.  There is an interesting mix of impacts, including a statistical anomaly for class code 8859 Computer Programming and Software Development, a relatively low credibility code.  The rate change proposal would increase rates up to 67% for that class, based solely on the COVID surcharge.  See the full Workers Compensation Executive story here -

The Sedgwick Institute has recently published what I think is an excellent report, “American workers’ compensation – a study in disparities and the expanded use of presumption”(  If you prefer, I have a copy and can provide it to you – just let me know you want it.

One of the issues we expect to be dealing with in the next legislative session in Montana is not just COVID presumptions, but additional presumptions for first responders, law enforcement and firefighters.  Actions taken, or not taken, in each of those situations have different consequences for employers, workers, taxes and our workers compensation system.   

This is part of a Sedgwick Institute series and I will follow-up with the next report.     

And in the last of the COVID topics, Joe Paduda of Health Strategy Associates and Mark Priven of Bickmore Actuarial are teaming up to provide a free webinar titled, “Pandemic, Premiums, and Profit: Is it the Sky That’s Falling…or the Floor?”  The webinar will be held Thursday, August 20 at 10:00a Pacific Time (11:00a MDT). 

There are clearly new workers’ compensation costs due to COVID-19 claims, but that does not mean insurers are suffering. Priven and Paduda will discuss the many effects of this unprecedented time on claims, premiums, and profits. The webinar will examine business closures, interest rate decreases and other economic factors related to the pandemic’s disruption to the US economy.

Registration is free and they are limiting the audience so an earlier sign-up is recommended if you are interested.  Registration is free, here: (please delete my contact information and insert your own). 

  • Medical Price Index for Workers Compensation 

The Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has recently released its’ 12th edition of the WCRI Medical Price Index [MPI] for Workers’ Compensation.  It is available here,, for free with a registration.    The MPI is based on data from 36 states representing 88% of the workers compensation benefits paid in the United States (Montana is not one of the 36 states). 

If you prefer, I have a copy and can send it to you.  Just let me know.

From the report Introduction, 

This is the 12th edition of the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) annual series that benchmarks the actual prices paid for medical professional series delivered to workers with injuries across states.  …this annual study creates an index for the actual prices paid for professional services based on a marketbasket of the most commonly used services for treating workers with injuries.  

…In this 12th edition, we focus on the interstate index comparisons for 2018 and 2019, and expand the growth rate analysis to a 12 year span from 2008 to 2019.  

SAVE THE DATE - - SEPTEMBER 29 at 8:30a Mountain time for the MSIA Business meeting.  The MSIA Annual Meeting will immediately follow.

Thanks again for your support.  If you have any questions, or need additional information about the MT workers’ compensation system or other systems, don’t hesitate to contact us. 

Please stay safe and stay well, 

Peter Strauss, Executive Director

Montana Self Insurers Association

520 Monroe Ave

Helena, MT 59601