The Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) held its September meeting in Baton Rouge yesterday. In addition to introducing new member Larry Stokes, the Council provided drafts of two proposed documents – a change to the IME rules and the updated chronic pain Medical Treatment Guideline.
New member Larry Stokes
Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration (OWCA) Director and WCAC Chair Sheral Kellar introduced a new member of the Council, vocational rehabilitation counselor Larry Stokes. Stokes has been in the field of Vocational Rehabilitation since 1982. He holds a Ph.D. in Counseling, specializing in Rehabilitation Counseling from the University of New Orleans. He is a licensed Rehabilitation Counselor and licensed Professional Counselor, and holds certification as Rehabilitation Counselor, Life Care Planner, Case Manager and Professional Counselor. Stokes operates Stokes and Associates Inc., based in New Orleans.
Proposed Changes to IME Rules
Director Kellar proposed changes to the independent medical evaluation rules (see draft document below). Noting that the OWCA medical services staff has handled 326 IME requests since January 1st, plus 2,286 Medical Treatment Guidelines disputes, Kellar explained that transferring the responsibility to assign IMEs to workers’ compensation judges, as opposed to the OWCA, would improve the system. “The judges in the district offices are more familiar with the doctors in the area,” she said. “They are better able to determine the medical expertise and assign a neutral third party.” Kellar also noted that this change would give judges more control over their own docket.
Chronic Pain Guideline Update Draft to be Published Today
The chronic pain guideline within the Medical Treatment Guidelines has been undergoing review by the Medical Advisory Council (MAC) for some time. The update draft will be published on the Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) website by the close of business today (Friday, September 21st, 2018) and is based on the Colorado Treatment Guidelines. Dr. Jason Picard, OWCA Medical Director, was on hand to discuss the update.
“There are significant changes in the chronic pain guideline, not so much in terms of substantive changes in therapies, but more in terms of cleaning up the language,” Dr. Picard explained. “There are still areas that we are considering changes to, including epidural steroid injections. We’re having another meeting [of the MAC] next month where we’ll probably discuss that.”
Director Kellar emphasized that the draft to be published on the LWC site is not an official Notice of Intent (NOI), but rather, a working draft for stakeholders to comment on. She stated that the Office would like to avoid issuing an NOI in the Louisiana Register and setting a definite public meeting until extensive comments have been received. Both Kellar and WCAC Vice Chair Chuck Davoli urged the public and the Council to distribute the draft far and wide in order to improve it and avoid “Monday morning Quarterbacking” during the public meeting, which is tentatively set for December 15th.
The next WCAC meeting is October 25th. There will be no WCAC meetings for November or December.
WCAC members present: Lindsey, Dartez, Perkins, Marusak, Stokes, Davoli, Kellar
WCAC members absent: Kruse, Collins, Cherry, Losavio, Murray, Jones, Nunley, Morris, Zimmerman, Williams