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State of the States April 8, 2022

Work comp for apprentices

Vocational schools are looking to boost workers’ compensation protections for apprenticeships

NationalVocational trade schools may be required in multiple states to provide workers' compensation coverage for individuals enrolled in apprenticeships. The states of Indiana, Oklahoma, and Wyoming proposed legislation this session that would require coverage for those learning technical skills in trade schools. Indiana passed this legislation into law, joining California, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Tennessee, and Texas who have already passed legislation calling on local education agencies to provide workers' compensation coverage for students participating in physically demanding trade areas. Experts say that without workers' compensation insurance, several students cannot go to job sites and be present in experience-based learning. Expanded coverage is seen as a win for trade schools to recruit more students as blue-collar jobs experience declining numbers. 


A new report says that workers’ compensation pharmacy costs declined 38% in the past decade 

NationalWhile opioid use falls in workers' compensation, issues largely remain. Workers' compensation opioid spending declined 62% since 2016, with many attributing this to the work of formularies, PDMP's and similar protocols. Data collected by Maggie Valley, an N.C.-based consulting company, also says that total workers' compensation pharmacy costs decreased by 38% in the past decade. Despite opioids being less prescribed they remain number one "as far as the most utilized therapeutic class for injured workers," according to a Mitchell Executive. Mitchell personnel indicate that attitudes toward opioids are slightly altering, saying, "there's still a concern on the part of providers that we have gone too far with restricting opioids." Experts believe that newly revised CDC opioid guidelines giving more leeway to providers is a mixed bag. Some believe the new approach will better address those patients whose pain is not being adequately managed by low dosages; others say the guidelines are problematic as they remain unclear on the recommended upper limits of opioid dosing. 


Colorado lawmakers proposed legislation to make injured workers mental health records confidential

COLawmakers in the state proposed legislation last week that would protect the mental health records of injured workers. HB1354 would prohibit an insurer from releasing an injured worker's mental health record to their employer without their consent. Bill language would require mental health records from a provider be released to only those parties that are necessary for payment, adjustment, and adjudication of claims involving psychiatric issues. The bill will also entail the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) to institute a training program regarding the confidentiality of mental health records for DWC employees and allow the division to modify rules relating to this legislation as it sees fit. The bill will receive a hearing in the Public & Behavioral Health & Human Services Committee on April 12th. 


Massachusetts legislators proposed a bill that would penalize employers for retaliation against employees who file a workers’ compensation claim

MA HB4606 introduced Monday by the Joint Committee on Labor & Workforce Development, would give significant protections to injured workers when considering or filing a claim. The bill would make retaliation from an employer regarding a workers' compensation claim a presumed violation and subject to penalization. The presumption is rebuttable and would require "clear and convincing evidence that the adverse action (against the employee) was taken for a permissible purpose and that the action would have been taken in the absence of the person's exercise of a right afforded by this chapter". If a worker believes they have been the subject of retaliation for filing a workers' compensation claim or reporting a workplace injury/illness, they may file a complaint with the A.G.'s office, which could carry criminal or civil proceedings for employers accused of retaliation if sufficient evidence is met. HB4606 already received a favorable report from the Joint Labor & Workforce Committee and now goes to the House Ways and Means Committee. 


The second phase of the New York formulary commenced on April 4th

NYThe second phase of the New York Workers' Compensation Board's release of its new technology system Onboard commenced on Monday, April 4th. Onboard will replace the paper-based workers' compensation process, modernizing it to an all-electronic platform. Phase two will enact the durable medical equipment authorization (DME) fee schedule. This change requires that provisioners of medical supplies used to treat workplace-related injury or illness be registered with the Onboard system to request, review, assign and respond to prior authorization requests for a DME item. The reimbursement rate will also be altered as it will now be charged by a state-specific fee schedule and delinked from Medicaid rates. Provisioners must submit a prior authorization request for any time not listed in the DME fee schedule. Phase one started on March 4th, requiring all prescription medication refills and renewals to comply with the state formulary. May 2nd marks phase three, the final step for full implementation.


Note: To access audio for the LWU please access audio via Adobe by a.) choosing “view” at the top menu b.) click “activate read out loud” c.) click “read to end of the document”.

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