I was invited to speak at Montana’s annual Governor’s Conference on Work Comp, and came away with a few brief but telling impressions.
- Governor Steve Bullock actually came and spoke to the 300+ attendees, and he knew what he was talking about. Impressive.
- Lieutenant Governor John Walsh is heavily involved in comp, is quite knowledgeable and leads the Labor Management Activity Council.
- The LMAC leaders spent an hour fielding questions from attendees, seeking feedback on recent reforms, asking what can be done better, and listening hard to any and all comments.
Several years ago, Montana’s work comp costs were the highest in the nation. Now, they’ve dropped substantially, driven by frequency as well as decreases in indemnity expenses. Perhaps the best news is their medical costs have inched up a mere 2 percent over the last three years, this while the rest of the nation has seen about a ten point jump.
The reforms, which include adoption of evidence-based medical guidelines, closing of medical after five years, and changes to wage-loss payments, have made a big difference. But they would not be nearly as effective if not for the State’s ongoing commitment to make sure they are implemented correctly, changed when needed, and supported by stakeholders.
They aren’t all the way there; but the folks from Big Sky Country are well on the way.