Members of the Ohio House Republican Caucus today joined the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator/CEO Steve Buehrer in a press conference to discuss legislation that aims to address various issues that currently exist within the BWC. These bills—House Bills 516, 517 and 518 will help injured workers to achieve better outcomes by getting back to work more quickly.
House Bill 517, which Representative Sears jointly sponsored with Representative Craig Newbold (R-Columbiana), strives to provide superior health care for injured workers and help them return to their jobs faster and healthier. Highlights of the bill include requiring the BWC issue a report grading quality outcomes of medical care organizations (MCOs) and providers within the BWC system—including return-to-work rates—to encourage proper competition between MCOs and providers to ensure that injured workers receive the highest quality care possible. It also obligates the BWC contract with MCOs to create a network of providers that meet quality benchmarks, as well as directions for injured workers to choose a provider focused on return-to-work 45 days following an injury.
“House Bill 517 will help to reduce bureaucracy and red tape for providers, improve efficiency of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, and allow providers to improve the quality of care they offer to injured workers,” said Representative Newbold. “This legislation demonstrates our commitment to Ohio’s workers as well as to the taxpayers.”
In an effort to address the issue of underperforming health care providers within the BWC system, Representative Sears and Representative Al Landis (R-Dover) jointly sponsored House Bill 518 to create an environment that includes only the best providers, which is critical to creating positive outcomes and will benefit all injured workers in Ohio. It will protect injured workers and strengthen the BWC by giving the BWC the authority to decertify providers that present a danger to public health and safety, protect the integrity of BWC fraud investigations by keeping investigation records confidential until the close of an investigation, and require provider decertification appeals to be made in the Franklin County Court of Common Pleas.
“As we undergo this effort to improve Ohio’s Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, it is vital that we protect injured workers from dangerous providers and create an environment that benefits all injured workers,” said Representative Landis. “Through House Bill 518, we are also providing a framework for BWC on two important issues by protecting sensitive documents and simplifying the appeals process. This legislation will help promote a better BWC system and ensure that providers are offering the very best services to injured Ohioans.”
House Bill 516, sponsored by Representatives Mike Henne (R-Clayton) and Jay Hottinger (R-Newark), focuses on streamlining BWC processes by making a myriad of changes to the BWC, including allowing state university hospitals to participate in self-insurance, eliminating the additional premium assessment for older claims where the worker is permanently and totally disabled, reducing bureaucracy by removing some requirements related to printed materials and certified mail, and permitting political subdivisions to participate in the One-Claim program, which would provide them with a tool for lowering their workers’ compensation costs
BWC Administrator Buehrer explained that these three bills will have a significant impact on the quality of care that injured workers in Ohio receive. “The longer an injured worker goes without treatment, and the longer they remain off work, the less likely it is they will ever achieve total recovery,” said Buehrer. “These legislative proposals build on our year-long effort to improve quality care, reduce government bureaucracy and create a system that promotes job growth in Ohio.”
All three bills have been assigned to the House Insurance Committee and will undergo extensive consideration by the committee.
You can watch the press conference here: