Nashville, TN – On April 29, 2013, Governor Bill Haslam signed the bill known as the Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2013. One of the sections of the new law was T.C.A. § 50-6-134, which stated that the Division (renamed Bureau in 2015) of Workers’ Compensation shall on or before July 1, 2015, review the impact of the Reform Act on the Tennessee workers’ compensation system and deliver a report on its findings to each member of the General Assembly. The first of those annual reports has now been released:
The Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2013 became effective on July 1, 2014. During the time since the passage of the bill, the Bureau has implemented the provisions of the bill with success and the results are already beginning to be apparent. The milestones of the implementation are:
- Governor Haslam appointed Abbie Hudgens, administrator, effective July 1, 2013 for a term of six years.
- On July 1, 2014, the Tennessee the Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims went into effect with the historic result that state trial courts will no longer decide disputed workers’ compensation claims. Instead, administrative courts devoted exclusively to workers’ compensation claims will make these decisions.
- The construction of the workers’ compensation statute changed to one that required the new workers’ compensation courts to construe the statute fairly and impartially in claims for injuries that occur on July 1, 2014 or later.
- Administrator Hudgens appointed 8 workers’ compensation claims court judges in June 2014 and 4 judges in June 2015.
- The Governor appointed 3 appeals board judges August 1, 2014.
- The Bureau developed and implemented an ombudsman program in the spring of 2014. Ombudsmen began to assist to self-represented employees and employers July 1, 2014.
- The Administrator selected a set of advisory guidelines for adoption for the medical treatment of workers’ compensation injuries in April 2015 upon the recommendation of the Medical Advisory Committee.
- The Bureau conducted education and training programs across the state on the aspects of the new law and how to develop more effective workers’ compensation programs.
The report provides detailed information on the implementation of the Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2013 and the impact the new law has had in its first year. The Tennessee experience with its Reform Act has been positive and has already resulted in a workers’ compensation system that is timelier, provides new sources of assistance to parties who are self-represented, more consistent, and less costly. The Bureau expects that the next several years will include additional and significant outcomes to benefit employees and employers.
The Bureau noted its appreciation for Governor Haslam and the General Assembly’s interest in the workers’ compensation system and their support of the reform initiative, which enables them to serve the state and its citizens better.
To read the full report, click here: TN Bureau of Workers’ Compensation: Impact of the Workers’ Compensation Reform Act of 2013 (PDF)
Source: TN Bureau of Workers’ Compensation