In 2012, the General Assembly proposed legislation, H.B. 517, in an effort to make changes to the current workers’ compensation system. One such change was to limit an injured worker’s choice of physician. The proposed legislation would have added a provision to O.R.C. 4121.44, which specifically read as follows
The administrator may limit freedom of choice of health care provider or supplier by requiring, beginning the forty-sixth day after the date of injury or the forty-sixth day after the beginning date for treatment for the occupational disease, that claimants pay an appropriate out-of-plan copayment for selecting a medical provider not within the provider panel of a health care partnership program vendor as provided for in this section. (proposed 4121.44(G)).
What this means, is that while an injured worker would have been free to treat with any provider for the first 45 days after an injury, thereafter the injured worker would have been limited to choosing a provider from within the Managed Care Organization’s panel of select doctors. The proposal would have allowed Managed Care Organizations to decide which providers were included or excluded from the panel. The purpose of this proposal was to limit an injured worker’s options in providers and to allow the Managed Care Organizations the ability to weed out certain physicians, perhaps the one’s perceived to be more injured worker friendly.
How does this tie into the upcoming 2014 Governor’s race? While the proposed bill was never passed, it has been made clear that if Governor Kasich is re-elected in 2014, a similar, if not identical, bill will be proposed in 2015, with the full support and backing of the Governor. We can NOT allow this to happen! With so many providers already opting out of the workers’ compensation system, injured workers’ already struggle to find an independent physician to treat their work related injuries. The proposal would make it impossible for an injured worker to find an impartial provider to treat him/her for the work related injuries sustained.
The 2014 Governor’s race will be heated, there is no doubt about that. When weighing your options and deciding who will get your vote as Ohio’s next Governor, please keep in mind what is at stake. In a system that is already so clearly employer friendly do we want to open the door for even more injured workers’ rights to be taken away?