A transition team composed of Texas Department of Insurance and Texas Workers’ Compensation Commission staff has begun planning implementation of the organizational and policy changes to the Texas workers’ compensation system enacted in House Bill 7.
TDI announced it is currently analyzing HB 7 and drafting language for rules for workers’ compensation networks. In order to obtain input from as many stakeholders as possible, a meeting for interested persons has been scheduled on July 12, 2005, from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. in Room 100 at TDI. Written comments may be e-mailed to WCNet@tdi.state.tx.us until July 20. The department said staff will not be able to respond to each comment in writing, but noted that all comments will be considered in drafting proposed rules at a later date.
HB 7, relating to the reform of the Texas workers’ compensation system, was signed by Gov. Rick Perry on June 1. HB 7 transfers the functions of the TWCC to the newly created Division of Workers’ Compensation at the TDI effective Sept. 1. A Workers’ Compensation Commissioner will be appointed by the governor to administer this division by Oct. 1.
In addition, HB 7 creates a new state agency, the Office of Injured Employee Counsel (OIEC), to provide assistance to injured employees and administer TWCC’s ombudsman program, effective Sept. 1. The governor will appoint the Public Counsel of the OIEC by Oct. 1.
A summary of HB 7 prepared by TWCC can be found at http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/commish/hb7changes.html (HTML); or http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/general/pdf/hb7changes.pdf (PDF).
TDI said it is committed to completing a successful transfer of functions and implementing the policy changes enacted in HB 7. TDI, the Division of Workers’ Compensation and the Office of Injured Employee Counsel will be partners in fulfilling the legislature’s intent of delivering cost-efficient and quality medical care to injured employees and improving customer service to system participants. At this time, it is expected that the Division of Workers’ Compensation and the newly created Office of Injured Employee Counsel will remain at the current TWCC locations.
TDI is working to present its draft language as an informal proposal for comment and will request comments on the formal proposed rule when published in the Texas Register. HB 7 requires that rules related to workers’ compensation networks be adopted no later than Dec. 1, and that applications for certification as a workers’ compensation network be accepted by TDI starting Jan. 1, 2006.
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