Hiring two specialists in the State Industrial Commission to help reduce the paperwork involved with workers' compensation claims is the first recommendation of an ad hoc committee of the Worker's Compensation Advisory Council.

The two specialists would eliminate the need to hire additional higher-salaried administrative law judges due to the rising number of cases, said Lawrence Mills, ad hoc committee chairman.The recommendation came during an advisory council meeting when Mills gave an update of the committee's work. The commission formed the group several weeks ago to examine ways of reducing medical costs as they relate to workers' compensation.

Mills said the group will submit a report next April. In the seven meetings held so far the group has determined the increasing amount of paperwork is a major factor in the rising cost of medical services.

According to information provided to council members, the commission has one workers' compensation specialist who resolves between 500 and 600 disputes informally each year. Calls for information are answered by other staff members in the Industrial Accidents and Legal divisions as adequately as possible given their workloads.

One of the specialists recommended for hiring would be located in southern Utah, possibly St. George, to work with employers, employees, insurance carriers and medical providers to provide information on workers' compensation and resolve disputes in the payment of medical bills and compensation.

The other person (with a medical background) would work in the commission office in Salt Lake City to provide information and consult with insurance carriers and medical providers in establishing a standard for review of a case before authorization for treatment is approved.

Mills said the indirect savings of hiring these two people are difficult to determine, but injured workers could get their bills paid without frustration, anxiety and often loss of good credit due to collection efforts by medical care providers.

"The public would benefit by having more ready access to information regarding workers' compensation and in reducing the need to use other social service resources," Mills' handout said.