State of the States August 26, 2022

Firefighter gear

International -GreenThe World Health Organization (WHO) after a comprehensive review of several studies have designated firefighting as a “carcinogenic occupation"

The World Health Organization (WHO) will re-classify firefighting as a carcinogenic occupation. The International Agency for Research on Cancer within the WHO concluded through 52 cohort and case control studies, 12 case reports and 7 meta-analyses that firefighting be assigned as a Group 1 designation, meaning the job duties are carcinogenic to humans. The WHO and research partners hope this classification will "undisputedly indicate that firefighting is associated with increased cancer risk, and this finding ensures the first responders will not have to lobby for disability and other benefits associated with a cancer diagnosis." The profession's exposure ranges greatly from fire fumes to chemical exposure and even PFAS, also known as forever chemicals. Researchers agree that current protective gear is insufficient to significantly reduce cancer risk.

Sedgewick released its newest position national paper on the “past, present and future of workers’ compensation.” Areas of concern include the scope of presumptions, the aging American workforce and lagging faith in public health institutions

NationalSedgewick recently released its Position Paper on Workers' Compensation: Past, Present, Future. While sharing concerns about the future of the workforce and its aging demographic (particularly baby boomers), Sedgewick's paper focused significantly on the "post" covid regulatory and legislative environment. Specifically, the insurance giant voiced concern about presumptions and how they have gone "beyond what was traditionally covered as an occupational disease." The piece also touched on healthcare system changes amid the pandemic. Findings show that many Americans have lost faith in public health institutions and agencies while levels of trust have increased with healthcare workers, nurses, and doctors. Despite healthcare systems currently in economic strain, research demonstrates that individuals have become more engaged with their personal health and well-being. The paper also noted growing technological trends such as expanded telehealth and auto triage/auto adjudication systems. 

Florida’s DWC announced new workshops set for late Sept covering topics such as physician dispensing, insurer authorization and medical billing review

FLIn response to recent administrative changes and proposals, the Department of Workers' Compensation will hold multiple workshops on September 29th, addressing topics such as physician dispensing, insurer authorization, and medical billing review. The first workshop commences at 9:30 AM EST and will provide an overview of Healthcare Provider Medical Billing and Reporting Responsibilities (69L-8.730, F.A.C.). A 2 PM EST workshop will cover Insurer Authorization and Medical Billing Review Responsibilities (69L-7.740). 

Michigan legislators proposed a legislative changed aimed to provide cancer protections to former firefighters

MILegislators are mulling a proposal to add former firefighters to the state's existing cancer presumption statutes. HB6360 would allow full-time, part-time, paid on-call, volunteer, former forest fire officers or fire/crash rescue officers to be eligible for existing workers' compensation cancer presumptions. The bill will be assigned to the Rules Committee for further consideration. 

Texas DWC officials announced new requirements for physicians utilizing the TXCOMP system

TXDivision of Workers' Compensation officials in the Lone Star state announced new requirements for physicians. This week the D.W.C. introduced new mandated regulatory protocols for administrators and doctors to utilize the web-based TXCOMP. D.W.C. officials will require providers and administrators to accept and manage designated doctor appointments through the TXCOMP system and fill out reports electronically. New features on the web-based portal will include email notices regarding appointments on a doctor's profile and the ability to accept or decline appointment offers. Physicians may also use the portal to request medical record assistance and extensions for filing/uploading reports. Alterations to the portal will take effect on September 19th.  

Virginia’s WC Commission will implement changes to court documents that directs claims administrators or insurance carriers to respond to injured workers' claim forms within 30 days

VAThe Workers' Compensation Commission (W.C.C.) announced changes to the official court document that directs claims administrators or insurance carriers to respond to injured workers' claim forms within 30 days. Changes include added language that will clarify who is expected to respond and allows parties to provide a specified response identifying areas where they concur. The W.C.C. will add space to the order response form granting the parties the opportunity to agree to a medical award on specific injuries without addressing all claimed conditions. The W.C.C. also added language to its cover page aiming to clear up that the employer should confirm with its carrier or claims administrator whether they will respond to the order on its behalf. These changes go into effect on Friday. 

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