HOT ISSUE: THE RBRVS FEE SCHEDULE IN WORKERS COMP
SB 923 (De Leon) will increase fees to primary treating physicians while reducing payment to specialists. The sponsor of the bill is USHealthWorks (USHW). Ron Kent, MD, neurologist, spoke at the Insurance Committee hearing and said that close to 80% of neurologists stopped treating injured workers in states that adopted the RBRVS schedule. Stuart Bussey, MD, JD, primary practice physician, speaking at the same committee hearing, said "Even though I'm a primary care doctor and I would get a boost from this, losing access to orthopedic surgeons, neurologists and cardiologists, I'll be cutting my own throat." Bussey then pointed out that without access to specialists the primary treating physician could find himself holding the malpractice bag.
By contrast, workcompcentral reported that Andy Parker, MD, Vice President of USHW, reported that he has not seen any access issues because of the RBRVS fee schedule. Did Dr. Parker pay attention when Dr. Kent and Dr. Bussey testified or did he ignore their testimony?
A further question that merits investigation is the extent to which non-physician corporate ownership, even if only partial, dictates how USHW functions as an entity providing medical care to injured workers. My understanding is that there are two entities, a management company and a medical group. One of the non-physician owners of the management company is Daniel Crowley.
PTPs or primary treating physicians are responsible for getting specialty consultation and care for injured workers, but, as Dr. Bussey indicated, that can't be done if they've left the program. It can't be done, as Dr. Kent indicated, if the majority of neurologists and other specialists quit accepting injured workers as patients.
The extent to which non-physician corporate ownership through the management company plays a role in how the medical group dispenses services is a reasonable area to explore further.