Your vote at the state and local level will have a huge impact on the future of Pennsylvania Worker’s Compensation. The politicians you elect at the state level will be drafting and voting on changes to the Worker’s Compensation Act that will be critical to the future rights of injured workers.
There are important bills coming up at the state level that involve IREs, the uninsured fund, and what happens when an insurance company goes out of business. The state government is also attempting to address whether opioids should be prescribed to injured workers and if so, how much discretion should be left to the treating doctors to determine the dosage and duration of the prescriptions. The choices you make today regarding who will represent you will have repercussions for many years to come.
One of the major issues at stake in Pennsylvania involves Impairment Rating Evaluations (IREs). These are cookie-cutter evaluations performed by state-designated physicians that are paid for by the insurance industry. They are used to limit injured workers’ access to benefits. Recently, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down this method for limiting workers’ rights because of the unconstitutional way in which the statute was written.
The insurance industry has been lobbying your state representatives to pass new laws reenacting the IRE process to protect their profit margin. The carriers suggest that failure to do so will force a rise in premiums. What they fail to say is that the rise in premiums will not be to ensure the carriers remain profitable, but to ensure their profits are huge. It is essential that you find out where your representatives stand on these issues so that your vote can be informed.
The Uninsured Employers Guaranty Fund (UEGF) was designed to ensure that injures workers would have access to benefits even if their employers failed to carry insurance in violation of the Act. However, the UEGF has been woefully underfunded. This past February, the UEGF stopped paying any medical bills, except for pharmaceuticals, so it could keep paying the ongoing wage loss benefits owed to disabled workers. If the UEGF is not properly funded, all benefits may cease. Take the time to research how your representatives will respond to this issue. This is especially true for those who live in a district that has members from the majority party in the House.
You can also expect to see proposed legislation dealing with the prescribing of opioids in Worker’s Compensation cases. This topic has received quite a bit of attention recently and Governor Wolf has recently published suggested guidelines regarding the proper prescription of opioid medication. This is an important first step in the discussion. However, legislation is being discussed that would end or limit the discretion of your treating doctor to prescribe medication. Recently a bill was proposed that would standardize prescription of these medications taking all decision-making power out of the hands of the doctor and instead requiring the use of a formula. This bill was defeated, but it is likely that another attempt will be made to address this issue. It is critical that you know how your candidates will respond to this issue before casting your vote.
Remember that anti-worker’s legislation is proposed every year, and you need legislators that will protect your rights as workers, not compromise them. If you fail to support those who will best represent your rights, it will affect all of us, and the repercussions may last for many years. I encourage you to learn as much as you can about potential candidates so that you can make an informed choice when you head to the ballot box. Make your vote count for the future of Pennsylvania workers!
If you or someone you know is thinking about filing for worker’s compensation, call the law office of Geoffrey Hillsberg. Mr. Hillsberg has been representing injured workers throughout Delaware County and southeastern Pennsylvania for over 25 years. This narrow focus means the best representation for you, in-depth knowledge of the ever-changing worker’s compensation laws, and the assurance that someone is fighting to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact Mr. Hillsberg today for a free consultation.
The advice offered above is general in nature and may not be applicable to every case. Consultation with an attorney is highly recommended. Reliance on this advice does not represent the formation of an attorney-client relationship in the absence of a fee agreement with Mr. Hillsberg.
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