There is an old saying that while you might not take an interest in politics, politics definitely takes an interest in you. That is very true for injured workers during this session of the Arizona legislature. Two bills in particular could result in very negative changes for those injured on the job. Representative Karen Fann from Prescott has introduced the bills, almost definitely at the behest of ALEC, a national organization funded by large corporations that tries to enact changes in state legislatures which will enrich said large corporations, often at the expense of working people.
The first bill would force all injured workers to treat with doctors chosen for them by the insurance carriers - a sort of workers comp HMO. You can imagine the disastrous results this would cause for injured workers. Most carriers would enlist a panel of extremely conservative doctors whose primary concern would be to cut costs for the carrier in order to maintain the relationship. These doctors would provide a minimal amount of treatment and then tell the worker that they are fine and can go back to full work - even if they aren't. This happens all the time currently when workers allow their care to be directed by the insurance company.
The second bill would force treating doctors to follow pre-determined guidelines set by an out-of-state group - again with the goal being cost reductions for the carrier. It would remove any independent judgement on the part of the doctor and severely limit their ability to treat injured workers according to their experience and on a case by case basis.
As soon as Karen Fann and the rest of the legislature enlists in an HMO where their doctors are told what treatment they can do, I'll advise my clients to follow right behind. In the meantime, we'll keep fighting!
Chad T. Snow and X. Alex Carpio are attorneys who limit their practice to workers compensation and Social Security Disability with offices in Phoenix and Tucson Arizona. They can be reached at (602) 532-0700 or (520) 647-9000.