About The Alliance


NEW YORK
WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ALLIANCE

Board of Directors
Robert Grey, Chair
Joseph Sensale, Treasurer
Neil Abramson
Ronald Balter
James Buckley
Greg Connors
William Crossett
Louis Dauerer
George Ferro
Erin McCabe
Brian Mittman
Victor Pasternack
Alex Rosado
Donald Shouldice
William Turley
Michael Whitcher

Mailing Address
c/o Grey & Grey, LLP
360 Main Street
Farmingdale, New York
11735

Inquiry Contact:
Robert Grey
Grey & Grey, LLP
(212) 964-1342

ABOUT THE WORKERS’ COMPENSATION ALLIANCE

The Workers' Compensation Alliance is a statewide coalition of injured workers and other stakeholders committed to protecting the rights of injured workers under the New York State Workers' Compensation Law.

Over the past two decades, business and insurance interests have repeatedly claimed that workers’ compensation is a “high cost” to employers, that it saps New York’s economic competitiveness, and that the system must be “reformed” to reduce costs. These efforts have recently been supplemented by several municipal self-insurers, aggrieved by the impact of the state property tax cap on their ability to raise revenue. None of these claims are true. To the contrary, workers’ compensation costs in New York have declined dramatically in the past twenty years, and workers’ compensation is a small and declining portion of employer costs.1 Trends in the law, accelerated by statutory changes in 2007 and a host of administrative and regulatory initiatives, have reduced worker access to benefits and have reduced claim costs across the board. Overall, the cost of workers’ compensation in New York is slightly lower than other costs in the state, and is comparable to similarly situated states.2

Invariably, the target of these cost reduction efforts is benefits for injured workers, whose claims are portrayed as driving increased costs. However, the driving factor in the debate about workers’ compensation is not claim costs, but insurer profits. The simple fact is that insurers benefit from greater system costs. As more money flows through the system, insurer profits increase. To deflect attention from this fact, insurers blame the claims of injured workers when attempting to increase their charges to employers.

The workers’ compensation system is a fundamental part of the social safety net. Just and proper compensation for injured workers should not be sacrificed in order to increase profits for insurance companies.

The Workers' Compensation Alliance advocates for the interests of injured workers across the state, giving voice to their concerns in the public arena, and seeking to protect and preserve their rights.

1 Workers’ Compensation in New York State: Fact and Fiction About System Costs, Workers’ Compensation Alliance, November, 2012 (available at: http://www.nyworkerscompensationalliance.org/CostsWhitePaper.pdf)
2 Id, see also NYCIRB’s Review of Oregon Rate Ranking Study, NYCIRB, April 2013 (available at: http://www.nycirb.org/2007/infsvcs/reports/nycirb_oregon_report.pdf)

Alliance Goals


2007 went down in history as a year of revolutionary reform in the New York Workers' Compensation Law.  2008 saw bureaucratic grid-lock and a failed attempt to bring the AMA Guides to Permanent Impairment to New York.  2009 came and went without reports from many of the Task Forces created by the 2007 amendments to the law.  As a result, tremendous uncertainty remains among injured workers, medical providers and attorneys about the eventual impact of the the reform legislation.  Many important issues for injured workers are unresolved  and subject to future Workers' Compensation Board regulation and interpretation.

For these reasons, the New York Workers' Compensation Alliance must remain vigilant in defending the rights of injured workers.  We will work closely with  the Workers' Compensation Board and our friends in both the State Assembly and the State Senate to protect the due process rights of injured workers.   Our  Legislative Counsel, Richard Winsten, Esq., continues to work tirelessly on our behalf in the corridors and back rooms of the capitol in Albany. In addition, we are pleased to add grass-roots internet lobbying to our arsenal of weapons through CapWiz.

Please download the attached  WCA Membership Application and join the WCA's fight to protect injured workers.  As you can imagine, there are substantial costs to have our  voices heard in Albany.  The entire Board of Directors of the WCA serves voluntarily and without any remuneration.  Our costs are primarily related to supporting our legislative counsel, maintaining our internet presence and contributing to candidates that share our belief that injured workers deserve swift and fair compensation and medical care, in addition to to a hearing upon request at the Workers' Compensation Board

Please  consider joining the WCA today and return to this site for future legislative updates.  If you have any questions regarding membership or other activities of the Workers' Compensation Alliance, please contact the Alliance.

