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Bruce Wick
By: Paul Stremple
Bruce Wick

Title: Director of Risk Management, California Professional Association of Specialty Contractors
Resume: Wick has 25 years of risk management experience. Wick is an industry leader and educator on issues critical to the construction industry. His expertise in the areas of workers’ comp, Cal/OSHA, construction defect, general liability and workplace safety make him a frequently sought presenter throughout California.
Boards and commissions: He sits on several Cal/OSHA advisory committees and has been instrumental in the area of improved protection against falls on construction sites.

A prominent employer voice, Wick is a public member of the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California and acts as a passionate voice on behalf of employers. This includes supporting better access to workers’ comp information for employers, questioning WCIRB data, and advocating against excessive rate increases. He applauded the insurance commissioner’s decision to deny WCIRB’s recommended rate increase in July 2010.

What are the top three issues in California workers’ comp today?  
One issue is the disparity in advisory rate projections. Typically WCIRB publishes one set of rates and the Department of Insurance actuaries are different, by usually 10 points, and the public actuaries are closer to the CDI actuaries. You’d like California to be able to say, “Here’s a credible set of base rates,” but we don’t have that kind of credibility.
Another issue is promoting medical provider networks (MPNs). I think they can be a great help if they’re set up really well. They have the potential to do well if they’re set up properly, and if the party setting up the MPN doesn’t have to fear a lawsuit for excluding providers. Establishing high-quality MPNs is a major help to reducing claims cost
A third improvement would come from better understanding and research on outcome-based medical care.

Are we headed for a hard market, and if so, when will it come? How long should we expect it to last? What are the repercussions?  
Most would say we’re headed to a harder market—it probably won’t stay in the position it’s in—but it’s anybody’s guess how much harder it moves in the next 2-3 years.

It’s no longer a question of if but when we enter a hard market, so what is in the future of State Compensation Insurance Fund? Will its market share climb back to historic levels? Do you think that further reforms are needed for the governance of State Fund, for example, does it make sense to have Senate confirmation for board members?  
In my opinion, when the market turns harder, I don’t think [SCIF’s] market share will climb to historic levels, because the reforms established a baseline. Carriers feel comfortable that claims in the future won’t run away from them. State Fund will probably increase some level of market share, but I don’t think it’ll go to historic levels.

How should utilization review be improved?  
To me, it relates to the MPN question. If the claims payer has a good working relationship with an MPN, there should be a lot less need for utilization review (UR). Improving the relationship and quality of the MPN goes a long way to solving the so-called UR problem.

What needs to be done to improve return-to-work?  
I’m not sure that there’s anything more you can do to improve return-to-work. There are employer incentives in place. It’s a derivative of the outcome-based protocols. Not much can be done in the legislative arena to improve [return-to-work].

What is the effect of more than $1 billion in payroll being absorbed by self-insured groups?  
Self-insured groups growing in market share is the reality. In a sense, it’s healthy competition that goes back to the original question of as long as we have a credible advisory rate so that carriers continue to compete, even if there is less payroll, in the rating base, it’s a healthy feature of the California workers’ comp system.