The final NYS budget passed both houses late last Sunday night. Despite no significant workers’ compensation reforms being included in the original proposed budget bills, there were many last minute negotiations regarding worker’s compensation reform that we followed closely.
Of specific concern was PPO language that would create a 120 day opt-out and any general provisions that would have limited patient access to the provider of their choice. Working with the Council, our lobbyists shared our concerns with key legislators as to the negative impact this would have on worker’s compensation patients. We are happy to report that this language was not included in the final budget.
As workers compensation reform was on the table, we made a concerted push to ensure that the reforms included IME reform. We have discussed this over the years as an item for the Joint Legislative Task Force with the Council. The enacted legislation calls for the creation of an IME Advisory Committee to “conduct a thorough study of the utilization of independent medical examinations” with a goal of “regulatory and statutory proposals” that will consider a new method of assigning these independent medical examinations.
This advisory committee will be composed of representatives from organized labor, business, carriers, self-insured employers, medical providers and other stakeholders and experts as the chair deems fit to include. We have already talked to the chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board about this advisory committee, and the chair assured us that he will seek our active engagement in this process. We will keep you updated on the status of the advisory committee and our role in the process.
The final enacted workers’ compensation reforms also included adoption of impairment guidelines and as well as performance standards for insurance carriers. In what we are viewing as a very positive development, the final reforms also included development of a drug formulary. It is our hope that the adoption of a drug formulary will lead to less opioid abuse and over prescription and encourage a return to conservative proven care such as chiropractic.
We waited to send this update on workers’ compensation because on Tuesday, April 11, 2017, our Workers’ Compensation committee, in conjunction with the Council’s committee, met with the chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board. The meeting was very productive.
This was a follow up to our meeting in the fall where we discussed several issues facing our members that led to the creation of the Workers’ Compensation response form that both Associations asked our members to use in order for us to track concerns and issues. We presented to the chair the information we gathered and the issues we are seeing, and he promised to review those issues and address training and carrier issues that he is empowered to address. We will be following up with him and scheduling another meeting in the near future. Also, as noted above, he indicated a strong desire to have chiropractic actively involved and engaged in the IME reform initiatives.
While issues remain with workers’ compensation, we hope that the just enacted reforms will help to alleviate some of the problems and that our ongoing dialogue and engagement with the chair of the Workers’ Compensation Board will lead to some relief for our members.