As the few workers’ comp bills filed this Legislative Session move through the process in the Session’s final weeks, Representative Alan Seabaugh (R-Shreveport) spoke with Louisiana Comp Blog to discuss his bill that sought to rein in medical implants prices and PTSD presumptions.
Comp Blog: HB571, your bill that would limit the reimbursed amount under workers’ comp for implants and grafts at the manufacturer’s original invoice amount, exclusive of rebates and discounts, plus 20 percent, failed to pass the House. Can you give some insight into why that happened?
Rep. Seabaugh: There was a lot of misinformation thrown about. I worked the floor after the vote and several people voted against it based on misinformation or misunderstanding. One representative said that he voted against it because his mother was a breast cancer survivor and had implants. That has nothing to do with this because it’s a workers’ comp bill.
The physician-owned distributors that have been jacking up the prices basically called around and had doctors in their area call around and spread disinformation about what is going on here.
Comp Blog: What was the nature of the disinformation you heard about?
Rep. Seabaugh: They were saying that some facilities could not get the implants from the original manufacturer and had to go through distributors. I’m not sure how prevalent that is or if it’s true. Every facility I talked to said that they had no problem getting an original manufacturer’s invoice, which is what the bill required. It didn’t say you had to buy it from the original manufacturer, you just need an invoice. The people that have a problem with it are the ones that want to mark it up a lot more than 20 percent. And all of this came through at the last minute.
We’ve actually been able to talk to some of the people who opposed it and work with them to come up with language that would satisfy just about everybody except for the bad actors we’re trying to weed out.
Comp Blog: What’s the next step for this legislation? Do you anticipate bringing it again next year?
Rep. Seabaugh: We think that we can address the concerns and potentially bring it again through a motion to reconsider on the floor this Session, but that would have to happen this week since we only have three weeks left. If not we’ll try again next year.
Comp Blog: Would you say that a lack of understanding of how workers’ comp differs from general health was the main contributing factor to the bill’s failure then?
Rep. Seabaugh: Yes I would. I actually had one person who said they voted against it because they wanted it to apply to everyone, not just comp.
Comp Blog: You were also active, along with Rep. Miguez, in the Committee hearing on Senator Gatti’s SB107, which would create a rebuttable presumption for first responders suffering from PTSD. You both introduced amendments to narrow the presumption. What were the problems there?
Rep. Seabaugh: We certainly narrowed it by removing the cumulative trauma aspect, but of course I need to go back and look at that again because it was on the fly and I want to make sure I checked all the boxes.
The problem with the bill as originally drafted was that if you develop PTSD while employed in those jobs, it was assumed to be related even if it wasn’t work-related. The other problem was that you could only rebut the presumption with certain kinds of evidence and one of the things not on the list was lack of involvement with trauma on the job. You could rebut that by proving that the PTSD was from a non-work-related trauma, but one of the things that you couldn’t offer was that they’d been involved in no trauma at work. Under that scenario, the fire chief’s secretary, who doesn’t go on calls, could develop PTSD from something else and it would be presumed to be work-related. My intent with the amendments was to put in a requirement of preponderance of the evidence on both sides.
Image Credit: Louisiana House of Representatives