Become a Member


Letter from the WCA Chair

Download file

WCA Membership Application

Download file

Join the WCA

Workers’ Compensation

Alliance
News

Dear Colleagues:

As previously scheduled, the Workers’ Compensation Alliance (WCA) Board of Directors held a meeting on the Friday, July 16, 2010. By vote of the Board at that meeting, I was elected to the position of Chair of the WCA, succeeding co-Chairs Victor Pasternack and Brian Mittman. I write to you today to explain why I am honored to lead the WCA, how we see the current political landscape, why your help is needed, and to offer a preview of what we intend to do.

Our Board is comprised of actively practicing attorneys who are members of some of the foremost firms in our field. Each of us is dedicated to representing injured workers both on an individual level and on the broader social and political stage, and all of us have committed our time, energy, and resources to advancing our cause.

The WCA is Uniquely Positioned to Protect the Rights of Injured Workers.
The WCA is uniquely positioned to protect injured workers and their right to representation, just compensation and due process before the Board.

By appearing at the Workers’ Compensation Board on a regular basis, our members gain valuable real-time insight into the challenges that face practicing attorneys and their clients. In fact, many of our Board members and their firms serve on task forces, committees and commissions throughout the State; thus providing access to important organizations and political figures that influence policy and practice.

Every bit of our practical knowledge, policy influence, and political credibility will be needed in the coming months. (In fact, the WCA has long been represented by the pre-eminent labor lobbyist in Albany building credibility as an established political force.)

The Current Political Landscape and the WCA.
The November elections are less than four months away. There will be a new Governor, a change of leadership in the Senate and Assembly Labor Committees, and it is entirely possible that political control of the State Senate may change hands.

The workers’ compensation system was a high priority for Governor Spitzer during his short tenure, and the process he set in motion has continued through the tenure of Governor Paterson. We anticipate that there will be a sense of urgency in various quarters to complete the “Spitzer reforms” by the end of the year, and as a result we will need to remain vigilant in the defense of our clients and our role as attorneys in the system.

Remaining vigilant requires a unified effort to oppose anti-claimant and anti-attorney changes. In doing so we must keep in mind our core principles and the broader legal and political picture, and resist the urge to take actions that merely provide temporary satisfaction of our own immediate concerns about the trend of injustice we have faced when dealing with the Board and Albany. The simple fact is that issues left unresolved by the present administration may become agenda items for the next administration, and it is unclear whether the environment will improve for injured workers in January. We must therefore make judgments on a case-by-case basis whether we are likely to achieve a better result with an administration we know now, or with one we have yet to meet. As a result, we will have to keep all of our options open, including opposition, negotiation, compromise, and (if indicated) support for any given initiative.

In addition to the upcoming elections, some of the administrative issues that require our attention include

  • the MAP program (which the WCB continues to pursue in various incarnations)
  • the Medical Treatment Guidelines,
  • the absence of Medical Impairment / Loss of Wage Earning Capacity Guidelines,
  • the nominations of Ed Vargas and Charo Ezdrin as WCB Commissioners.

What the WCA Will Do For YOU.
The WCA Board will be meeting on a regular basis to discuss these and other developments and to take public positions in defense of our clients and our practices. We promise to provide regular updates to the IWBA membership about issues that come to our attention, what steps we have taken, and why. Look for our emails and for new posts on the WCA web site.

How Can You Help the WCA?
Our ability to advance our mutual cause depends largely on the strength and unity of our membership. In the political arena, our strength will be judged by the size of our treasury and the volume of our voice. If we are to have an influence between now and the November elections, we must raise funds and we must do so quickly.

Renew Your WCA Membership – Or Join the WCA.
I am attaching an application for WCA membership to this email. I hope that you will join (or in many cases re-join) the WCA. In the coming weeks, we will be revamping our web site to include current information and to list our Directors, Sponsors and Supporters. We hope that as many of you as possible will choose to become Directors and to participate in crafting and executing the WCA’s message and strategy as part of our Board.

Whether you join us as a Director or just a Member, we welcome your ideas, comments, and active participation. We believe that the WCA, while carrying out the function of a political action committee, should reflect the will of its members, who also comprise the membership of the IWBA.

Please take a few moments to complete the attached membership application and to return it with your donation or pledge.

