State Officials Examine Workers’ Compensation System
Some state officials and doctors are scrutinizing reforms to the state workers' compensation insurance system, saying that penalties for delaying treatment requests are needed, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A series of reforms in 2003 and 2004 imposed new rules and review processes that limited the type of treatment that doctors could provide through workers' compensation.
However, the system does not have any penalties if treatment requests are delayed. Many patients have complained that their requests are stuck in the new review process, preventing doctors from providing the necessary care.
Anne Searcy, medical director for the Division of Workers' Compensation, said that about 5% of treatment requests might be getting stuck in the review processes.
State officials are planning to enforce new rules to penalize abuse of the review process, but insurers and employers oppose the penalties, which they believe might be too strict.
Doctors say that that insurers and employers are taking advantage of the new evaluation process and the absence of penalties to prevent fulfilling patients' requests for treatment.
Since the reforms were enacted, workers' compensation claims have decreased by 46% and employers' workers' compensation insurance costs have decreased by $14 billion (Abate, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/22).