Following a Senate inquiry to the practices and programs administered by the Bureau of Rehabilitation and Reemployment Services (BRRS) under the Department of Education (DOE), Florida passed Senate Bill 2150, rewriting the worker’s compensation statute pertaining to reemployment services of injured workers.  Florida Statute Section 440.491 changes will become effective July 1, 2011.

The most dramatic change is that the BRRS no longer has authority or oversight of vocational professionals or the ability to promulgate rules or forms for carriers or rehabilitation providers.  All authority has been transferred to the Division of Financial Services (DFS).

In a BRRS Bulletin Alert issued June 1, 2011 to carriers, self-insured, TPA’s and QRP’s, Bureau Chief, Reggie Watkins appears to warn carriers that the deregulation is harmful to carriers because the Senate Bill removed the state’s regulatory authority over “improper practices” performed by rehabilitation providers.  In fact, the statutory revisions requires all rehabilitation providers to be licensed by one of the nationally recognized credentialing entities; CRRN, CRC, CDMS, CCM, CVE or COHN.  These organizations are much more effective in monitoring the activities of the vocational community.  They require extensive continuing educational requirements, provide ethical practice guidelines and specify activities that would disqualify an individual’s certification by the credentialing entity.

Other major changes include:

– Carriers will no longer receive vocational invoices through the BRRS web portal as it will officially be shut down as of June 3, 2011.

– Carriers will no longer report their voluntary service activity to the department, or wages of the employee. This would include no longer having to report, or electronically report, DWC-21’s and DWC-22’s to the department.

– DWC-22 Reemployment Status Reviews forms will be revised by rule by the Department of Financial Services and a copy will be required to go to the injured worker.

– Training and Education services available through BRRS will be significantly reduced due to budget and personnel cuts and carriers will need to utilize private vocational services to obtain reemployment objectives

– Notification of training and education benefits to injured workers can be communicated in any format desired by the carrier