Oklahoma governor signs comp reform legislation
Oklahoma's getting a new medical fee schedule to help reduce costs in its workers' comp system. That's one of the provisions of legislation signed by Gov. Mary Fallin.
Senate Bill 878 included a variety of changes aimed at reining in costs and getting injured workers back on the job sooner. The new medical fee schedule is to be developed by Jan. 1, 2012, and is aimed at reducing overall medical costs by 5 percent.
Among the other changes in the legislation are:
- Requiring treatment plans for injured workers to follow nationally recognized standards. As of March 1, 2012, the scope and duration of medical treatment must be in accordance with the Official Disability Guidelines, as published by the Work Loss Data Institute.
- Require use of the American Medical Association Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment, 5th edition as the basis for physicians' opinions on the nature and extent of permanent partial impairment.
- Limit the number of times an injured worker may change from the treating physician chosen by the employer. If surgery is recommended, the employer would automatically be entitled to a second opinion.
- Require physicians to disclose ownership in other health-related businesses, hospital facilities, or diagnostic centers.
- Require employers to provide medical care within seven days and fine those for not paying medical bills promptly.
- Eliminate a penalty for employers who, in good faith, delay payment of medical bills while bills are being audited.
- Retain the workers' compensation court and expand it to a 10-member panel. The court had been reduced to eight members last year.
Gov. Fallin vetoed a separate bill that would have increased the reimbursement rate for doctors who sell medical equipment, prosthetics, orthotics, and implantables, either directly or through associated businesses in which they have a financial interest. Fallin said that legislation would diminish the cost savings realized in S.B. 878.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 16, 2011
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