Ohio is currently considering adopting changes to the way the state workers' compensation system functions. A Republican member of the Ohio House will oversee committee hearings on the issue, which will see lawmakers discussing three bills aimed at improving the workers' compensation system by increasing the average rate at which injured workers are able to return to their jobs, but could lead to workers being forced back to work faster than they are ready.
According to the representative, Ohio's workers' compensation laws need to be tweaked to attract new employers to the state and convince existing companies to stay.
The bills' stated goal is to improve medical care for workers, which would allow injured workers to return to work sooner. The representative claimed that 93 percent of Ohio workers who are injured on the job and receive workers' compensation benefits are back to work within 45 days, leaving 7 percent out of work for much longer periods.
The head of the Ohio Bureau of Workers' Compensation said that the number of employees who are able to quickly return to work after an injury has fallen in the last five years.
According to the BWC, the three reform bills would make injured workers seek medical care immediately, only rewarding them with benefits if they follow their treatment plan as prescribed by the BWC and medical professionals. The bills would also give the BWC the power to ban "underperforming" health care providers. Workers who are injured for more than 45 days would only be allowed to seek treatment from a state-selected provider.
It's important that lawmakers and the BWC answer the question of what they would want from the special providers that injured workers would have to see. Will preference be given to providers that ignore lingering health concerns and say workers should get back to the job so the state can save money?
Source: Chillicothe Gazette, "Ohio considering workers' comp reform," Jessica Alaimo, April 21, 2012