Under current law, employers are obliged to establish Utililzation Review panels whose purpose is to review, approve, modify, or deny diagnostic and/or treatment recommendations -- some doctors are felt to have a penchant for the task. Other doctors sometimes see these UR doctors as URDS (Utilization Review Denial Specialists).
AB 1107 (Chu and Reyes) would take away some of the unbridled authority now enjoyed by UR panels. For instance, some of the denials seem outright arbitrary from the getgo -- physical therapy has a limit of 24 sessions per injury but there are no peer reviewed studies that show 24 as a reasonable cut off limit. It is widely accepted that the limit of 24 is based on economics and has nothing to do with science or medical treatment.
Legislators who are often not familiar with health and safety issues may not know that Utilization Review doctors do not interview or examine the patients on whom their decisions fall. Patients are often astonished that this practice governs their lives and access to treatment. Patients usually believe that their doctors make the medical decisions -- in fact, they do, but Utilization Review is allowed under the law to unmake these decisions.
So here is what AB 1107 would do:
1) AB 1107 would make medical treatment that is prescribed by a PTP (primary treating physician) no longer subject to Section 4610 or subject to dispute on the grounds of medical necessity
a) if the employee suffers from a serious chronic condition, or
b) if the requested treatment has been previously authorized by the employer and if the employer fails to establish that the treatment is no longer indicated, or
c) if the employer has established a medical provider network pursuant to Sec. 4616, and that
d) if there is a dispute the appeals board shall resolve the dispute, and that
e) the employer is not precluded from objecting to a treatment protocol on grounds other than medical necessity.
While this legislation does not carry a Duty of Care provision, a provision that makes PTPs and UR doctors equally responsible under the law for their decisions, it carries enough clout to modify the sometimes arbitrary and arrogant conduct of the Utilization Review system.
An Aye vote is warranted.
Utilization Review Physicians May Owe Duty of Care to Applicants, King vs. Comp Partners,, 2016, 243 Cal. App. 4th 685, Mullen and Filippi
Ten Years Ago: Out-of-State Evaluators Questioned, September 2018, 46 CWCR
All is Not Well in California and Hawaii, 14 Feb 2019, workcompcentral column, Weinmann
Duty of Care vs. Utilization Review, 2018-10-30, workcompcentral column, Weinmann