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Advisory groups

Medical Advisory Committee

The members advise the director on matters relating to medical care for workers. In 1999, Senate Bill 222 revised the composition and duties of this statutory committee. The statute allows the director to appoint medical providers that most represent the health care services provided to injured workers, which may include representatives of insurers, employers, and managed care organizations.

Management-Labor Advisory Committee

In recognition of the success of the governor’s labor-management committee in crafting the 1990 reforms, the Legislature created the Management-Labor Advisory Committee (MLAC). The committee has 10 representatives, five representing management interests and five representing labor interests. The committee advises the department on workers’ compensation matters such as administrative rules and proposed legislation. Over time, the Legislature has mandated that the committee review certain issues such as the adequacy of the Workers’ Benefit Fund balance and permanent partial disability awards. The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) has recognized Oregon’s workers’ compensation system as a model that could provide lessons for other states. The 2008 study “Lessons from the Oregon Workers’ Compensation System” provided four key lessons. One of these lessons is the cooperation between management and labor that is embodied in the Management-Labor Advisory Committee.

WCRI listed six factors in the design and operation of MLAC that are associated with its effectiveness in bringing about orderly and lasting change in the Oregon system:

  • Labor and management, not other interest groups, influence but do not control the system through MLAC. MLAC is composed of five voting representatives from business and five from labor; the DCBS director is an ex-officio member.
  • The governor vows to veto any workers' compensation bill that does not gain advisory committee (i.e., labor and management) endorsement. This feature has been the cornerstone of Oregon’s advisory-committee process. In making such a vow, the governor has effectively said no to other interest groups unless management and labor have approved.
  • The Legislature usually defers to MLAC. The advisory committee enjoys the support of legislators. Legislative caucus leaders and committee chairs generally understand that workers’ compensation bills should first be vetted by MLAC.
  • The state agency actively supports MLAC by conducting studies and drafting legislative proposals. Most MLAC members said it is critical that the state agency conduct special studies to provide input to their deliberations.
  • Public input is encouraged through testimony at MLAC meetings and other mechanisms. This enables all parties to express concern, advocate, raise questions, and voice opposition.
  • Subcommittees are often used to hear testimony, narrow issues, and consider changes to legislative proposals. This enables the advisory committee to draw on technical experts on technical issues, and it allows for the division of labor among MLAC members, who are volunteers.
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