Title: Executive director of the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI)
Resume: Prior to working at the institute, Dr. Victor spent seven years conducting research at The Rand Corporation in both Washington, D.C., and Santa Monica, California. At Rand, he was a principal researcher at the Institute for Civil Justice.
Schools: Dr. Victor received his J.D. and Ph.D. (economics) degrees at the University of Michigan, where he was the George Humphrey Fellow in Law and Economic Policy.
Mentors: The people who have been most influential on his thinking are Professor Peter Barth from the University of Connecticut, and the WCRI board of directors.
Favorite book: Doomsday by Chris Buckley
As executive director of the Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Workers' Compensation Research Institute (WCRI), Victor has overseen the development of numerous studies and analysis that have added ammunition for the reforms to various aspects of the workers' comp system. Dr. Victor is the author of numerous books and articles on worker’s comp issues. He frequently comes to California to discuss research on the state workers’ comp system. WCRI could be considered a national version of the California Workers’ Compensation Institute. Prior to working at the institute, Dr. Victor spent seven years conducting research at The Rand Corporation in both Washington, D.C., and Santa Monica, California. At Rand, he was principal researcher at the Institute for Civil Justice.
What do you see, other than medical, as the next big cost driver?
I see growing duration of disability as we now have in the labor market as a whole, not necessarily just for injured workers. Among those who are unemployed, more than half have been unemployed for more than six months. That’s 7 million unemployed workers. That’s the labor market that injured workers have to look for work in. That’s going to be much tougher for them to find work, which means it will take them longer to get back to work. That’s been very different from past recessions.
What does previous research on predesignation show?
I only know of one study, and it’s been done by the WCRI, that shows that the opportunity for workers to predesignate costs a little bit more than when the employer chooses the doctor. The workers are much more satisfied. Their recovery of health and return-to-work stay about the same [whether or not they predesignate a doctor.]
What does research indicate are the three biggest cost drivers in workers’ comp?
Medical utilization of hospital outpatients, medical prices, and delays in getting back to work [are the three biggest cost drivers. Medical prices refers to] hospital and device prices more than anything else. With regards to the delays in getting people back to work, even before the economy turned down, one big cost driver was getting people back to work as quickly as desirable.