Monday, July 2, 2012

I Don't Believe in Miracles

The California Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) no longer has a lien problem, at least that is how I interpreted the Administrative Director's (AD) announcement at the California Applicant Attorneys Association Summer Conference in San Francisco on Friday.

Just two weeks ago Department of Industrial Relations Director (DIR), Christine Baker, told an audience at the annual meeting of the Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau in Napa, CA, that there was a backlog of 800,000 liens waiting to be scanned into the Electronic Adjudication Management System (EAMS).

“When you think of the 500,000 liens coming into our offices (annually), plus 800,000 in boxes, plus the litigation over all that, that alone is a huge amount of money,” Baker said.

AD Rosa Moran said some liens at the DWC's Oakland headquarters still need to be entered into EAMS, but the district offices are "caught up" and that "we've fixed that problem."

Moran credited the hard work of the college students and staff who run the DWC's "lien lab" for processing this paperwork and bringing the backlog down.

I have to admit to skepticism.

According to the California Committee on Health, Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) "Lien Report" issued in January of 2011: “Electronically filed liens require no clerical time at the District Office, but the office cannot keep up with the paper-filed liens. Processing paper liens into EAMS requires an estimated ten minutes of staff time per document.”

If OCR scanning every lien takes 600 seconds (10 minutes) from start to finish, including time to review the OCR data and complete the intake process, that is 480,000,000 seconds. There are 86,400 seconds in one 24-hour day, therefore if one scanner ran 24x7 and never stopped it would take that scanner 5,555.56 days to complete the entire backlog.

Now use your favorite math equation to divide 5,555.56 24-hour work days into the time period in which the DWC claims to have eliminated the backlog.

From the date of Baker's statement at the WCIRB meeting to the date of Moran's announcement at CAAA is 15 days.

If Moran's statement is correct, the DWC eliminated the backlog in 15 days, therefore 5,555.56/15 = 370 OCR scanners running 24x7, staffed by DWC personnel 24x7, to eliminate the OCR backlog.

A little bird told me that in fact the directive is that all liens have to be scanned by the 13th of July; that the process is that the 425 boxes of liens have been shipped to the non-back logged boards and EVERY employee has a box to get resolved. Each lien is to be checked against the case official address record. If the lien claim is not on the record, the the lien is scanned into EAMS. If the lien is already of record (meaning on the official address record), the lien is thrown away.

Let's assume then that half of all of the liens in those 425 boxes are already on the official address record, and that the time period is actually 28 days (15 days from Baker's statement at WCIRB to July 13) - that means that 2,777.78/28 = 99.21 days of college students and DWC staff working 24 hours a day to eliminate the entire backlog.

If the work day is only 8 hours, then 99.21 needs to be multiplied by 3 - or a total of 297.63 days.

And that doesn't include clerk time necessary to discriminate between liens that are on the official address record versus those that are not.

And that doesn't count the estimated 500,000 liens coming into the system annually.

There may be some different data concerning the quantity of liens, the amount of people working the problem or the amount of scanning equipment the DWC has available, but no matter how one tweaks the math I just can't make these numbers reconcile.

Basically, I don't believe the administration.

Maybe miracles do happen. I just don't believe in them.

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