May 2022 Update 

  • MSIA Webinar - Montana System Results Driving the 7/1/22 Loss Cost Changes and Select Plan 1 Results – June 8
  • NCSI Annual Conference June 12 – 15
  • Gov’s Conference 9/28 – 9/30 in Missoula – Book Your Rooms NOW!
  • MSF Annual Medical Conference
  • WCRI Comparison of State Laws
  • MSIA Webinar June 8 – Montana System Results Driving the 7/1/22 Loss Cost Changes and Select Plan 1 Results

The next MSIA Webinar, Montana System Results Driving the 7/1/11 Loss Cost Changes and Select Plan 1 Results is set for June 8 at 10:00a MDT. One hour of MT Claims Examiner CE credits is available for this webinar.

Join us in welcoming Todd Johnson, NCCI Senior State Relations Executive and I as we discuss the NCCI State Advisory Forum information and selected Plan 1 results compiled by the Employment Relations Division of the Department of Labor. This will be an interview type conversation reviewing the NCCI and ERD information, with powerpoint slides to demonstrate our points. We will plan time for questions.

As a senior state relations executive, Todd Johnson is responsible for NCCI’s regulatory and legislative affairs, including rate filings, legislative pricings, rules and form filings, and residual market issues. He supports the Pacific Northwest states of Montana, Idaho, Oregon, and Alaska where NCCI is the designated workers compensation rating organization. Prior to joining NCCI in 2017, Johnson served as the Director of Workers Compensation for a national TPA specializing in public entities. He was also the Managing Director for all residual market servicing carrier operations with a national WC carrier. Additionally, he led the claim operation for a workers compensation reinsurance company providing oversight of all licensed carriers, public entities and self-insured companies.

MSIA is hosting this webinar for all Montana system stakeholders so they can get the benefit of NCCI’s perspective on how our system is performing. Earlier this year, NCCI filed for an overall average -1.9% change in loss costs used by insurers in the state, to be effective July 1, 2022. This webinar is not limited to MSIA members and is again provided free of charge to all attendees.

We will cover:

  • MT Benefit Cost Distribution
  • MT Claim Frequency with comparisons to regional states and NCCI country-wide
  • MT Claim Severity with comparisons to regional states and NCCI country-wide
  • Plan 1 Distribution of Reported Injuries and a comparison to insured plans
  • Reported Injuries by Nature of Injury – Plan 1 and insured plans
  • Reported Injuries by Part of Body – Plan 1 and insured plans
  • TTD Paid Durations, Plan 1 and insured plans

To register for the June 8 Webinar please contact us at or 406-431-7220. You will get an invitation to a calendar placeholder and a about week ahead, will receive the Zoom credentials for the webinar. One hour of MT Claims Examiner CE credits is available for this webinar.

NCSI Annual Conference June 12 – 15

The National Council of Self-Insurers Annual Conference is BACK! We all got tied up with the pandemic and have all learned how to Zoom, Microsoft Team and WebX. It is now time to see each other in person, wearing real clothing, instead of just a nice top and our PJ bottoms, sweatpants or bicycle shorts. There is nothing like making that personal connection – and we have all missed it. 

This year the NCSI Annual Conference is from June 12 -15 at the Hyatt Resort & Spa at Gainey Ranch in Scottsdale, AZ. Register for the meeting at 2022 NCSI Annual Conference ( Hotel reservations can be made here: Scottsdale Family Resort near Gainey Ranch | Hyatt Regency Scottsdale Resort and Spa

This Conference features one of the more interesting agendas for both self-insurers and the industry in general. Here’s a sampling of what I saw as the more interesting parts of the program. You can view the full agenda here: 2022 Annual Meeting Agenda - Subject To Change.pdf ( The Conference starts June 12 with the Self-Insurers Administrators Roundtable and a Guaranty Fund Meeting.

Monday morning, June 13, Max Koonce, Chief Claims Officer of Sedgwick (an MSIA member), provides the Keynote address. Other personal highlights for the first day include “3 Characteristics of a High-Performing Workers’ Compensation Program,” “Leaking the Truth,” “Pharmacovigilance: Protecting Your Employees,” presented by Phill Walls, Chief Clinical Officer of MyMatrixx (an MSIA member) and “Promoting Health Habits for Mental Wellness for Claims Professionals.”

