Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation
IAIABC: Please provide a description of your organization.
Joseph Cortese II, Iowa Workers’ Compensation Commissioner, Iowa Division of Workers' Compensation: The Iowa Division of Workers’ Compensation (IDWC) limits its work almost exclusively to the adjudication of litigated workers’ compensation claims in the State of Iowa. Other functions, which in other states are part of their workers’ compensation agencies, are handled by other agencies in Iowa. For example, workers’ compensation regulatory functions in Iowa are handled by the Iowa Insurance Commissioner’s Office. The Iowa Division of Labor, the Division of Unemployment Insurance, and Iowa Vocational Rehabilitation, are separate state agencies in Iowa.
IDWC’s staff consists of 26 people: 13 administrative law judges who hear the cases at the trial level, the Commissioner, who serves as both the appeals judge and the chief administrator of the agency, the Assistant Commissioner, who handles most of the administrative work on a day-to-day basis, and ten other support staff members. IDWC was founded in 1913, when Iowa enacted its first workers’ compensation legislation.
IAIABC: How does your organization serve the workers' compensation industry or what do you see as the most important role you play in the workers' compensation industry?
JC: IDWC serves the Iowa workers' compensation community as the administrative law court for litigated workers’ compensation cases in Iowa. Our mission is to adjudicate litigated workers’ compensation cases as quickly and as efficiently as possible while providing a fair result for the parties involved.
IAIABC: Are there any projects/programs/initiatives going on at your organization that you are particularly excited or enthusiastic about?
JC: In July 2019 IDWC went live with its new Workers’ Compensation Electronic System (WCES – pronounced “wick-ess”), which took three years to develop and implement. WCES provides for paperless filing and docketing of all pleadings and all other documents which come into the agency, it provides for vastly enhanced case management and EDI functions, and it allows for automated scheduling of hearings. We continue to learn how to utilize all of the many functions which WCES enables us to perform. WCES has revolutionized the day-to-day operations of IDWC.
IAIABC: Why is your organization a member of the IAIABC? What would you tell others about the benefits of membership?
JC: The IAIABC is a very valuable resource for all its members. IDWC is a member of IAIABC to stay on top of all developments, and to be involved in the industry-wide discussions, surrounding all aspects of workers’ compensation. The IAIABC was most helpful in providing IDWC with much-needed guidance in many ways throughout the process of developing and implementing WCES and in converting from EDI Release 2 to EDI Release 3.1. We view IAIABC as an indispensable partner in carrying out our mission to serve the people of the State of Iowa.