Today is the effective date for all Florida carriers, self insureds and TPA’s to comply with the Department of Education’s (DOE) administrative rules to begin electronic filling of all case management and rehabilitation provider invoices. The DOE is the state agency responsible for Florida’s Bureau of Rehabilitation and Reemployment Services (BRRS). While the rule became effective 18 months ago, it still has some caught off guard.  Some carriers are still struggling to establish internal processes. First, they have to designate someone in their company to be the contact person to retrieve notification of electronically filed invoices for case management and rehabilitation services.  Then that individual must find a way to send it to the claim processor to pay the bill off the claim file and once payment is completed, they must complete the electronic filing process to the state.  More confusing still are the dozens of independent case managers and vocational rehab specialists that know nothing about the process of how to enter a bill in the web portal.  They will continue mailing in their bills but this could create a huge problem.  Add to that the administrative burden for small businesses and independent providers to comply with the electronic filing rules and enter every service line by line into a web portal.

The rule was challenged by members of the Florida Chapter of IARP (International Association of Rehabilitation Professionals).  Unfortunately, the rule had already passed.  Even though the Small Business Regulatory Advisory Council tried to reach out to the BRRS Bureau Chief, Reggie Watkins, on 7/27/2010, to change the requirements, apparently there has been no response.

Many question the need for such an arduous process for the DOE to collect data electronically that puts great economic stress on small independent case managers and vocational professionals. Yet, the obvious reason is to get on the penalty assessment bandwagon.  Fortunately for the carriers, the BRRS does not yet have penalty assessment authority under the Florida statute like the Florida Department of Financial Services. But not to worry, the DOE attorneys have been hard at work drafting their penalty language for a proposed amendment to the Florida statute under 440.425 to assess late payment and filing fees.

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s article on the adjuster’s requirement of the on-line submission of the DWC-22 Reemployment Status Report.