Through the efforts of concerned citizens, and attorney groups united to support injured people, such as the Pennsylvania Association for Justice, there has been no legislation really harmful to the injured workers in Pennsylvania passed since 1996. Unfortunately, it appears there is now a new threat on the horizon, and we call on every injured person, and anyone who cares about the injured worker in PA, to make their concerns known to their State Representatives and State Senators.
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce has a new “wish list” for the reform of the workers’ compensation system in PA. The changes desired by the Chamber primarily impact the medical providers, rather than the injured workers directly. Obviously, however, this will impact the injured worker by narrowing the treatment options open to injured workers in Pennsylvania, and generally add another layer of difficulty to what is already a minefield for those unfamiliar with the process.
One of the primary changes that the PA Chamber of Commerce would have made is to increase the time an injured worker in PA is required to treat with a company “doctor” from 90 days to 180 days. Any injured worker who has experienced substandard medical care in those first 90 days, or the difficulties of having a medical provider more concerned with a return to work than a cure, understands the significance of this expansion. No mention was made by the Chamber of the developing practice we are seeing where the injured worker is stuck with a nurse practitioner for that captive period, effectively denying the injured worker from even being evaluated by a medical doctor.
Other changes the Chamber supports include preventing the injured worker from using a pharmacy of his or her choice, and having to rely on a claims adjuster to get the medication (a scary proposition when we consider how frequently the claims adjusters cannot even process checks in a regular fashion); severely limiting the type and duration of medical treatment based on a diagnosis made by the insurance company; reducing what the doctor can get paid for treating an injured worker impacting access to necessary care; and, finally, having a treating doctor’s care reviewed by a nurse with no right to appeal that review to a Workers’ Compensation Judge.
We, of course, will be fighting this battle in Harrisburg, along with the Pennsylvania Association for Justice. But, we cannot win this alone. We need you to help us protect the injured worker in PA. Please take a few minutes to make your State Representatives and State Senators aware that you, as a voter, care about the injured worker in Pennsylvania, and that you are against the changes being proposed by the Chamber of Commerce.