This year saw the typical drill regarding workers' compensation issues where the parties circle the wagons and then shoot inward. Bad bills that would have allowed employers to create a list of physicians for the employee to choose his or her doctor, to create networks of providers for ancillary services and to restrict change of treating doctor failed to pass.
Also, a bill to create a medical advisor at the Texas Workers' Compensation Commission was loaded-up with other issues and became caught in a crossfire between House and Senate sponsors, along with organized labor and others who opposed certain new sections. The bill died on the last day of the session. A medical quality panel composed of six physicians to review policies and practices provisions also failed to pass. A bill encouraging carriers to increase the use of the electronic submission of information passed along with a bill allowing the TWCC to go to a later version of the AMA Impairment Guide. Also, hearing officers were given the power to continue payment of medical and indemnity benefits during the appeal of a decision. It is likely there will be an interim study of health-care costs in the workers compensation system. Business has said workers' compensation reform would be a priority issue next session.
Workers' Compensation Staff Contacts
Greg Herzog, Legislative Affairs: (512) 370-1360
Pat Coffey, Payment Advocacy: (512) 370-1416
Teresa Devine, Health Care Financing: (512) 370-1415
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