August 2022 Update

  • MSIA CE Webinar – IMEs in the Montana System 9/8 10a MDT (Sponsorship Opportunities Available)
  • Economic Affairs Interim Committee Seeks Input on IC Bill Draft
  • Governor’s Conference – Sept 28 Missoula
  • MSIA Business Meeting
  • Proxies Needed if You Cannot Attend
  • Annual Survey Results
  • Bylaws, Budget & Board Election
  • MSIA Annual Meeting
  • Guest Speaker - Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn of the Mayo Clinic & Special Guests – CE Credits Will be Applied For.
  • Welcome New MSIA Member – Ritsema Law

MSIA CE Webinar – IMEs in the Montana System 9/8 10a MDT

The next MSIA CE Webinar is set for September 8, starting at 10a MDT. This webinar will feature Clarus IME (formerly Wellcare), a Missoula based IME provider and Dr. Laura Kirsch, Ph.D. and Board Certified Forensic Psychologist will go through the steps necessary to secure an IME with substance and the process they go through to make sure the physicians performing the IME understand the issues and address them. Dr. Kirsch has practiced in Montana since 2013.

One Montana CE credit for licensed claims examiners has been granted. Advance registration is required and an attendance will be provided via Zoom to the Department of Labor for the CE credit. 

MSIA CE Webinars are always free to members and members can have an unlimited number of seats. This webinar will be open to others interested in the Montana workers’ compensation system and our invitation list of non-members includes regulators, medical providers, claims examiners, insurers, labor and business interests. You won’t want to miss this opportunity to learn from experts in Montana IMEs.

Sponsorships are available for this and the MSIA CE Webinar series. If you or your company are interested in being an identified sponsor, please contact the MSIA office for details.

The webinar presenter is Dr. Laura Kirsch, Ph.D., with Clarus IME. Dr. Kirsch is also a member of the faculty at the Alexander Blewett III School of Law at the University of Montana and has practiced as a psychologist in Montana since 2013. Dr. Kirsch earned a B.S. degree from Cornell in Human Development and Family Studies, a Masters Degree in Criminal Justice from the George Washington University, a Masters and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology/Psychology, Policy and Law from the University of Arizona and did a Post-Doctoral Fellowship in Forensic Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Medical School. Dr. Kirsch is Board Certified in Forensic Psychology from the American Board of Professional Psychology and has a Certificate in College Teaching from the University of Arizona. Dr. Kirsch has also worked in Arizona, California and Massachusetts, before making Montana home.

Dr. Kirsch has been with Clarus IME since 2019 and will go through:

  • The Purpose of an IME
  • Setting up an IME with a Doctor
  • Relevant Records
  • The Report
  • Judicial Decisions and the Rules that Dictate How Decisions are Made

Reserve your seat early! To sign up for the Independent Medical Examinations in the Montana System, on September 8, 2022, starting at 10:00a (MDT), contact the MSIA office by text, telephone or email. If you are on this email list, your organization is entitled to an unlimited number of seats at any of the MSIA CE Webinars. When you sign up, we will send you a meeting placeholder invitation and as we get closer, the formal Zoom invitation. Attendance will be taken, via the Zoom application, to provide the CE credit.

Economic Affairs Interim Committee Seeks Input on IC Bill Draft

The Economic Affairs Interim Committee (EAIC) – the non-session year study committee for all things workers’ compensation - is seeking input from the public on a proposed bill draft to clean-up the statutory language from the last session effort to more properly identify when someone is truly an Independent Contractor or an employee.

This language, PD0018, provides that if someone presents an Independent Contractor Exemption Certificate (ICEC), or they have represented to the employer they have one, if there is a question about their role (IC or employee) the Department shall investigate and not use the absence of an ICEC as a dispositive statement that the person is an employee. The draft also provides penalties for those who mis-represent themselves as being independent.

This proposal is an effort to clean up the language from last session to enact those kinds of changes. MSIA was generally supportive of that bill and involved in the draft rule-making effort. It was during rule-making that we learned the changed statutory language in 2021 did not achieve the goal. MSIA will again be involved as this bill moves forward. Generally, when an interim committee, such as the EAIC, agrees to legislative language, it is almost a foregone conclusion that change will pass and become enacted.

The EAIC is meeting again by Zoom on August 16 to consider comments received by Monday, August 15. The Committee is expected to take action at their final meeting on September 13. Should you want to make comment to the EAIC, they must be received by August 15, 2022 for consideration at this meeting. Comments may be submitted online using the committee's webform. Please contact committee staff, Erin Sullivan, at or 406-444-3594 with questions.

Governor’s Conference in Missoula – September 28 – 30

This year’s Conference will be held at the Missoula Hilton Garden Inn. The MSIA Annual meeting is again part of the formal agenda, starting at 9a on Wednesday, September 28. The MSIA Business Meeting, starting at 8:30a is for members only.

