Friday, June 12, 2009
Statutory Law Changes for 2009
Here, from the Division of Workers Compensation website is an overview of recent Colorado legislation that affects injured workers, doctors, insurers and even Pinnacol Assurance (the largest quasi-public/private insurer in workers comp in Colorado. Also if you click here you can read the actual legislative changes. I notice that some of these legislative changes are because of cases that went against claimants. For example there is a change to allow psych impairments so as to get over the first statutory cap (yes there are caps limiting benefits). Another avoids the Division IME being attacked for not contacting the authorized treating physician so long as he has resolved certain differences with other doctors. These items have been ways for claimants not to receive adequate benefits. They allowed the other side to attack the claimants Division IME rating by saying the doctor did not contact some other doctor so his opinion could be overcome as not following the procedure in the AMA Guides. In another case the rating was kept under 25% and did not go higher because a psych rating was not added to make the rating higher. The difference can be many thousands of dollars. In any event the legislative changes are, by and large, helpful to claimants. Also Pinnacol has been in the news recently when it disputed the state effort to use some of its excess reserves towards the state budget. As I noted earlier Pinnacol is a hybrid mix of public and private elements. The state is going to seek more control over Pinnacol and some of this recent legislation seems to be setting up to do that. Lastly one change does seem unusual. An insurer IME must now be audio recorded which suggests that some of these IME's were misrepresenting what the claimant was saying during the examination. Regretably such matters often were so hostile that it led to making it mandatory to record the exam. These law changes are effective on different dates as indicated in the overview.