Our state’s workers’ compensation system is a bargain between working people, their employers and the Commonwealth. Working people have relinquished there ability to sue employers if they are injured on the job, while employers and the state ensure that injured workers are fairly compensated and receive proper medical treatment.
This agreement is one that has an extraordinary impact on those who have the misfortune and of being injured or becoming ill on the job. While many working people were not looking, our workers’ compensation system has come under attack by those who seek to reduce treatment options, enforce unattainable and unfair standards for so-called impairment and disability, etc.
This week, the House Labor and Industry reported out Senate Bill 936, which will impose a drug formulary on the workers’ compensation system. GOP leaders are touting the bill as a solution to our Commonwealth’s opioid epidemic, however, this could not be further from the truth. This legislation does not even discuss opioids specifically and does not impose limitations or guidelines on the prescription of opioids. The officers of the Pennsylvania AFL-CIO issued the following joint statement in response:
“Senate Bill 936 is a shameful attempt to make it easier for insurance companies to profit off of the opioid epidemic by providing inadequate treatment or denying coverage to injured workers. Opioids are not a priority in this bill. Drug formularies prioritize cheaper medications and forms of treatment, and might even increase the use of opioid medications in pain management.
To say that this legislation is part of the solution to the current opioid addiction crisis faced by so many Pennsylvanians and their families is a false claim made without evidence with the purpose of playing off of people’s pain to negotiate higher profits for corporations. This is a disgraceful abuse of a system designed to help injured workers. It is reprehensible to capitalize on the plight of those affected by the opioid epidemic, and jeopardize legitimate treatment for those injured on the job, to pad an insurance company’s bottom line.”