Changes to the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system will impact the way physicians provide prescription drugs to injured workers.
A bill passed in the Pennsylvania state legislature and signed by Governor Tom Corbett in late October comes with some significant changes to the state workers’ compensation system.
According to the Pennsylvania Business Daily, the measure addresses what many believe was a problem in the existing state law that allowed for increased costs when physicians directly prescribed medications to injured workers rather than going through a pharmacy. This reportedly led to drug repackaging companies working with medical professionals to offer prescription drugs directly from doctors’ offices, a practice that may cost up to six times more than pharmacy-distributed drugs.
Aiming for cost reductions, greater stability
The Pennsylvania Chamber of Commerce pushed for the bill, arguing that the state’s relatively high workers’ compensation rates were due in large part to pharmacy bypassing. Lawmakers hope that the measure will reduce costs for employers and bring more stability to the system overall. In the process, it could reduce the workers’ compensation system’s costs by about 1 percent, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer.
The bill features several new regulations, including the fact that the price of physician-dispensed drugs cannot exceed more than 110 percent of the average wholesale price of the prescription in question. Outpatient providers are no longer allowed to receive reimbursements for more than a one-week supply of any controlled substance containing hydrocodone related to a workers’ compensation claim, and pharmacies are the only providers allowed to collect reimbursements for over-the-counter drugs.
In addition to cost reduction, lawmakers in favor of the bill say that it will reduce narcotics addictions stemming from the over-prescription of certain medications. The bill includes a new 30-day limit on doctor-dispensed drugs and a seven-day limit on prescribed Schedule II and III medications, along with a waiting period of 15 days for individuals who are undergoing surgical procedures.
Concerns for injured workers in Pennsylvania
Although the bill has received widespread support, not everyone is in favor of the new restrictions. By limiting the availability of these drugs to injured workers, the law could prevent individuals from receiving the care and medication they need to recover as quickly as possible after a serious workplace accident. It could also impact physicians’ ability to efficiently and effectively treat their patients, especially individuals dealing with painful injuries that need immediate attention through the administration of medication.
The fact that the bill received so much support from business groups like the Chamber of Commerce and others also raises suspicions that it aims to benefit employers rather than taking into account the wellbeing of people injured on the job.
As these new measures are implemented, legal advocates will continue to monitor the impact the changes have on both patients and doctors across Pennsylvania. If you or a loved one has been injured in a workplace accident, consult an experienced Pottsville workers’ compensation attorney right away.