Very truly yours,
Robert E. Grey

www.nyworkerscompensationalliance.org/WCA%20Memb%20App%202.pdf

Workers’ Compensation Alliance Board of Directors

Members of the Board of Directors are currently: Chair - Robert Grey Treasurer - Ronald Balter John Sciortino Erin McCabe Victor Pasternack Donald Shouldice Brian Mittman Alex Rosado Thomas Lambert Louis Dauerer James Buckley Robert Helbock Greg Connors

Contact the Alliance


Contacting the Workers' Compensation Alliance

Mailing Address

New York Workers' Compensation Alliance
c/o Robert Grey Esq.
WCA Chair
Grey & Grey, LLP
360 Main Street
Farmingdale, N.Y. 11735


Contacts

Chair - Robert E. Grey, c/o Grey & Grey, LLP 516-249-1342
Albany Representative - Richard Winsten, Esq, Meyer Suozzi English & Klein, PC

How You Can Help


How You Can Help the Workers' Compensation Alliance

Member Application

$ 250
Personal Info

In order to make an offline donation we ask that you please follow these instructions:

  1. Make a check payable to "NY Workers' Compensation"
  2. On the memo line of the check, please indicate that the donation is for "NY Workers' Compensation"
  3. Please mail your check to:

c/o Joseph Sensale
    The Chase Sensale Law Group, LLP
150 Motor Pkwy  #401 
Hauppauge, New York 11788

All contributions will be gratefully acknowledged and are tax deductible.

Donation Total: $250

Rocket Docket Regulations


Gov. Patterson Bombarded with Objections to "Rocket Docket" Regulations Proposed by New York Workers' Compensation Board

The new  "Rocket Docket" regulations proposed by the New York Workers' Compensation Board are being attacked by formal comments submitted by a diverse group of stakeholders across New York State.  Gov. Patterson's office has received a rash of phone calls and letters objecting to these well intentioned, but ill advised, regulations.  It will be interesting to see what, if anything, is left of these proposed regulations after the formal comment period ends on September 15th and the Governor's Office reviews all comments.  The final version may look much different than the original version proposed by the NY Workers' Compensation Board.

Below are just a few of the formal comments criticizing the Rocket Docket proposals.  First are the formal comments of the New York Workers' Compensation Alliance authored by Co-Chair John Sciortino of Rochester and supported by the New York Injured Workers' Bar Association (IWBA)President Barbara Levine of Long Island.  Second are objections from the  Medical Society of the State of New York authored by Philip Fontanetta, MD and Robert Goldberg, MD. Third are the objections of the Erie County Bar Association authored by Giles P. Manius, President of the Erie County Bar.  Fourth are objections from Louis M. Dauerer of Poughkeepsie, Past President of the NY Injured Workers' Bar Association.  Fifth are objections from Michael P. Daly, Esq., of Syracuse, the former partner of the Hon. Edward I. Pitts, author of the New York Workers' Compensation Handbook and past President of the NY Injured Workers' Bar Association (IWBA).  Finally are objections of Peter Hill, Esq. of Oneonta, a solo practitioner whose clients would be adversely impacted by these proposed regulations.

We are not aware of any stakeholders who appear at the Workers' Compensation Board, including employers and insurance carriers,  who support the current proposed regulations in their entirety.  Privately, workers' compensation law judges, who will be charged with implementing these regulations, admit that these regulations are counter-productive and will increase litigation and delay the timely resolution of claims.

We are hopeful that Governor Patterson and his staff will take a close look at all of these objections prior to implementing any of these regulations.   This is the WCA - Protecting the Rights of Injured Workers!

State Workers Furloughs


State Worker Furloughs

As part of the state budget mess the Workers' Compensation Board is going to be cancelling hearings statewide on Fridays effective May 21, 2010.  Already hearings are not scheduled for that date and for May 28, 2010.

The Workers' Compensation Board is scheduling hearings now for the week of May 31, 2010.  This means that it is likely that the Workers' Compensation Board will not be scheduling any hearings for June 4, 2010 as well.

I have been told that the Workers' Compensation Board argued that they should be exempt from the furlough plan because it is fully funded by assessments against insurance carriers.  The Workers' Compensation Board was unsuccessful with this argument with the Governor’s Office.

Please call 877-255-9417to contact the Governor, your State Senator and Assemblyperson to urge them to keep the Workers' Compensation Board running full tilt.

Upcoming Events


NY Commissioner of Labor M. Patricia Smith to Attend Workers' Compensation Alliance Event

M. Patricia Smith, Gov. Spitzer's new Commissioner of Labor, has graciously accepted the invitation of the New York Workers' Compensation Alliance (WCA) to attend our cocktail party this Friday, September 28th, 2007 at the Desmond Hotel in Albany.  The WCA event immediately precedes the New York Injured Workers Bar Association Seminar scheduled for the following day.

