When Bill Molmen retired at the end of June, the workers’ compensation and benefit integration world lost one of its greatest visionaries.
Before starting the Integrated Benefits Institute (IBI) with president Tom Parry, he worked for the California Workers’ Compensation Institute and the American Insurance Association. That’s not a resume you would expect from a Berkeley law school grad, but this is part of what makes Bill unique and wonderful.
A small portion of his job included handling media calls, including mine when I was the lead reporter of BNA’s Workers’ Compensation Report and then a contributing writer for Business & Health and other publications. We had incredible discussions about the potential of integrating workers’ compensation with long-term and short-term disability, health care and other programs. Bill’s sharp intelligence, dry Midwestern wit and gut honesty made him one of my favorite colleagues and a trusted friend. He converted me to embrace the concepts around absence management and later, total health and productivity.
Thanks to his work with Tom, a friend since the their Berkeley days in 1966, we now understand the role of employee benefits and workers’ compensation as more than separate programs to address different needs.
Tom and Bill sewed the pieces together, showing us how employee programs and insurance, working in tandem, encourage total employee health and boost productivity. Their vision went beyond cost savings in silos. Unfortunately, their vision remains logistically impossible for most organizations. Just as we were getting our arms around absence management, Bill and Tom were already going the next level to pre-absenteeism.
Says Parry, “It has been my good fortune and pleasure to build the Integrated Benefits Institute over the past 17 years in partnership with Bill Molmen,” said Parry. “Bill is not only a consummate professional but has been my closest friend for over 40 years. We all will miss Bill’s contributions to the Institute and to the broader discussions of health and productivity in the U.S.”
Chuck Reynolds of Benfield offers, “Bill (along with Tom) built an important and sustainable organization around an essential mission—to promote understanding and evidence around the connection between the health and productivity of human capital.
“Bill did it right, resisting what I’m sure were numerous temptations along the way to chase quick cash at the risk of future credibility and clout of IBI as a leader. As a result, IBI became, is, and has the platform to remain an important and credible voice of reason with respect the performance of people within organizations, and the role of health as a factor. Thank you Bill, for your leadership!”
“Bill enjoys Kabuki theater. It was great preparation for the ‘kabuki dance’ of workers’ compensation ‘reform’ in California prior to The Governator.”
– Eric Oxfeld
Others agree. Chris McSwain of Walmart says, “Bill’s commitment and leadership have been a cornerstone of IBI.
“His efforts through the years have influenced everyone to reach for our personal best. It remains my honor to have worked with Bill in various roles supporting IBI. He taught me many things and I count myself as one of the many lives Bill has helped change in his service to IBI.”
Mary Tavarozzi of Towers Watson offered, “It has been an honor and privilege to serve alongside Bill Molmen on the Integrated Benefits Institute Board of Directors. Bill has always brought passion and dedication to the Institute’s mission and the vision of improved employee health and productivity. I will miss Bill’s counsel and wisdom.”
While Bill has not been directly active in workers’ compensation for some time now, his colleagues from CompLand also remember him fondly.
“Bill Molmen is a titan in workers’ compensation,” said Eric Oxfeld, a workers’ compensation public policy expert recalled. “Bill enjoys Kabuki theater. “It was great preparation for the ‘kabuki dance’ of workers’ compensation ‘reform’ in California prior to The Governator.”
Deborah J. Nosowsky, who is retired from Fireman’s Fund, said that there is “hardly anyone in the workers’ compensation/industrial injury world more intelligent, thoughtful, engaged, and innovative than Bill Molmen.
“Bill cared about workers and their employers. He cared about public policy. And he was always guided by the data to support change. He was a top-notch lawyer. I was fortunate to have worked with him during his days at AIA and at CWCI, to have learned so much from him. His success, and Tom Parry’s in creating the Integrated Benefits Institute, was not surprising. He will be missed, terribly.”
I would also offer that Bill is honest, personable and hilarious! I met Bill in person when Roger Thompson, now retired from Travelers Insurance, introduced us at an industry conference. Bill, who is at least six feet tall, looked down at me and said, “You’re short!” I looked back at him and said, “You’re old!” Working with Bill was just fun.
Michael McClain, who now holds Bill’s former position as the general counsel of the California Workers’ Compensation Institute, can also tell stories about Bill.
“Well, there was time when Bill, at a little after midnight while dining on Pete’s Pizza of Sacramento, suggested that we eliminate mandatory vocational rehabilitation altogether.
“There were three of us and three of them and nobody said, ‘That’s the dumbest idea I’ve ever heard,’ or ‘Willie Brown would kill that faster than the chef at Fat’s stepping on a cockroach,’ which means the same thing.
“There it was. It was a secret between us and them – six of us – while we put this modest proposal out for the smell test. It lived from 3 to 6 a.m. (until) various legislators began receiving faxes from every vocational rehabilitation association in California and the applicant’s attorneys. The results of the smell test were never obtained. It was an excellent suggestion but well before its time. In the 1990s, it was repealed.”
We all wish you what you deserve – the very best!