As my phone notes grow exponentially with my 6 year old daughter's Christmas Wish List, I started thinking about what I would like on my wish list. Let's hope the legislators are reading our blog!
Wish #1: Adopt Rule 20 from West Virginia in Pennsylvania.
Wouldn't it be nice to limit the time a claimant receives narcotics? Or limit the number of diagnostic studies that claimant can have for the same body part?
West Virginia's treatment guidelines provide limitations on treatment that protect employers and carriers from paying for unnecessary treatment and also protect claimants from potential addictions by limiting narcotics from the beginning of the claim.
Wish #2: The Elimination of Compound Creams as Treatment for Work-Related Injuries
The efficacy of this expensive treatment is questioned by many health professionals. Moreover, the costs are so high that bills for this treatment can eliminate the potential to settle a claim for a reasonable amount.
Wish #3: Penalties Assessable Against Claimants
While employers and carriers can face penalties for violation of the Pennsylvania Workers' Compensation Act, there is no similar punishment available to unscrupulous claimants or claimants' attorneys. While employers and carriers can be held to strict time frames or face penalties, a claimant may delay a case by failing to appear for an IME or vocational evaluation without penalty. Claimants can also miss doctor appointments and physical therapy delaying their recovery with employer's only recourse being to litigate a forfeiture petition. It would be nice to have a level playing field where both parties faced similar consequences.
Wish #4: The Elimination of Irrelevant Evidence in Labor Market Survey Cases
A labor market survey is supposed to determine whether work is generally available. It is not designed to locate a specific job for a specific claimant. Since that is the case, why the heck is it relevant that the claimant applied for and didn't get a particular job? We all remember the good old days of Kachinski (or rather bad old days) where claimants became experts on how NOT to get a job. Why on earth would we go back to that standard?
Wish #5: Automatic Suspension of Benefits When a Claimant Has Been Released to Return to Work Without Restrictions
Our out of state clients think we are crazy when we tell them that a release to return to work full duty is meaningless without an actual job offer. It is difficult to understand why a claimant who has been released from care and to work full duty would have a right to ongoing benefits. But, as PA is a wage loss state, this is the case. We have to prove that a claimant's wage loss is no longer related to the work injury which cannot be done with a physician's release alone.
This is obviously just the start of my list. Much like my daughter, I see endless possibilities for Santa to put under the tree! What wishes do you have for changes to the PA comp system? Let us know by emailing email@example.com.