Commissioner Smith is making headlines in the sphere of workers' compensation by spearheading Governor Spitzer's efforts to stop employers from mislabeling "employees" as "independent contractors" -  a money saving scheme that has cost the state and honest employers alike millions of dollars in past years.  In addition, Gov. Spitzer has charged Commissioner Smith  with crafting "return to work" initiatives for injured workers. We look forward to hearing Commissioner Smith's comments on these important issues this Friday.

Any workers' compensation attorneys who have not yet signed up for this event can do so by contacting WCA Co- Chairs John Sciortino at 585-475-1100 or Troy Rosasco at 631-582-3700 x123.  Hope to see you there!

Workers Comp Claims


NY Workers' Compensation Alliance Remembers 9/11 Victims on Eighth Anniversary

 

On the eighth anniversary of the World Trade Center tragedy, all the attorneys of the New York Workers' Compensation Alliance  pay their respects to the victims and families impacted by 9/11.  We have all represented these victims before the New York State Workers' Compensation Board  these past eight years, often in a pro bono capacity, and we pledge to continue to serve future claimants in the inevitable serious claims yet to come. 

In addition, it is appropriate to recognize and applaud all the employees of the New York State Workers' Compensation Board, whose swift and compassionate actions to process claims following the tragedy helped thousands of families cope with their loss. No workers' compensation system in the United states, before or after 9/11, had a more challenging crisis.

With the willing cooperation of all stakeholders in the system, the employees of the WCB rose to the occasion to meet the needs of their fellow citizens.  In many respects, this was the NY Workers' Compensation Board's shining moment and the Board continues today to resolve 9/11 claims in a quick and compassionate manner.  

Please join the WCA today in taking a moment to remember all those impacted by 9/11 .   

Workers’ Compensation & AMA Guidelines


Where Are the New York Workers' Compensation Reform Law Medical Guidelines for Permanent Disabilities?

 It is now almost two years since former Governor Eliot Spitzer hastily pushed through his sweeping workers’ compensation reforms, including the capping of permanent partial disabilities, to the detriment of all New York workers. As part of the reform package, Spitzer gave the New York State Insurance Department (still under the leadership of Superintendent Eric Dinallo) until December 1, 2007 (over one year ago) to deliver guidelines in final draft form for consideration by the Workers’ Compensation Board.  So where are injured workers now regarding these guidelines? 

It has been estimated that to date, the State Insurance Department has spent close to $1,000,000 of taxpayer money on staff salaries,consultants and other costs attempting to develop the medical guidelines needed to evaluate permanent disabilities.   Originally, the NY State Insurance Department secretly tried bringing the discredited AMA Guidelines to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment to New York, at a consultant's cost of $175,000. 

 

Thankfully, the NY Workers’ Compensation Alliance (with the help of the eminent workers’ compensation expert, Professor John Burton, who called the AMA Guides “hokum”) squashed any possibility of AMA Guides implementation in New York.  Since the AMA Guides "fiasco" and their rejection in New York, it seems that Superintendent Dinallo and the Insurance Department have lost their “mojo” to create new medical guidelines for permanent disabilities. 

 

The Medical Guidelines Task Force, headed by Bruce Topman, seems to be working at  “glacial speed”. There are even rumblings from different corners of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board about the lack of progress and its impact on the agency. Remember, until the medical permanency guidelines are in place, neither the caps on permanent partial disabilities nor the injured worker “safety net” can take effect.

 

As of March 13, 2009, it will have been two years since the Spitzer workers' compensation reform bill became law. All injured workers with permanent disabilities from accidents after March 13, 2007 would normally be classified at the two year mark, since it is generally assumed they would have reached maximum medical improvement at that point in time. Failure to have medical permanency guidelines in place by March 13, 2009 will seriously hurt injured workers, leaving them in compensation “limbo”.  Surely, the NY Workers' Compensation Board itself cannot now, at this late date, implement its own workable guidelines, given that it has not been allocated either the time or money to effectively accomplish such a huge undertaking.

 

The Medical Guidelines Task Force must now act with all deliberate speed to insure that fair medical guidelines, including the “safety net” and linking impairments to vocational factors for benefit determination, are in place no later than Presidents Day 2009  In these dire economic times, the lack of the “safety net” contained in the reform law - impossible to implement without the guidelines - will cause workers throughout the state further impoverishment and seek the assistance of welfare relief. 

 

Enough dragging of bureaucratic feet to the detriment of injured workers!    Insurance Department Superintendent Eric Dinallo (or Governor Patterson) should order the Medical Guidelines Task Force to meet day and night to finish the job that should have been completed over one year ago.  Failure to do so would be a colossal waste of taxpayer money, while neglecting the needs of injured workers. 

