HB 592, Rep. Talbot’s closed pharmacy formulary bill, which would make the Work Loss Data Institute’s “Official Disability Guidelines” the law of the land, narrowly passed the House Labor and Industrial Relations Committee yesterday 8 to 5, with several members absent. Three hours of debate saw both sides make impassioned arguments, with proponents saying that the formulary is necessary to keep injured workers from becoming addicted to opioids and opponents arguing that the formulary (and ODG in particular) is only cost-motivated and that it would add another layer to the existing workers’ comp bureaucracy already in place under the Medical Treatment Guidelines.
Mark Bellue of LUBA Workers’ Comp and Wayne Fontana of Roedel Parsons presented the bill with Rep. Talbot, calling on the expertise of Texas-based Dr. Steve Norwood, Senior Medical Editor of ODG. Norwood claimed that Texas doctors are generally satisfied with the formulary in his state and that costs and opioid prescriptions have decreased massively.
On the other side, Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration (OWCA) Director Sheral Kellar, AFL-CIO rep Julie Cherry and attorney Jennifer Valois argued that, given the fact that the MTGs process has already been found unconstitutional and is tied up in litigation, it would be unwise to add to the process until that is resolved. Jennifer Marusak, who represented both the Louisiana Commission on Preventing Opioid Abuse and the Louisiana Medical Association at the meeting, argued that the general population restrictions on opioids currently being considered in the Legislature are sufficient and that data out of Texas is unreliable.
Keep an eye on all of the bills we’re tracking this Session here.