Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Commission
IAIABC: Please provide a description of your organization.
Collin Fowler, Director of Communication and Administration, Oklahoma Workers' Compensation Commission: In 2013, the Oklahoma Legislature reformed the workers' compensation through Senate Bill 1062 by establishing the Administrative Workers' Compensation Act (AWCA). The AWCA created the Workers’ Compensation Commission (WCC), which became fully operational effective February 1, 2014. The WCC provides a forum for workers’ compensation hearings and appeals, ensures compliance with relevant statutes by employers, and regulates organizations who wish to self-fund their workers’ compensation obligations.
The Workers’ Compensation Commission is composed of three full-time Commissioners, appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the State Senate to serve staggered terms. The Commissioners are state officers precluded from having any other employment except as may be permitted by law. The Chair of the Commission is appointed by the Governor from among the Commission members. Commissioners perform adjudicative, administrative, and regulatory functions. Those functions include: (1) hearing appeals from decisions and awards of the agency’s Administrative Law Judges (ALJs); (2) promulgating rules necessary for the administration and operation of the Commission; (3) regulating employers which self-insure their workers’ compensation obligations; (4) maintaining the Commission’s Vocational Rehabilitation Registry and lists of Independent Medical Examiners and Medical Case Managers; (5) managing the agency’s budget; (6) interacting regularly with the Self-insurance Guaranty Fund Board and workers’ compensation advisory bodies to the Commission; (7) participating in educational programs, including an annual, Commission-sponsored workers’ compensation conference; and (8) such other matters necessary for administration and operation of the agency.
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?
CF: The mission of the Workers’ Compensation Commission is to serve the public by providing a fair and unbiased forum for the hearing and efficient processing of worker injury claim disputes, to evaluate and administer own-risk applications, and to ensure statutory compliance of those employers required to provide workers' compensation coverage.
To fulfill its mission, the Commission conducts a multitude of functions. The Commission processes requests and notices for claims, settlements, hearings, trials, dockets and orders. It also receives notices and filings, certifies documents, prepares and transmits records on appeal, and provides public access to Commission files and records, as authorized by law. To facilitate compliance, the Commission maintains Worker’s Compensation insurance proof of coverage records for employers and regulates and third-party administrators. The Commission also provides counseling services to its stakeholders. These services are carried out by a staff of 43 employees in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. This includes six Administrative Law Judges that hear the cases brought to the Worker’s Compensation Commission.
IAIABC: Are there any projects/programs/initiatives going on at your organization that you are particularly excited or enthusiastic about?
CF: To provide more efficient services to the public, the Commission is continuing its modernization efforts to replace of its antiquated case system, the Workers’ Compensation Information System (WCIS.) The new system, CaseOK, currently features numerous improvements in staff work-flow and public access and facilitates the Commission’s application process for Self-Insured Employers, Group Self-Insurance Associations, and Third-Party Administrators, as well as the filing process for the Affidavit of Exempt Status. The first phase of the project is complete, and the Commission is continuing development in the second phase of the project in 2021. CaseOK's new electronic features will provide digital solutions and services to help the Commission, claimants, practitioners, and other stakeholders operate more efficiently.
IAIABC: Why is your organization a member of the IAIABC? What would you tell others about the benefits of membership?
CF: The Oklahoma Workers’ Compensation Commission is a proud member of the IAIABC. The WCC is constantly striving to improve its services for the State of Oklahoma, and the IAIABC is a valuable resource for everyone in the world of workers’ compensation.