Workers Compensation Bills Head to House Floor in Colo.

March 12, 2007

The Colorado House Business Affairs and Labor Committee has approved two workers’ compensation bills, one affecting employee’s choice of physician and another affecting firefighters..

House Bill 1176 would change the workers’ comp system to allow an injured employee to choose a treating physician from a list, prepared by the injured employee’s employer, of at least two physicians or one or more networks of health care providers. And it would allow a health care provider or governmental entity that has its own health care
network to designate that network as a treating physician.

According to the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI), the change would increase costs to the workers’ comp system. Currently under Colorado’s workers compensation law, employers designate the physicians that will treat injured workers. There are also provisions that allow workers to request a change in medical providers. But HB 1176 would require insurers and employers to provide injured workers a choice of an “unaffiliated” doctor, PCI said.

“This legislation sounds simple on its face, but it is filled with ambiguous terms and unclear practical application which are aimed at breaking down some of Colorado’s 16 year-old reforms of the workers compensation system,” said Kelly Campbell, regional manager for PCI. “This legislation is unnecessary because the current system already contains a process for injured workers to make a change in their treating physician. However, it would add administrative costs and may be impractical to implement in rural areas of the state.”

Additionally, the committee passed HB 1008, which notes that if a firefighter contracts cancer of the brain, skin, digestive system, hematological system, or genitourinary system, the condition or
impairment shall be deemed to have occurred within the course and scope of employment unless a physical examination of such firefighter shows evidence of such condition or impairment that preexisted employment.

“By moving these bills forward, lawmakers are making a direct attack on Colorado’s workers compensation system and the state’s economy,” Campbell said. “Workers compensation rates have been stable over the last 16 years, but business will feel these changes in their pocketbooks if these measures are enacted.”

Both bills are headed to the House floor where they will be likely be debated this week.

Source: Colorado General Assembly, PCI

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