June 2021 Update

  • New Benefit Levels Effective 7/1 Released by MT DOLI
  • MSIA Business & Annual Meeting Set for 9/29
  • Governor’s Conference 9/29 – 10/1 Registration & Rooms Available
  • Bowman v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity – Claim File Access and Adjusting
  • Free WCRI Drug Trends Webinar – 6/24
  • New Benefit Levels Effective 7/1 Released by MT DOLI

The new Benefit rates, based on the SAWW and the US 10 Year Treasury Bills have been released by the MT Department of Labor and Industry (DOLI) to be effective July 1, 2021 through June 30, 2022. The new SAWW is $917 which reflects an 8% increase over the prior year. While wage inflation is certainly present, an 8% increase in 12 months seems a bit higher than normal. Bob Hartwig, Economics Professor at the University of South Carolina last month discussed this possibility based on the pandemic’s impact on lower wage jobs and the need for those who continued to work, to work longer hours (see slide 37 of the attached presentation). The result, according to Hartwig, may be record numbers in wage growth as the basis for workers’ compensation benefits. 

More details regarding the new Montana benefit levels are here:

MSIA Business & Annual Meeting Set for 9/29

MSIA will hold our next Business and Annual Meeting in conjunction with the Governor’s Conference on September 29. The Business meeting for members only will start off at 8:30a at the Holiday Inn in West Yellowstone where we will review potential changes to the Bylaws, adopt a budget and again elect a Board of Directors. If you are interested in serving, please contact our Executive Director, Peter Strauss. 

The Annual Meeting will start promptly at 9:00a where we will hear from noted national workers’ compensation commentator and blogger Bob Willson, President and CEO of Members and guests are welcome to join us as Bob always has an interesting take on what is going on nationally and with workers’ compensation. Wilson has been a featured presenter in the past at the Governor’s Conference as well as many other national meetings. Our meeting will end by 10:00a. Mark your calendar for the MSIA Business and Annual Meetings and the Governor’s Conference. 

Governor’s Conference 9/29 – 10/1 Registration & Rooms Available

“Workers’ Compensation in a Post-Pandemic World”

The Governor’s Conference on Workers’ Compensation will be held in West Yellowstone September 29 – October 1. This year’s Conference, “Workers’ Compensation in a Post Pandemic World,” will feature some great speakers and new information on our system and culture in workers’ compensation. MSIA is proud to offer Bob Wilson, President and CEO of to the list of speakers for Conference attendees. 

Registration has been opened, and the room block at the Holiday Inn has been released. Register for the Conference here: 2021 Governor's Conference web page and rooms can be secured by calling the Holiday Inn at 406-646-7365. 

This year’s Conference, in addition to the Legislative Update presented by MSF General Counsel Kevin Braun and the Workers’ Compensation Court Case Review by WCC Judge David Sandler will feature:

  • Dr. Clare Musselman, VP of the Workers’ Compensation Center of Excellence at North American Risk Services, Inc. talking about Flipping the Script – her take on injecting humanity in workers’ compensation claims management (can there be such a thing?);
  • District Court Judge Rod Souza talking about the use of Social Media as Evidence in WC;
  • Dr. Greg Vanichkachron, Occupational and Aerospace Medicine Physician at the Mayo Clinic and medical director for Mayo’s first program for COVID long-haulers, talking about Post COVID Syndrome: The Next Challenge in Occupational Medicine and WC;
  • Dr. Neil Dempster, Behavioral Engineer and RESULTant will talk about how to achieve success in a changing world, and C3, Connect, Communicate, Collaborate; and
  • Jennifer Wolf, Executive Director of the IAIABC. The IAIABC is the international organization of state and national workers’ compensation regulators. Their membership includes all 50 states, DC, Canadian provinces, US territories and other countries.  

They will be joined by

  • Dr. Maggie Cook-Shimanek, Medical Director for the Montana Department of Labor, talking about how the pandemic changed our perspectives on safety, health and wellness,
  • Emily Healy, Epidemiologist for the Employment Relations Division of DOLI will be joined by Bri Lake, Research Analyst for the Employment Relations Division both sharing the research they have been doing and some of their results;
  • Todd Harwell, Administrator for the Public Health & Safety Division within the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services will be talking about the Spanish Influenza Project; and
  • Ryan Eder, Founder and CEO of IncludeHealth, Inc. likely talking about his company’s efforts in “Powering the Next Evolution in MSK Care”

Register for the Conference here: 2021 Governor's Conference web page  Rooms can be secured by calling the Holiday Inn at 406-646-7365. 

Finally – as part of the Conference the Annual Governor’s Safety Awards are presented. In the past, MSIA members such as Marv Jordan and MSIA Treasurer Mike Marsh and MSIA Executive Director Bob Worthington have been recognized as leaders in the workers’ compensation world. Nominations this year have been extended to July 2. If you know of someone or an organization worthy of consideration, please use this form to make your nominations - -

Bowman v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity – Claim File Access and Adjusting

Judge Sandler has recently ruled in Bowman v. Hartford Accident & Indemnity Co. (2021 WCC 9) requiring Hartford to provide the claim file information of Bowman’s employer and the TPA retained to manage the claim in Montana. The case is a bit complicated, but may have particular interest for MSIA members. The relationship between an employer, an injured worker during their treatment and the insurer or TPA, as you all know, a bit more complicated in Montana than in some other states. 

I have attached a copy of the decision, published May 27. MSIA members may want to review the decision and perhaps consult with counsel regarding current practices with respect to the management, supervision and payment of Montana workers’ compensation claims.

Free WCRI Drug Trends Webinar

The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) is hosting a fee webinar on their latest Flash Report, Interstate Variations and Trends in Workers’ Compensation Drug Payments 2017Q1 to 2020 Q1. The webinar is scheduled for Thursday, June 24 starting at noon Mountain time and will discuss the changes in workers’ compensation prescribing dollars and the distribution of prescriptions within the systems. The study covers 28 state systems including CA, NY, FL, TX, MI, MN, WI and others. Typically these states generate more than half the WC claims in the country. Although Montana is not included, I have found our system results, other than for known differences in our system, are not too far off from the results WCRI identifies. Regardless, with drugs being more and more important in the workers’ compensation systems, this is interesting information. 

The webinar has one of my favorite four letter words attached to it – FREE. Registration is required. Register here: Registration ( for the webinar on Drug Trends and Costs on June 24 at noon Mountain time. 

Know of anything MSIA members might be interested in? Pass it on!