Montana Self Insurers' Association


  • MSIA Business & Annual Meeting – Sept 11 
  • Governor’s Conference – Butte - Sept 11 -13
  • MT WC System Annual Updates – SAWW Up 4.8% to $1084
  • Welcome New MSIA Member - Bardavon Health Innovations
  • Montana Primary Results – What Does It Mean for Us?

MSIA Business & Annual Meeting – September 11 @ 8:15 – All Are Requested to Attend

The MSIA Business & Annual Meeting will kick off the Governor’s Conference, this year held in Butte, September 11 - 13. We start at 8:15a on September 11 for members only. ALL members are welcome - and requested - to attend to meet the quorum requirements. 

We will go through the 

  • Members public policy survey responses, 
  • Budget and Financial Reports 
  • Bylaws review and 
  • Election of Board members. 

For those interested in volunteering for the Board, please contact the MSIA office at your convenience. We have three seats up for election, the Vice Chair, Secretary/Treasurer and one of the at large seats. To our knowledge, the incumbents are interested in continuing on the Board and if desired, we can add more members. MSIA has brought in 11 new members in the last year. 

This next year will be another legislative session (see the primary results comments below) and we will have no shortage of workers’ compensation issues to address, including those we are championing – litigation reform and clarification of employer provided transportation liability. The Annual Meeting will immediately follow at 9a and will be open to all. 

If you cannot attend the MSIA Business Meeting – PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE provide your Proxy for quorum purposes. With so many new members, we need a larger and larger number of members to be present or provide their quorum proxy to conduct our business. 

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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 11, 2024.  

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Governor’s Conference – Butte - Sept 11 - 13

This year’s Governor’s Conference – the largest and most important Montana workers’ compensation conference in the state will be held September 11 – 13 at the Copper King Hotel in Butte. Learn more here: 2024_Conference_AgendaThe Conference has sold out of rooms the past few years – MAKE YOUR RESERVATIONS NOW!

As always, the Conference kicks off with the MSIA Annual Meeting. This year’s featured speaker will be Amy Lee, President of Steadfast Policy Solutions, a consulting group focused on workers’ compensation public policy issues. Lee has been recognized nationally as a leader in workers’ compensation research and regulatory leadership. She has worked with the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute, the IAIABC, and was a fellow at the National Academy of Social Insurance. She has spoken extensively to groups such as WCRI, IAIABC, NCOIL and National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference. 

The Conference theme this year is Better Medical – Better Outcomes and will feature

  • Dr. Ethan Moses – Assessing the Invisible -Psychosocial Screening in WC
  • Dr. Al Olsewski - Knee Injuries & Treatments
  • Dr. Daniel Whiting - Hip Injuries & Treatments
  • Michelle Despres - Return to Work
  • Dr. John Schumpert & Brie Meyer – Unprotected Exposure to Manganese
  • Dr Silvia Sacalis & Dr. Amanda Waltemath – Prescribing Empathy – Patient Well Being in WC Therapy Trends
  • Craig Hospital - Mild to Severe Brain Injuries
  • Dr. Laura Kirsch – Psychological and Nueropsychological IMEs
  • Dr. Michael Wright – Shoulder Conditions & Treatments

As well, we will be treated to some Butte safety history. As the home to one of America’s greatest mining centers, as well as some of its’ most infamous mining tragedies, much of Butte’s business and labor relations history is America’s business and labor relations history. Chris Fisk will review the Speculator Mine Disaster and lessons learned, many of which are still in use today. 

  • Kerri Poe, Hany Abelsayed & Johnny Meyer will talk about MSA’s and their combined hands-on approach. CMS has let us all know about their starting to audit WC reporting in October and new reporting requirements next spring (2025). MSA’s and CMS reporting continue to be on the industry’s radar and will take on more importance as we move forward.  
  • MT WCC Judge Lee Bruner will round out the Conference with his Case Review. Judge Bruner brings a different perspective to the Court and his insights are very likely to be different than those heard before. 

