Proposed changes to Pennsylvania's 103-year-old workers' compensation system would punish injured workers and give excessive control to insurance companies focused on denying compensation for injured workers, according to Philadelphia workers' compensation attorney Richard A. Jaffe.
"These proposed changes would be catastrophic to injured workers if they become law," Jaffe said. "Some lawmakers want people to believe this proposal would benefit the public, but it's nothing more than a cynical attempt to punish injured people and line the pockets of insurance companies."
The Pennsylvania House of Representatives is currently considering S.B. 936, which was approved by the state Senate in October, according to Philly.com. If approved by the House and signed into law by Gov. Tom Wolf, S.B. 936 would amend the state's workers' compensation law, and require the state Department of Labor to designate a drug formulary for work-related injuries. The bill was already voted down by the House last month, 98-98, but is up for reconsideration.
The state-appointed formulary would have the power to veto medical treatments recommended by doctors if the formulary believes a recommended treatment is not necessary. S.B. 936 also calls for the creation of a Utilization Review Organization (URO) funded by insurance companies and comprised mainly of insurance company representatives to review medical treatments.
"Drug formularies are driven by cost more than any other factor," wrote Frank Synder, Secretary-Treasurer of the PA AFL-CIO in an editorial published Dec. 6 by Pennlive.com.
Jaffe agrees. "Insurance companies will be able to overrule a physician's recommendations," Jaffe said. "That's not the way medical care should be administered. Doctors know what's best for a patient. And they should be able to do their work without fear of being overruled by insurance companies."
Jaffe and others opposed to S.B. 936 urge residents to contact their state Representative and tell their representative to vote "NO" on S.B. 936. "The hard-working people of Pennsylvania deserve to be fairly compensated when they're hurt at work, plain and simple," Jaffe said.