The Vermont Labor Department has put off plans to change the way injured workers are evaluated for workers’ compensation claims.
Stephen Monahan, director of the Workers Compensation & Safety Division, on Wednesday asked the Legislature’s Administrative Rules Committee to delay considering new rules, which were on the panel’s agenda for that afternoon.
The section of the new rules that need to be clarified deal with the way the state assesses the injuries that workers suffer on the job, said Monahan.
“Unfortunately, I have just learned that the Division of Vocational Rehabilitation needs to obtain legislative authority to bill for these services, and since such authority cannot be sought and obtained until the new Legislature is in session, it is necessary for the department to develop an interim proposal for these rules,” said a memo Monahan wrote to committee chairman Sen. Mark McDonald, D-Orange, and Vice Chairman Rep. Clinton Martin, D-Springfield.
Monahan said his office would have a new set of proposed rules prepared for the committee to consider at its next meeting, scheduled for Jan. 11.
“We expect to be ready,” Monahan said.
The rules being considered by the Department of Labor would also set the rates to reimburse vocational rehabilitation counselors when treating workers injured on the job.
Monahan said the rates were a compromise.
“Service providers didn’t get everything they wanted,” Monahan said. “It’s a compromise, but it’s a livable schedule.”
The delay is frustrating to people who work in rehabilitation.
“We were hoping it was going to be resolved,” said George Fotinopoulos, a workers’ compensation practictioner from Burlington, who attended the Administrative Rules Committee meeting hoping to see the issue addressed. “We’re still adamant that we’ve got to work to protect injured workers’ rights.”
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