Learn more and register here: 2024_Conference_Agenda

MT WC System Annual Updates – SAWW Up 4.84% to $1084

The Department of Labor has released the new updates for the State Average Weekly Wage (SAWW), the COLA increase and the update for the interest rate for calculations used to get to present value. Notably, the SAWW has increased by almost 5% (4.84%) continuing a trend in higher than usual wages in the state since the COVID pandemic. The notices and information is available through the following links. The new values go into effect for new claims or payments on or after July 1, 2024 and will be in effect until June 30, 2025.

Welcome New MSIA Member – Bardavon Health Innovations

Bardavon is setting new standards in how workers’ compensation rehabilitation is delivered with its unique blend of high-touch, tech-enabled solutions designed to support employers in managing musculoskeletal (MSK) health for their workforce. Providing both preventative and post-injury solutions, Bardavon’s nationwide network of physical and occupational therapists covers all 50 states and reaches 94% of America’s workforce. Bardavon offers personalized, end-to-end treatment solutions designed to help both healthy and injured employees not only recover but live healthier and move well. Learn more from Alex Benson, CEO at

Montana Primary Results – What Does It Mean for Us? 

While the legislature is very likely to remain solidly Republican, no one seems to expect the super-majority we saw in the last legislative session. Not that it did the Republicans much good. While they held a trifecta ticket, with veto-proof majorities in both chambers and the Governor’s seat, they seemed to fight with each other more than when they had to work with the Democrats to address important issues. 

Montana is very likely to continue to have a Republican majority in both chambers. There were no surprises in the federal races – other than perhaps the Democratic result for the eastern house district. John Driscoll spent little money yet captured the Democratic primary victory. He will face off against current Republican State Auditor (and Commissioner of Securities and Insurance) Troy Downing . Incumbent Matt Rosendale declared for the US Senate seat, primarying Tim Sheehy for the right to run against incumbent Jon Tester. Then Rosendale dropped out of that race, and ultimately decided against running for his Congressional seat again – leading to a slew of Republicans vying for the right to run with the party’s endorsement. The seat is expected to remain Republican.

The state Senate and House races were much more interesting – at least to us geeks. ‘Moderate’ Republicans took on ‘Conservative’ Republicans in a number of races and the results produced what many are considering some moderation in the hard-line Republican numbers. House ‘Moderates’ Llew Jones (R-Conrad and Chair of the Appropriations Committee) and Ed Buttrey (R Great Falls and Chair of the Business & Labor Committee), David Bedey (R-Hamilton), Courtenay Sprunger (R-Kalispell) and Brad Barker (R-Roberts) won their challenges from the right. At the same time, Tony Brockman (R-Kalispell) lost to newcomer and much harder hard-liner 18 year old Lukas Schubert.

In family news, Speaker Pro Tem Rhonda Knudsen and challenger Miles Knudsen also both more conservative (and mother of AG Austin Knudesn and her husband) lost their primaries. As did incumbent Lola Sheldon-Galloway and her incumbent husband Steven Galloway. Steven lost to the wife of incumbent George Nikolakakos, Melissa Nikolakakos (George also won). The Galloways and the Nikolakakos’s are from Great Falls. The legislature and Montana leadership is becoming more of a family affair. The Regier (R), Zolnikov (R), Trebas (R) and Morigeau (D) families also have multiple seats, or are expected to after the election in November.  

The Governor made endorsements in 24 contested Republican primaries and his supported candidates won in 19 of those races. That in and of itself is unusual as sitting Governors rarely declare for one person over another in a party primary. Another group of what can be termed relatively moderate republicans called Conservatives4MT, endorsed 27 individuals and reported to have spent almost $250,000 on their behalf. They were successful in 17 of those races. 

What does it mean for us? MSIA tries to work with everyone – we try not to take hard-line positions on either side. Our issues require sound business thinking and reasonable approaches towards what will help make the business/labor relations in the state better and will improve our system and the state’s economic well-being. Sometimes that means opposing the ‘harder’ positions of both parties – our goal is always to make a positive difference in our business rather than taking a political position. Last session, for example, we saw a choice of provider bill introduced by a ‘moderate’ republican and supported by some more conservative members. That would normally be expected to come from Democrats – and more liberal Democrats at that. So….the lesson is keep your powder dry, expect the election to continue to provide some surprises and – be prepared for anything.