Here’s why a worker’s comp reform bill will help fight the opioid crisis | Opinion

In a recent op-ed for PennLive, Dr. George L. Rodriguez, of the Injury Rehabilitation Centers of Pennsylvania, said that state lawmakers have the “gall” to claim that a bill now before the state House will help address our state’s opioid crisis.

There is unmistakable evidence that this bill is good policy. In Ohio, when that state’s workers’ compensation system adopted a similar drug formulary, the use of opioids dropped by 29 percent in four years.

It’s prime time to tackle opioid abuse in the workers’ comp system, as thousands die each year in Pennsylvania, as recognized by Gov. Wolf when he declared a state emergency earlier this month.

A 2017 study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute found Pennsylvania to be the 2nd highest state for the number of opioids per claim a 87 percent higher than the median state.

This formulary uses evidence-based research to reduce overprescribing and lower the risk of addiction for injured workers.

Rodriguez’s claim that the formulary bill was “written, introduced and passed in four days without public input” is uninformed.

This workers compensation reform doesn't help workers at all | Opinion

The issue had a hearing last June in the state House Labor and Industry Committee.  The full Senate passed it last October. Physicians like Dr. Rodriguez had plenty of time to reach out to their state Senators and Representatives.

Rodriguez insists this is a “cynical ploy by insurers and small employers to cut costs and increase profits.”

The bill (SB936), which is sponsored by Senate Insurance Committee Chairman Don White, R-Indiana, requires that all savings from the formulary go to reduce insurance premiums, not enhance company profits.

Those savings are important to small businesses struggling with the high cost of workers’ compensation insurance, which is expected to jump even higher in the coming months.

The writer claims the drug formulary concept is a “one size fits all approach” that hampers individual doctor’s choices. Programs such as CHIP and Medicare are already successfully using drug formularies.

Let’s make no mistake a unregulated prescription of opioids in the workers’ comp system is a gateway to abuse and addiction.

Rebecca Oyler is the legislative director for the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) Pennsylvania. She writes from Harrisburg.


2 Responses

  1. Let’s see, workmans comp is generally for severe injuries which cause pain so of course it makes sense to put everyone in the drug addict box and take away what makes life bearable. NOT!!

  2. how can anyone be dying from prescribed opiates if no-one has ever enter’d into a e.r. for taking their medicine as prescribed,,,,ever???!!!!,,,,ANOTHER PROPAGANDA TOOL,,god,no-one in Washington or involved in this opiate false issue is telling the truth anymore!!!!or ever!!!!,,,,mayrw

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