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Bill could reinstate impairment rating evaluations in Pennsylvania

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A bill that could bring impairment ratings evaluations back into Pennsylvania’s workers compensation system — a practice deemed unconstitutional by the state’s highest court — is now working its way through the state’s House of Representatives. 

House Bill 1840, sponsored by Rep. Rob Kauffman, R-Franklin, was introduced Oct. 2 and was sent to the Labor & Industry Committee, of which Rep. Kauffman is chairman, according to the state’s website. 

In June, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court struck down the state’s impairment rating evaluation process as unconstitutional, ruling that the “General Assembly unconstitutionally delegated to the American Medical Association the authority to establish criteria for evaluating permanent impairment.”

Under the previous system, employers could request an impairment evaluation where a physician determines the degree of an injured employee’s impairment under the Pennsylvania Workers Compensation Act. The provision in the state’s workers comp act required physicians to apply the methodology from the American Medical Association “Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment.” That law had been in place since 1996.

The proposed law would reinstate the 104-week permanent disability marker for when an insurer can request an impairment rating evaluation. 

According to a draft of the bill: “If such determination results in an impairment rating that meets a threshold impairment rating that is equal to or greater than fifty per centum impairment under the most recent edition of the American Medical Association ‘Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment,’ the employee shall be presumed to be totally disabled and shall continue to receive total disability compensation benefits under clause (a). If such determination results in an impairment rating less than fifty per centum impairment under the most recent edition of the American Medical Association ‘Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment,’ the employee shall then receive partial disability benefits under clause (b): Provided, however, that no reduction shall be made until sixty days' notice of modification is given.”