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May 3, 2000

June hearings on proposed changes to vocational rehabilitation

TUMWATER - The Department of Labor & Industries will hold public hearings June 7, 13 and 14 to solicit comments on a proposal that would change the way it purchases vocational services for injured workers.

The proposal incorporates recommendations made in a 1999 performance audit by the Joint Legislative Audit and Review Committee to "move toward higher standards of private vocational rehabilitation providers." A vocational purchasing practices study by William M. Mercer, Inc. recommended discontinuing contracting with private vocational providers and placing the contract requirements in Washington Administrative Code (WAC).

The proposed changes would end contracting services with vocational providers. The new process would require providers to submit a provider application and show that they meet minimum qualifications.

The new qualification requirements would bring vocational services for Washington workers in line with industry best practices. Providers would need to be certified through one of three national certification programs. They would have four years to meet the new requirements.

The new rules would place service requirements into WAC rather than individual contracts. They also would refine and clarify how providers deliver and report on services, how audits are conducted and how providers bill the department.

The following hearings are scheduled at L&I service locations:

June 7, 2000
1:30-4:30 p.m.
Tumwater
7273 Linderson Way SW
June 13, 2000
9-12 p.m.
Spokane
901 N Monroe St. Suite 100
June 14, 2000
1:30-4:30 p.m.
Everett
729 100th Street SE

Written comments may be submitted through June 21 to:

Blake Maresh, Senior Health Policy Analyst
Health Services Analysis
PO Box 44322
Olympia, WA 98504-4322
Fax: 360-902-4249

For additional information about the proposals, contact Linda Alguire at 360-902-6799.

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