The Conference continues with “Expecting the Unexpected: Leading a Resilient Claims Organization in a Time of Uncertainty and Rapid Change,” featuring Rachel Fikes of Rising Medical (a likely MSIA member), Denise Zoe Algire of Albertson’s (a likely MSIA member), Dr. Tyrone Spears of the City of Los Angeles and Victoria Kennedy of the WA Department of Labor and Industries.

Mark Pew speaks about the Science of Cannabis (Pew is featured at our Governor’s Conference this year) and Ann Klein, President of Majoris Health (an MSIA member) presents “How to identify and engage partners inside & outside your organization to turn crisis into opportunity.”

Other highlights from day two address using Defense Counsel as an effective part of Medicare Compliance, Social Determinants of Health in WC Claims, Long-term Mental Health and Medical Implications of COVID-19 and When Your Excess Carrier Fails You.

Finally – there is a discussion of Cyber Currency and Traditional Injury Defenses by Curt DeVries, President of Fraudsniffr.

This is a Conference to make sure you attend. Again, the topics are great and the opportunity to socialize and learn from some of the larger and most influential companies and self-insurers in the country makes it well worth the effort. MSIA is a member of the NCSI.

Governors’ Conference 9/28 – 9/30 - Registration Open – Book Your Rooms NOW!

Registraion for the annual Montana Governor’s Conference on Workers’ Compensation has opened. This year the meeting will be at the Hilton Garden Inn in Missoula 9/28 – 9/30. Early registration discounts are currently available. However, hotel rooms in the area are going fast.

I am told there are no more rooms at the Hilton Garden Inn and the first alternative is a $199 per night block of rooms at the Courtyard Missoula Book Your Group Rate | Marriott International. You can try the Hilton Garden Inn at 406-532-5300 and reference the Governor’s Conference on Workers’ Compensation.

The MSIA Business and Annual Meeting will also be held in conjunction with the Governor’s Conference. We will start with our Business Meeting at 8:30a on Wednesday 9/28 and then open the meeting to all Conference attendees for our Annual Meeting at 9a. The MSIA Business Meeting is for members only – both Associate and Employer members are necessary for a quorum. If you cannot join us, please provide your proxy in writing, in advance of the meeting. More details regarding the meeting will be released during the summer.

Governor’s Conference speakers this year (in order) are scheduled to be:

  • Alan Pierce “State of the Workers’ Compensation System.” Pierce is a partner in Pierce, Pierce & Napolitano and is a plaintiff attorney in Salem, MA. He was part of the panel presentation on the National Commission report 50 years later at the WCRI meeting in March.
  • Dr. John Schumpert – “Plumbing & Wiring: Thoracic Outlet Syndrome.” Dr. Schumpert was the states’ first WC Medical Director and is founder of the Resources for Environmental and Occupational Health, Inc (REOH). He currently practices with REOH in Missoula.
  • Bob Wilson – “When Words Don’t Help.” – Bob was the MSIA Annual Meeting speaker last year. He is founder of and recently announced his retirement from the company. Bob will also be presenting later in the program with Mark Pew (below) “The 6 Things You Need To Do.”
  • Patrick Robinson – “Using ODG’s Formulary to IOmprove Workers’ Compensation Outcomes.” Patrick is an attorney and MBA with a concentration in healthcare management. He is VP of Government Affairs at ODG.
  • Mark Pew – “Lighting the Torch.” Mark is a nationally known as the Rx Professor. He is a passionate educator, agitator and workers’ compensation blogger. Mark will also be presenting later in the program with Bob Wilson (above) “The 6 Things You Need To Do.”
  • Peter Strauss – “Workers’ Compensation Trends, Topics and What Will Happen (Maybe).” Audience members are advised to bring a coin to flip as that is about as accurate as my predictions of WC activity for the next year.
  • Judge David Sander – “Workers’ Compensation Court Case Review.” This annual topic is always interesting and provides insight into what Judge Sandler expects regarding cases that come before him.
  • Dr’s Maggie Cook-Shimanek, Devin Owens, John Petrisko, John Schumpert and Hans Schwertz will participate in the Physician Roundtable discussing Hot Topics in Workers’ Compensation.
  • Dr. Cook-Shimanek is the Medical Director for the Montana Department of Labor
  • Dr. Devin Owens is an Associate Physician, Occupational Medicine with the Billings Clinic in Bozeman
  • Dr. John Petrisko is the Department Chair of Occupational Medicine and Medical Director of Employee Health at the Billings Clinic in Billings
  • Dr. John Schumpert is founder of and practices at REOH in Missoula
  • Dr. Hansjorg Schwertz is an Associate Physician, Occupational Medicine with the Billings Clinic in Bozeman
  • Kevin Bartsch, Jaimie Kern and Chris Simonson panel discussion “The Evolution of Working Claims.”
  • Kevin Bartsch is the Assistant Director of Workers’ Compensation Pool Operations for the Montana Schools Group Interlocal Authority (MSGIA) – an MSIA member.
  • Jaimie Kern is the Montana Claims Manager for Intermountain Claims, Inc a Third-Party Administrator – an MSIA member.
  • Chris Simonson is a Claims Manager at Montana State Fund.
  • Amber Worman and Ciara Koba “Medicare Set-Asides.” Worman and Koba presented the first MSIA Webinar on the topic and are nationally recognized for their work in the field.
  • Amber Worman is the Senior Claims Examiner for the Montana Municipal Interlocal Authority (MMIA) – an MSIA member.
  • Ciara Koba is a Principal Partner in AllanKoba Compliance Solutions in Buffalo, NY. 
  • Tamara Hall – “If We Share The Vision, Why Do We Argue.” Keynote Speaker, Premiere Speaker’s Bureau and owner of Communications Plus based in Bozeman.

