State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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Public Meeting of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board

February 6, 2012

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March 5, 2012

A meeting of the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board was held on Monday, March 5, 2012 at 10:00 a.m. at the Office of the Chairman, 21 Oak Street, 4th Floor, Hartford, CT.

Agenda Topics

  1. Opening Remarks
  2. Chairman Mastropietro’s Update
  3. Approval of Minutes
  4. New Business
  5. Adjournment

Minutes

A regular meeting of the Workers' Compensation Commission Advisory Board was held on March 5, 2012 in the Workers' Compensation Commission's CRB Hearing Room, 21 Oak Street, Hartford, Connecticut.

The meeting convened at 10:10 a.m. with the following Board Members present: Chairman Gardner Wright, John Adamson, Rocco Calo, Michael Dimenstein, Theodore Duarte, Linda Passanisi and Donald Shubert. Daniel Krause and Gregory Nokes were unable to attend. Also present from the Workers' Compensation Commission were Chairman John Mastropietro and Marvin Smernoff. Nathan Shafner, Esquire, attended as a member of the public.

  1. Opening Remarks
    1. Chairman Gardner Wright welcomed the group.
  2. Chairman Mastropietro’s Update
    1. Chairman Mastropietro discussed pending legislation including Governor Malloy’s budget reductions which involve the closure of the Middletown District Office and consolidation of the Workers’ Compensation Commission under the Department of Labor.
    2. He shared that the Commission exceeded its goal of scheduling first Informal hearings within 28 days of the request by reaching a wait time of 24.1 days.
  3. Presentation by Nathan Shafner, Esquire
    1. Chairman Wright welcomed Attorney Nathan Shafner who spoke on House Bill 5016. Attorney Shafner expressed his concerns that the bill actually dismantles the structure of the Workers’ Compensation Commission in that it specifically removes the Chairman’s discretionary powers and places the agency under the control and authority of the Labor Commissioner. Under the bill, the Chairman would retain the authority to designate commissioners’ assignments, but would have to report to the Labor Commissioner to make any policy changes. He discussed delays and problems that would occur in responding to constituent/claimant inquiries due to the additional layers. In addition, he foresees problems with the Chairman’s ability to work closely with insurance companies and third party administrators to remedy miscommunications and misunderstandings of the workers’ compensation processes.
    2. Attorney Shafner expressed further concern that the proposed legislation authorizes the Labor Commissioner to chair the Advisory Board. The Advisory Board chairman’s role will change because he/she is chosen by the Governor. The Advisory Board’s mandate is to be independent in order to make recommendations to the Workers’ Compensation Commission Chairman, as well as renomination recommendations to the Governor. He sees changing the Advisory Board Chairman’s role as removing the independent nature intended for the Advisory Board.
    3. Finally, he stated, the Workers’ Compensation Commission is an independent body and unlike any other agency has its own adjudicatory function and appeal board to decide cases free of political will. Those states that are under the umbrella of their Labor Departments don’t function very well as evidenced by Rhode Island which recently reversed moving the Workers’ Compensation Commission under its Labor Department because it wasn't a successful merger. The Rhode Island Workers’ Compensation System is now part of the Rhode Island Unified Court System under the Judicial Branch.
    4. Attorney Shafner advised that the Connecticut Bar Association, the Workers’ Compensation Section of the Connecticut Bar Association, and the Trial Lawyers Association have all formally and unanimously taken a strong position against the legislation.
    5. Attorney Shafner suggested the legislation be revised to set up a study/review committee involving all stakeholders to assess the feasibility of such a potential merger.
    6. The Board agreed they should get on the record with the Appropriations Committee. The members expressed concern over specific areas: (1) they don’t want political influence to alter the adjudicative nature of the Commission and how quickly the Commission operates now; and (2) they don’t want the proposed line of authority to complicate the successful operation of the Commission.
    7. A motion to draft a letter to the Appropriations Committee to express their concerns about House Bill No. 5016 was made by Rocco Calo and seconded by John Adamson. The motion passed unanimously. Discussion continued and the group agreed to task Don Shubert with communicating with Glenn Marshall and the Governor’s Office before proceeding with the written document.
    8. A motion to schedule a special meeting on March 19, 2012 was made by John Adamson and seconded by Don Shubert. The motion passed unanimously.
    9. Lastly, Chairman Wright discussed the Appropriations Committee’s efforts to obtain “Results Based Accountability” from each agency as one of the measures of “impartiality”. Chairman Mastropietro shared that the results of the Commissioners’ evaluations shows that the Commissioners are averaging 89-92% in the column representing that Commissioners are impartial to men, women, minorities, etc.
  4. Approval of Minutes
    1. A motion to approve the February 6, 2012 minutes was made by John Adamson and seconded by Rocco Calo. The motion passed unanimously.
  5. Adjournment
    1. A motion to adjourn the meeting was made by Daniel Krause and seconded by John Adamson. The motion passed unanimously. The meeting was adjourned at 11:40 a.m.
  6. Next Meeting
    1. The next regular meeting will be held on April 2, 2012.

Workers’ Compensation Commission

Page last revised: March 4, 2013

Page URL: http://wcc.state.ct.us/public-meetings/wc-advisory-board/2012/03-05-2012.htm

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State of Connecticut Workers' Compensation Commission, John A. Mastropietro, Chairman
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