There is nothing more egregious or repugnant to basic constitutional rights than a governmental agency forcing citizens to undergo treatment with a physician they do not choose. Unfortunately, recently Barbara Sears (R-46) introduced into the Ohio House of Representatives a bill that would do just that in the Ohio Workers’ Compensation system.
The passage of House bill 518 would take away an injured worker’s right to free choice of physician by requiring claimants to pick from a panel of physicians picked by the managed care organization, if still treating 45 days after the date of injury. Most likely, this “panel” would consist of occupational care physicians who are traditionally more concerned with the welfare of the employer rather than the patient.
Once an injured worker “chooses” an attending physician from this panel, the claimant would be required to submit to the treatment this physician proposes. Failure to submit to such treatment would suspend compensation the injured worker may be receiving.
This country has a long history of placing legal safeguards to protect people from being forced to undergo treatment against their will. Forced treatment violates our most basic personal freedom.
Yet Representative Sears and BWC Administrator Buehrer see it fit to require injured workers to undergo treatment they may not agree with, or be comfortable with. Apparently, Ms Sears believes that forcing treatment on injured workers gets claimants back to work more quickly.
After years of this firm representing injured workers, it is our experience that that one of the biggest frustrations for our clients is the failure of the system to provide prompt, high-quality treatment after an injury. Such delays prevent their ability to get better and return to work. Forcing injured workers to undergo treatment with physicians they do not choose is the opposite of what our clients want, or deserve, and would only serve to lengthen their disability.
If Representative Sears and Administrator Buehrer believe injured workers should be back to work sooner, there are other ways to get this accomplished, such as providing incentives for employers to offer light duty positions to their injured workers. Clearly, Representative Sears and Administrator Buehrer should consider such proposals to reduce disability, rather than forcing treatment on those injured due to no fault of their own.