Anon writes: Just skimmed through SB 362. Arghh!! I haven't really compared it to the old law but so far I see the bill:
1. Removes your right to a lawyer. That's right:
all private contracts between an attorney and an employee...are against public policy and void.
I suppose employers can still hire squadrons of lawyers to try to squash your claim.
I wonder if this workers comp bill is the quid pro quo for the minimum wage bill. That would explain RAM's sudden and uncharacteristic burst of zeal to get it done now.
2. Imposes HMO-style utilization review (i.e., DOL will be making medical decisions, not your doctor):
[DOL] shall adopt...a coordinated set of medical practice guidelines and associated regulations and procedures to guide utilization of medical treatments in workers’ compensation... prescription drug utilization, inpatient hospitalization and length of stay, diagnostic testing, physical therapy, chiropractic care and palliative care.
3. Certification requirement implements a two-level certification for for health care providers.
- If the provider doesn't have Cert Level 1, injured workers have to get pre-authorized.
- If you don't have Cert Level 2, you aren't permitted to rate the severity of the workers disability and you can't testify to IAB or OWC (Office of Workers Comp).
Truthfully, I don't completely understand the impact of these certifications but, since DOL doles them out according to hazy criteria, there seems to be a lot of opportunity for mischief and favoritism, and I suspect it is designed to grandfather in certain large existing practices in Delaware. It smells like a deal.
All in all this bill looks like a hit on Delaware's workers. When the claim is made that Delaware has high workers comp costs, that's because workers are well-protected in Delaware and are receiving what's due to them. Currently workers can file a workers comp case WITH A LAWYER who will follow the case and make sure the worker gets what he or she is owed. This assistance is necessary because injuries can play out over an entire lifetime, and employers will never cease to find new ways to cut you off. Therfore an attorney's assistance is essential to protect your rights, especially at a time when you may be broke, sick/hurt, or both.
That's all for now, just from a first reading.
I'll have to see if Robert Aurbach wants to respond. I know from his comments on the show that he feels that the bill ensures that the savings gleaned from cutting lawyers out of the loop will acrue to workers.