Worker's arguments fail to increase payment to out-of-state provider
Case name: Schatz v. Interfaith Care Center, No. A11-1171 (Minn. 04/11/12).
Ruling: The Minnesota Supreme Court held that a statute that limits the liability of an employer to pay an out-of-state medical provider is constitutional.
What it means: In Minnesota, an in-state employer's workers' compensation liability to an out-of-state medical provider is set at the amount provided in the workers' compensation schedule in the state where the provider is located.
Summary: A worker injured her left shoulder in a work-related car accident while she was living and working in Minnesota. Later, she moved to Wyoming where she received medical treatment for her injury. Her Wyoming medical providers submitted their bills to the employer's workers' compensation carrier.
Relying on a Minnesota statute that provided that an out-of-state medical provider can receive the amount provided in the workers' compensation fee schedule of the state where treatment is rendered, the insurer made payments in the amount set forth in the Wyoming workers' compensation schedule. The worker sought the unpaid balance. The Minnesota Supreme Court held that the insurer paid the medical provider the proper amount.
The court explained that the amount paid to an out-of-state provider could be the same, higher, or lower than the workers' compensation fee schedule for Minnesota. The worker argued that the statute led to the "absurd result" of requiring her to pay for her own reasonable medical expenses. The court said that the statute was aimed at cost containment for employers.
The court also rejected the worker's arguments that the statute was unconstitutional. The court said that her argument that she was entitled to more workers' compensation benefits than other Wyoming residents because she would have received those benefits in Minnesota lacked merit.
The court also explained that since workers' compensation benefits are not vested property interests, the worker did not have a constitutionally protected property interest.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
June 21, 2012
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