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Health care reform stalling return-to-work advancement

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Congress' attempt to overhaul healthcare has stalled purchases of new medical equipment and research into procedures that could eventually help disabled employees return to work, a source told Comp Time.

It remains unknown just how the final healthcare legislation Congress is considering will impact workers compensation.

But medical providers, including those that treat work comp injuries, are not taking any chances in case a final healthcare reform bill eliminates some of their business, said Mark Noonan, a managing principal at Integro Insurance Brokers Ltd.

So the medical providers are holding off on investing in “next generation” medical equipment including some that would be used to treat work-related injuries. They are also not spending on research that could lead to improved treatments that help injured workers return to their jobs, Mr. Noonan said.

That means healthcare overhaul efforts are causing economic stagnation and will contribute to injury severity over the long term, Mr. Noonan said.

Simultaneously, employers hindered by the recession are not spending their limited resources developing new process that could reduce worker injuries, Mr. Noonan added.

Because of the economy pharmacy benefit managers and “vendors that support either the diagnosis process, the treatment process, or the return-to-work process” have seen their sales slow, Mr. Noonan said. So they are not investing in research or process improvements either.

Comp Time finds Mr. Noonan's theory very interesting and certainly logical. Anyone disagree?