Topics for this years’ conference include:

  • State of the Workers' Compensation System
  • How to Successfully Recruit the Next Generation in Workers' Compensation
  • Improving Workers' Compensation Outcomes with Evidence-Based Medicine
  • Thoracic Outlet Syndrome
  • Trends & Topics in Workers' Compensation
  • Physician Roundtable on Hot Topics in Workers' Compensation
  • Workers' Compensation Court Case Review (Judge David Sandler)
  • Examiner Panel Discussion on the Evolution of Claims Handling

Speakers include noted national, regional and local experts. MSIA members are well represented by Kevin Bartsch of MTSBGA and Jaimie Kern of Intermountain Claims who will share their experience and perspectives as part of the claims examiners panel. Mark Pew, the Rx Professor and Bob Wilson formerly of will help provide perspectives on the next generation of workers’ compensation. The Conference kicks off with a perspective on the National Commission work, 50 years later.

The 2022 MSIA Business & Annual Meeting

Sponsored by Browning, Kaleczyc, Berry & Hoven and Definiti Comp Solutions, is set to start at 8:30a on September 28 at the Missoula Hilton Garden Inn. As usual, our Business & Annual Meeting is in conjunction with the Governor’s Conference. The Business Meeting is for Associate and Employer members only.

Our Annual Meeting speaker is Dr. Greg Vanichkachorn, MD, MPH, FACOEM Occupational & Aerospace Medicine Physician, Mayo Clinic. Montana workers’ compensation system participants may remember Dr. Van from his time as an Occupational Physician practicing in the Kalispell area. Dr. Van is currently an occupational and aerospace medicine physician at the Mayo Clinic. He is the medical director for Mayo’s first program for COVID long haulers, the Covid Activity Rehabilitation Program.Prior to his work at Mayo, he practiced in northwest Montana for nearly a decade, helping injured workers recover their function and lives.

Montana CE credits for Dr. Van’s presentation have been applied for and as a service to the Montana system, the MSIA Annual Meeting is open to all. We also have surprise guests for the MSIA Annual Meeting who are creating something we have all agreed the industry needs. I have every expectation we all will want to know more about their efforts!

All members are invited to the Business Meeting, which precedes the Annual Meeting and your attendance – or proxy – is vital to our conducting the business of the Association. Both Associate and Employer members are needed to create a quorum. Please do not skip this meeting.

At the Business Meeting, we will go through:

  • Minutes of last years’ meeting,
  • The Annual Membership Survey results,
  • Bylaws changes approved by your Board of Directors during the year,
  • The current Association Financial Picture,
  • The Proposed Budget, and
  • Election of Two Board seats.

Both Mike Marsh, current Secretary/Treasurer for the Association and Dee Walcheck have agreed to run for re-election to their seats on the Board. Nominations from the floor, if any, are welcome.

A formal agenda and supporting information will be provided to members next month, prior to the meeting. If you cannot attend the MSIA Business Meeting on September 28, your proxy is important – we need to make sure we have a quorum to conduct our business. Please provide either the proxy statement below, or an email or text to our Executive Director, Peter Strauss prior to the meeting.

If you are not able to attend in person, please provide your proxy, for quorum purposes only, before the meeting.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


I, ____________________(your name), representing ________________ (MSIA Member) hereby provide my PROXY for quorum purposes only to the MSIA Board of Directors to conduct the Business Meeting scheduled for September 28, 2022. 

 - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

MSIA Annual Survey

What’s important to you as an MSIA member and a participant in the Montana workers’ compensation system? The Annual MSIA Survey about the current issues in the Montana system and What Keeps You Up at Night is coming soon. The survey is absolutely confidential and helps provide direction for your Association on public policy issues. The survey will be released during the week of August 15 and responses are due by September 21. Your thoughts and operational difficulties within the system help us understand more about how the system actually works, or doesn’t work, and how we might be able to address those issues.

Responses are held in the strictest confidence and will not be shared outside the Association. For that matter, responses when received are immediately stripped of identifying information and stored for compilation. Your individual responses will not be shared and they will be aggregated so we better understand what’s important to you, and why.

This year’s survey topics are:

  • Mental-Mental Injuries,
  • Termination of Temporary and Conversion to Permanent Benefits,
  • Benefit Change Delays,
  • Concurrent Employment Benefits,
  • Allowing PA’s to be Treating Physicians and Permitting Direct Access to WC Patients to Physical Therapists and
  • What Else is Bugging You or Keeping You Up at Night About Our System

Welcome New MSIA Member – Ritsema Law

Ritsema Law is a Denver based defense firm with additional offices in Arizona and an attorney in Columbia Falls. Ritsema Law has been providing clients with exceptional workers’ compensation defense for nearly 30 years. Our unparalleled success stems in part from a thorough understanding of the law, but also from our close collaboration with clients and each other.

Unlike many firms, Ritsema’s approach to workers’ compensation cases is far from formulaic. Our team meets regularly to exchange information, discuss cases, trade ideas, and talk about the latest news and developments in the field. We even host an annual conference to share our insights and thought leadership with clients and industry personnel. In doing so, we constantly draw from each other’s expertise and creativity to enhance our overall effectiveness and success. And it’s not just our attorneys who are part of these discussions. We also have two licensed nurses who provide evidence-based medical insight for your claims. From helping establish workers’ compensation program procedures to serving as a resource in more informal matters, our team does far more than just litigate—we advise, guide and counsel in all things related to workers’ compensation. For more information contact Danielle Vukonich at or call her at 406-471-4757.