September 28, 2018

$2.1M grant for CT labor-services pilot

Connecticut says it's using a $2.1 million federal grant to explore with its public-private partners ways to retain and return to the job ill or injured workers -- potential alternatives to long-term disability that could become a national model, authorities say.

The state Labor Department says the money from the U.S. Labor Department will fund an 18-month pilot led by the Retaining Employment and Talent After Injury/Illness Network-Connecticut (RETAIN-CT) partnership. UConn Health, Hartford Financial Services Inc. and Capital Workforce Partners are collaborators.

Also participating are the state Department of Rehabilitation Services; the state Department of Public Health (DPH); the Connecticut Employment and Training Commission, the state Workers' Compensation Commission; and the Connecticut Business Leadership Network.

The grant, which focuses on providing more proactive "stay-at-work/return-to-work" services, will test the impact of early intervention as an alternative to long-term disability, officials said.

"Injury or illness shouldn't mean unemployment, and this major federal grant will ensure that Connecticut workers have the support and resources they need to stay on the job safely, enabling them to support their family and continue to contribute to our economy," Connecticut senators Richard Blumenthal and Chris Murphy, and Congressman John Larson said in a joint statement. "Connecticut is once again serving as a model for the nation – building unique partnerships and collaborations that can be replicated nationwide."

Under the pilot, officials say healthcare providers will ensure best medical practices and will be more involved and supported in return-to-work planning efforts. Insurance case managers will act as health-service coordinators and provide proactive lost time tracking and employer coordination in the first few weeks of a claim.

In addition, return-to-work coordinators will provide more individualized planning and resource coordination and assistance to employers as to job accommodations or necessary modifications to put injured-ill workers out of work more than 30 days back on the job.

"When a workplace injury or illness takes someone out of the workforce, it can have devastating effects for both the individual worker and their family," said DPH Commissioner Dr. Raul Pino. "Proactive measures that keep these individuals at work, or return them to regular work as quickly as possible, is of vital importance in restoring their full physical and financial health."

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