What old and new challenges can people expect from workers’ comp in 2016?
It seems like things keep getting harder for our clients. We thought it would be interesting to address some of the current and future challenges in the Michigan workers’ comp system. Here is our list of 4 issues to watch in 2016.
Issue 1. Evidence based medicine
We have written about evidence based medicine in the past. It is a controversial issue and has the potential to shake up medical treatment under workers’ comp. We have heard rumors that some version could be adopted in 2016. It is hard not be cynical when medical costs are already well controlled by a fee schedule and some of the lowest in the Midwest. Relying upon insurance company guidelines over recommendations by a treating doctor is just wrong.
Issue 2. Election year
It seems that workers’ comp has become a political football yet again. It gets tossed around every election cycle. We are currently in a presidential election year and most of the attention is focused on national candidates. Please remember that your state representatives are the individuals who have real control over workers’ comp in Michigan. Legislative reforms in 2011 have caused tremendous hardship and we need elected officials who will protect these benefits. Get out and vote!
Issue 3. Phantom wages
The Michigan Legislature passed significant reforms in 2011. Insurance companies are now permitted to use wage earning capacity to slash benefits. The problem is that insurance companies use their own vocational experts and get a credit for “phantom wages” regardless of whether a person actually finds a job. Almost all of our cases now involve disputes about the weekly compensation rate.
Issue 4. Reimbursement for opioids
Opioids have been a hot topic in workers’ comp for years. These medications are expensive and can result in addiction. The WCA published new administrative rules in 2014 that prohibit reimbursements for opioid treatment beyond 90 days unless detailed physician reporting requirements and other processes are met. This has created more bureaucracy and some claimants have voiced concerns about getting needed prescriptions. We anticipate even more attention in 2016.
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyers never charges a fee to evaluate a potential case. Our law firm has represented injured and disabled workers exclusively for more than 35 years. Call (855) 221-2667 for a free consultation today.
Photo courtesy of Creative Commons, by CarbonNYC [in SF!].