With the ink barely dry on Senate Bill 5, Kasich will now be turning his attention to further gutting the rights of working men and women and lining the pockets of insurance companies. The steamroller towards privatization of the workers’ compensation system in Ohio continues to roll. The Dayton Business Journal describes this priority and initiative for the Governor and Lieutenant Governor citing workers’ compensation reform as the next major project on the Kasich agenda.
Insurance companies will be the winners in any privatization attempts just as the Managed Care Organizations have already profited from the changes in workers’ compensation in Ohio at the injured workers’ expense. The Ohio Bureau of Workers compensation used to medically manage claims through the state agency and authorize or deny treatment without private for-profit entities making those decisions. Now, thanks to the Managed Care Organizations, extensive treatment for injured workers is denied under the guise of not being reasonable and necessary. Case managers and reviewers overrule the Doctors and decide the appropriate treatment without ever examining or speaking to the injured workers. The Managed Care system, with its enormous paperwork and red tape, is the primary reason why most family practice Doctors have left the workers compensation system in Ohio.
Ohio’s public system is rooted in the Ohio Constitution and while the entire system could not be privatized without amending the Constitution, certainly the insurance companies could play a for-profit role just as the Managed Care Organizations do under the current system. A recent study done by the Institute for Work & Health compared a private workers compensation insurance system to a public system and found that the services were better and the costs were lower in the public system. Additionally, there is no evidence that Ohio’s workers compensation costs are out of line with other states. Rather, Ohio is in the middle of the pack.
The only winners with privatization will be the insurance companies. The injured workers will suffer once again while we put profit before people!