Montana State Fund Annual Medical Conference - May 19 & 20

The 20th Annual Montana State Fund Medical Conference will be held at the Delta Hotel, in Helena, May 19 & 20. This year the Conference is titled, Harnessing the Future of Workers’ Compensation. You can register here Montana State Fund 20th Annual Medical Conference (

This year’s conference topics include:

  • Occupational Injury Causation: Fact or Fiction – Mark Melhorn, MD, Clinical Assistant Profession of Orthorpaedics, University of Kansas
  • Reducing Costs & Improving Outcomes – Marcus Nynas, DC, FICC, Insurance Chair, American Chiropractic Association
  • Top Ten Medical Predictions in Workers’ Compensation – Stuart Colburn, Attorney at Law, Downs Stanford, PC
  • Medical Marijuana: Delving Into the Weeds – Kathy Collins, PharmD, BCPS, Craig Hospital
  • Issues with Independent Medical Evaluations from the Workers’ Compensation Court Perspective - Judge David Sandler, Montana Workers’ Compensation Court Judge
  • Empowering Evidence-Based Claims Decisions Through Advocacy – Denise Zoe Algire, MBA, RN, Albertson’s Copmpanies
  • Physical Medicine & Rehab – Dr. Tutukamen Pappoe, MD, Clarus IME
  • When Change Chooses You: My Remarkable Journey with Paralysis – Dale Hyll, MD, MPA, Executive Director Neuroworx

Registration is $225 and continuing education credits for medical professionals, attorneys and claims examiners is expected to be available. I was part of the team that produced the MSF Annual Medical Conference from 2003 – 2017. The Conference provides two main benefits – a first rate medical education from practicing and involved medical professionals in Montana and nationally and the opportunity to get together with the Montana workers’ compensation community. Medical education credits are being provided through MSIA member SCL Health.

WCRI & IAIABC Publish Updated Summary of Workers’ Compensation Laws as of January 1, 2022

A few years ago, the Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), based in Cambridge, MA and the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC), based near Madison, WI started publishing a Comparison of Workers’ Compensation Laws, once the US Department of Labor (USDOL) stopped. USDOL pioneered the use of a standard set of tables to promote uniformity in responses across states and consistency in reports from year to year. That has proven to be invaluable in making reasonable comparisons across state lines in the US and provincial lines in Canada.

This new update provides all the traditional information regarding Temporary Benefit Levels, Permanent and Fatality Benefit Levels, Coverage of Mental Stress, Cumulative Trauma, Hearing Loss and Disfigurement, Choice of Provider law comparisons, and this year adds information about “presumption of causation” which includes the COVID law and regulation changes, as well as presumptions for first responders and the availability of hearings and legal proceedings virtually. I have found this, among other WCRI studies, invaluable in my understanding of our and other states’ Workers’ Compensation systems.

For more information from WCRI about the study, visit the WCRI website at, or contact me. MSIA is a member of WCRI.