Proposal Unleashes Wave of Workers’ Comp Mandates

It’s very basic—the states whose economies are growing the fastest and where jobs are increasing the most are also those working the hardest to be business-friendly.

That’s why a Labor Committee proposal to adopt a tidal wave of new workers’ compensation requirements and mandates on employers is so potentially harmful to Connecticut’s already tarnished image.  

SB 907 seeks to make it harder for employers to manage workers’ compensation cases by requiring incredibly burdensome, and in many cases, virtually impossible tasks.  

Among other things, the bill:

  • Requires an employer to issue a notice of intent to discontinue benefits within five days of the employer or its insurer obtaining notification of the claimant’s need for treatment; if not, the employer may lose the right to contest the treatment.
  • Requires employers to obtain, within five days of receiving notice, the opinion of a Connecticut-licensed physician that the doctor treating the claimant is recommending treatment outside the reasonable standard of care--in essence, committing malpractice.   
  • Requires employers challenging medical treatment to not just schedule but obtain a Respondent’s Medical Examination (RME) within two weeks of seeking to discontinue benefits.
  • Requires employers to continue paying for disputed treatment until a state workers’ comp commissioner rules, in writing, that the employer may end payment.
  • Allows a claimant to choose his or her own course of care when there is disagreement between the RME and treating physician regarding the best options for treatment

Impractical, impossible, unreasonable

Requiring employers to obtain a medical opinion and file notice within five days is impractical and in most cases impossible. It often takes weeks to obtain a written opinion from a physician, many of whom will understandably not offer an opinion without having examined the patient.   

Mandating employers to obtain an opinion from a Connecticut physician alleging a fellow physician is acting outside the reasonable standard of care also, understandably, is nearly impossible. In a state as small as Connecticut, it would be incredibly difficult to obtain such an opinion from a physician practicing in the same community as the treating doctor.     

Regarding the obtaining of RMEs, the Chairman of the Workers’ Compensation Commission has already created reasonable and equitable guidelines for the scheduling and performance of RMEs.

Under these guidelines, employers must schedule the RME within 12 days from receipt of the request for contested treatment, with the exam to be performed within 60 days of scheduling. 

These established, accepted, and reasonable guidelines show the glaring unreasonableness of SB 907’s mandates.

Costs rising

SB 907 is an unnecessary added burden to Connecticut’s employers. In a year in which our businesses have seen an average increase of 7% in their workers’ compensation rates, this bill would certainly become another cost driver.

It’s also important to note that the cost of medical benefits has continuously risen in the state. For a long time, medical benefits paid in workers’ compensation claims were about a third of an average claim. Now, they have climbed to 50% or more of each claim. 

If enacted, SB 907 will force already high medical costs even higher, making Connecticut less competitive to businesses. 

For more information, contact CBIA’s Bonnie Stewart at 860.244.1925 or bonnie.stewart@cbia.com.

 

Discussion

Joseph K. Casserino

There is no sense in what our legislators are doing to our economy here in CT. They just seem to delight in making laws that are hurting employers to stay in business. I have personally spoken to a few of them that are so disgusted in trying to do business, keeping up with all the new laws that have made employers just either close their businesses, or raise their prices to stay in business.
Of course once that happens they are no longer competitive with their pricing,layoffs begin,unemployment rates escalate, no work to manufacture, taxes still have to be paid on their place of business.
The obvious answer is lock the doors, close up shop and try to understand what were our legislators really thinking when they enacted these unfriendly employer laws, that caused so many people to go on unemployment.
You try to understand the sense of it, i certainly can"t. Maybe it is time to move on to a more friendly employer state where you feel they want to have your business, unlike here where they make it so hard,with all the new laws they enact to drive everyone away.