State Sen. Debbe Leftwich on Feb. 20 withdrew a measure that was before the Senate Judiciary Committee. Senate Bill 662 would have restored the right of employees to choose their own physician after being injured on the job.
“This is something that was taken away as a part of the worker’s compensation reform bill passed in the 2005 special session,” Leftwich said. “My constituents still are frustrated and upset about this change. The problem is, if we’d taken it to a vote in committee and lost, under the new Senate rules it would have been dead for two full years.”
Leftwich, D-Oklahoma City, said compelling testimony was presented to the committee members, with Dr. George Caldwell, president of the Tulsa County Medical Society, telling Senators he supported the measure.
“I think choice of physician is a fundamental right,” Caldwell said. “I think that this bill provides some checks and balances, and I think it ensures quality medical care, compassionate medical care, while we do all we can to get these people back to work as quickly as possible.”
Dr. Ivan Holmes, president of the Board of Community Health Charities of Oklahoma, said the individual’s right to choose his or her doctor is something that the majority of Oklahomans in every single county wants.
“We took a poll on this issue, and in Oklahoma, 78 percent of Oklahomans want this right. In Kingfisher County, 86 percent wanted this right.”
Leftwich said that testimony is proof that the dialogue should continue on this issue.
“By withdrawing the bill now, we are essentially keeping the issue alive,” Leftwich said. That means we still have an opportunity to bring this to a vote in the future. It’s what the majority of Oklahomans want, and I’m going to do everything I can to make sure their voices are heard.”
Source: Oklahoma Senate
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