 

The New York Workers' Compensation Alliance stands ready to assist in the creation and implementation of a just and appropriate set of medical guidelines - one that will effectively guide the medical community without further detracting from the needs and interests of injured workers.

Lobbying


Where Are the New York Workers' Compensation Reform Law Medical Guidelines for Permanent Disabilities?

 It is now almost two years since former Governor Eliot Spitzer hastily pushed through his sweeping workers’ compensation reforms, including the capping of permanent partial disabilities, to the detriment of all New York workers. As part of the reform package, Spitzer gave the New York State Insurance Department (still under the leadership of Superintendent Eric Dinallo) until December 1, 2007 (over one year ago) to deliver guidelines in final draft form for consideration by the Workers’ Compensation Board.  So where are injured workers now regarding these guidelines? 

It has been estimated that to date, the State Insurance Department has spent close to $1,000,000 of taxpayer money on staff salaries,consultants and other costs attempting to develop the medical guidelines needed to evaluate permanent disabilities.   Originally, the NY State Insurance Department secretly tried bringing the discredited AMA Guidelines to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment to New York, at a consultant's cost of $175,000. 

 

Thankfully, the NY Workers’ Compensation Alliance (with the help of the eminent workers’ compensation expert, Professor John Burton, who called the AMA Guides “hokum”) squashed any possibility of AMA Guides implementation in New York.  Since the AMA Guides "fiasco" and their rejection in New York, it seems that Superintendent Dinallo and the Insurance Department have lost their “mojo” to create new medical guidelines for permanent disabilities. 

 

The Medical Guidelines Task Force, headed by Bruce Topman, seems to be working at  “glacial speed”. There are even rumblings from different corners of the New York Workers’ Compensation Board about the lack of progress and its impact on the agency. Remember, until the medical permanency guidelines are in place, neither the caps on permanent partial disabilities nor the injured worker “safety net” can take effect.

 

As of March 13, 2009, it will have been two years since the Spitzer workers' compensation reform bill became law. All injured workers with permanent disabilities from accidents after March 13, 2007 would normally be classified at the two year mark, since it is generally assumed they would have reached maximum medical improvement at that point in time. Failure to have medical permanency guidelines in place by March 13, 2009 will seriously hurt injured workers, leaving them in compensation “limbo”.  Surely, the NY Workers' Compensation Board itself cannot now, at this late date, implement its own workable guidelines, given that it has not been allocated either the time or money to effectively accomplish such a huge undertaking.

 

The Medical Guidelines Task Force must now act with all deliberate speed to insure that fair medical guidelines, including the “safety net” and linking impairments to vocational factors for benefit determination, are in place no later than Presidents Day 2009  In these dire economic times, the lack of the “safety net” contained in the reform law - impossible to implement without the guidelines - will cause workers throughout the state further impoverishment and seek the assistance of welfare relief. 

 

Enough dragging of bureaucratic feet to the detriment of injured workers!    Insurance Department Superintendent Eric Dinallo (or Governor Patterson) should order the Medical Guidelines Task Force to meet day and night to finish the job that should have been completed over one year ago.  Failure to do so would be a colossal waste of taxpayer money, while neglecting the needs of injured workers. 

 

The New York Workers' Compensation Alliance stands ready to assist in the creation and implementation of a just and appropriate set of medical guidelines - one that will effectively guide the medical community without further detracting from the needs and interests of injured workers.

Alliance Friends


NY Commissioner of Labor M. Patricia Smith to Attend Workers' Compensation Alliance Event

M. Patricia Smith, Gov. Spitzer's new Commissioner of Labor, has graciously accepted the invitation of the New York Workers' Compensation Alliance (WCA) to attend our cocktail party this Friday, September 28th, 2007 at the Desmond Hotel in Albany.  The WCA event immediately precedes the New York Injured Workers Bar Association Seminar scheduled for the following day.

Commissioner Smith is making headlines in the sphere of workers' compensation by spearheading Governor Spitzer's efforts to stop employers from mislabeling "employees" as "independent contractors" -  a money saving scheme that has cost the state and honest employers alike millions of dollars in past years.  In addition, Gov. Spitzer has charged Commissioner Smith  with crafting "return to work" initiatives for injured workers. We look forward to hearing Commissioner Smith's comments on these important issues this Friday.

Any workers' compensation attorneys who have not yet signed up for this event can do so by contacting WCA Co- Chairs John Sciortino at 585-475-1100 or Troy Rosasco at 631-582-3700 x123.  Hope to see you there!

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