The Business Council strongly opposes S.8794 (Robach) / A.10903 (Barnwell) which would allow for medical treatment outside the scope of the Workers’ Compensation Medical Treatment Guidelines without variance or review by the Workers’ Compensation Board, thus overriding the Guidelines and ignoring their very purpose.
The adoption of objective, evidence-based medical treatment guidelines for injured workers that identify specific medical treatments that are considered appropriate and effective has been a significant undertaking and one that has not only given the best care to injured workers but provides that care in a more cost-effective manner than without such guidelines. The imposition of legislative mandate to ignore the guidelines runs counter to the efforts of the Legislature, the Administration and the Workers’ Compensation Board in reforming the system over the last decade.
This legislation will do nothing to improve the quality of care delivered to claimants in the workers’ compensation system, nor will it increase the likelihood or timeliness of a healthy and productive return to work. It will only work to undermine the efforts of the physicians, appointed by organized labor, The Business Council and the Workers’ Compensation Board, who diligently reviewed evidence and created fair and outcome-directed guidelines for the system, and will undoubtedly add significant and unnecessary cost to an already expensive workers’ compensation system.
By almost all measures and in the eyes of most in the system, the Medical Treatment Guidelines have been a true success story. In addition to better care, these guidelines have also done an excellent job in controlling the prescription of opioids and other addictive drugs, contributing to New York’s fight against the scourge of addiction.
Issues of access to care are currently being addressed by the Board in a medical fee schedule update. This bill will not address access to care in any way. It will simply allow doctors to ignore the evidence-based guidelines and perform practically any procedure and prescribe any drug that they desire. There is little doubt that this bill would lead to proliferation of unnecessary treatments, putting injured workers at risk and significantly increasing costs for every employer in the state.
For these reasons, The Business Council strongly opposes S.8794 (Robach) / A.10903 (Barnwell) and urges its defeat.