Wednesday, June 22, 2011

New York A Tale of Two Treatment Standards

New Yorkers may soon have two separate workers' compensation systems, at least so far as medical treatment is concerned.

A bill to restrict the application of treatment guidelines only to injuries or disabilities that occurred after regulatory implementation, which occurred last December 1, has cleared the Assembly and is pending before the Senate Rules Committee.

The bill is being promoted by the AFL-CIO and the New York Workers' Compensation Alliance. A 6294, filed by Assembly Labor Committee Chairman Keith L.T. Wright, D-New York City, provides that, "No guidelines providing for medical treatment, or rules or regulations pertaining thereto, shall be applied retroactively to cases with a date of accident or date of disablement that is prior to the date of any such guideline, rule or regulation."

The argument for the bill is that application of treatment guidelines to older injuries or disabilities would abruptly terminate treatment that had been ongoing for workers affected by the sudden implementation of the guides.

What the proponents of A 6294 are really saying is that the perpetuation of bad medicine is more important than getting injured workers to face reality - i.e. that their lives are changed, treatment has limitations, and ensuring provider security is more important than dealing with the new reality.

The bill is expected to clear the Senate and will likely become law.

A 6294 is a prime example of how simple issues in workers' compensation become exceedingly complex, and why incremental "reform" to control system costs never works in the long term.

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