The Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council (WCAC) held its October meeting at the LaSalle Building in Baton Rouge Thursday, October 24th.
The Office of Workers’ Compensation Administration (OWCA) is continuing to move the Medical Fee Reimbursement Schedule updates forward. Pauline Williams, Deputy Assistant Secretary for the OWCA, indicated that instead of an RFP, the OWCA will issue a “statement of work” to begin the process. OWCA Assistant Secretary and WCAC Chair Sheral Kellar told the stakeholders that they can expect updates from the office at regular intervals after the statement of work is released.
Further, the Medical Treatment Guidelines are continuing to receive step-by-step attention from the Medical Advisory Council. The chronic pain guideline update, which has been available for review for months now, will be the subject of a public meeting on October 30th. The meeting will include a court reporter to take down any comments from the public and will begin at 9 AM in the fourth floor auditorium of the Louisiana Workforce Commission building. Asst Secretary Kellar stated in the meeting that, in an effort to be transparent and inclusive, the office has also extended the deadline for the submission of written comments to the end of the day on October 30th.
The WCAC vocational rehabilitation task force, which was convened originally almost a year ago, provided the stakeholders assembled and the rest of the Council with a document titled “Vocational Rehabilitation Suggested Legislation” (see full document below article text). The document amends the statute to remove the ordered list of the voc rehab retraining options and the language indicating that the goal of voc rehab is to return the worker to work as soon as possible with the minimum amount of retraining. The suggested legislation also adds language that establishes the employer’s right to an expedited hearing and to reduce benefits if the injured worker refuses to cooperate with voc rehab efforts.
Dr. Jarred Fabre, Chief Clinical Officer with Prime Occupational Medicine, concluded the meeting’s agenda with a brief presentation about telemedicine and its utility on job sites. Dr. Fabre clarified that the telemedicine doctors (or nurse practitioners or physician’s assistants) that conduct the exams via video will only administer treatment this way if they feel it is the same as a regular physical exam.
Asst Secretary Kellar concluded the meeting with the announcement that Paula Murphy, mediator with the Lafayette OWCA district, is now an OWCA judge. The position for the Lafayette office mediator is now available.
The WCAC will not meet in November or December. The next meeting is scheduled for January 23rd, 2019.
WCAC members present: Hunter, Darr, Williams, Forte, Stokes, Lindsey, Kellar, Davoli, Cherry, Dartez, Morris, Zimmerman