State of the States May 20, 2022

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A National WCRI report says that chiropractic care lowered claims costs generally.

National

The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) recently released its findings of chiropractic utilization in workers’ comp among patients with lower back pain (LBP). States with provider choice policies allowing employer control in the selection of providers were among the states with the lowest usage of chiropractic care. CA, MN, NY & WI had the highest utilization rates of chiropractic care among injured workers with LBP, whereas SC, AR & GA were among the lowest. Research shows that injured workers with LBP who received chiropractic care were less likely to need opioids. WCRI’s study of 28 states analyzing research conducted from 2015 to 2017 also concluded that injured workers using chiropractic care lowered claims costs generally. 

 

OSHA commenced it hearing loss prevention program and enforcement on May 17th

National

The Occupational Safety & Health Administration is pursuing a new initiative: hearing loss prevention. High rates of hearing loss from employees were recorded in CO, MT, ND, and SD. In 2019 the Bureau of Labor Statists estimated that damaging noise levels put 18 million US workers at risk producing 14,500 cases of hearing loss. Excessive noise exposure is shown to cause other issues such as increased physiological stress, muscle tension, loss of sleep, and fatigue. While several occupations were at risk, OSHA’s program takes aim at large manufacturers where it sees higher than average rates of hearing loss. Enforcement of the program commenced on May 17th. 

 

In Florida Governor DeSantis signed into law legislation that will require public employers to retain medical records of firefighter, police, and correctional officers for a minimum of five years

FLGovernor DeSantis recently signed HB453 into law, requiring public employers to retain medical records of law enforcement officers, correctional officers, and firefighters for a minimum of five years. Supporters of the bill say having these medical records on hand will help better determine workers’ compensation eligibility. If the employer does not have records on file, the employee is deemed eligible for benefits. This bill takes effect July 1st. 

 

A Minnesota Supreme Court decision is more likely to be upheld that would bar medical cannabis from being reimbursed in workers’ compensation

MNThe Department of Justice (DOJ), after being asked by the Supreme Court (SCOTUS) for comments on the subject of medical cannabis in workers’ compensation, said yesterday they believe the Minnesota Supreme Court made the correct decision. Minnesota’s Supreme Court, despite previous state precedent, ruled recently that medical cannabis is not allowed to be reimbursed in workers’ compensation since federal laws under the Controlled Substance Act (CSA) still consider it a schedule I substance. DOJ officials, in their statement, urged SCOTUS not to review the case as they believe a legislative solution would be a more suitable pathway. While the DOJ noted a growing societal acceptance of medical cannabis, the agency does not believe employers and carriers should be forced to reimburse until federal law is altered. Specifically, the DOJ stated that “when a federal law such as the CSA prohibits possession of a particular item, it preempts a state law requiring a private party to subsidize the purchase of that item.” Although it is yet to be seen how the DOJ’s comments will affect the court’s decision to take up the case, justices such as Clarence Thomas have previously voiced their concerns saying the federal government’s approach to cannabis is inconsistent. 

 

South Carolina legislators will likely not pass medical cannabis legislation this year

SC After months of extensive review and House and Senate drafting, the legislature declined to pursue allowing for medical cannabis in the state. In a last-ditch effort, the Senate sponsor, attempted to amend another piece of legislation on the floor to include medical cannabis. The Senate decisively rejected the amendment. Despite the Senate approving the measure earlier this year, House members have not been as supportive, citing concerns regarding the regulatory process. Bill language would have prohibited smokable cannabis products. Cannabis advocates will likely have to wait till next year to address the issue. 

 

Tennessee lawmakers added certain cancers to the state’s presumption list for firefighters

TNBoth legislative chambers have agreed to passage for a firefighter presumption bill, SB1569. Bill language would add leukemia and testicular cancer to the state’s cancer presumption list allowing full-time firefighters to claim benefits with greater ease. By adding these cancers to existing presumption statutes, it is presumed that the cancers arose out of the firefighters’ occupational duties unless competent medical evidence can be shown to the contrary. The legislation now goes to the Governor’s office for final consideration. 

 

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