HAZLETON, PA (February 5, 2018) – Doctors who treat injured workers in Pennsylvania will face severe restrictions on their ability to do their job if state legislators approve proposed changes to Pennsylvania’s 103-year-old workers’ compensation system, according to Hazleton workplace injury attorney Edward P. McNelis.
“This proposal punishes injured workers, plain and simple,” attorney McNelis said. “When someone gets hurt at work, their doctor should be able to prescribe the necessary treatment. That’s why doctors go to medical school. Now, the state wants to micro-manage doctors and put insurance companies in charge. That’s not just wrong. That’s dangerous. Injured workers’ lives are at stake here.”
McNelis was talking about pending legislation before the Pennsylvania House of Representatives. In October, the state Senate approved S.B. 936, which may soon be voted on by the state House. If approved and signed into law by Governor Tom Wolf, S.B. 936 would place restrictions on which drugs doctors could prescribe to injured workers.
In particular, S.B. 936 would require the state Department of Labor to create a drug formulary for workers’ compensation cases. Under the state proposal, a formulary would be created outlining exactly which drugs, as well as dosage amounts, could be prescribed to injured workers. The state proposal would also give insurance companies de facto veto power over medical treatments by changing the rules for Utilization Review Organization (URO) to give oversight to a national organization controlled by the insurance industry.
“Treatment and medication should be prescribed by a patient's treating doctor - not a panel or organization in a faraway place, with no knowledge or information about the worker's actual condition,” wrote Frank Synder, Secretary-Treasurer of the PA AFL-CIO in a Dec. 6 editorial at Pennlive.com.
McNelis agreed. “Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation system has made a dramatic difference in the lives of injured workers for more than a century. Now, some politicians want to tear down this system so insurance companies can make more money. That’s not right. That’s why residents need to contact their state Representative and urge them to vote no on S.B. 936. The health and welfare of all workers statewide is on the line.”