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Okla. House passes workers comp reform bill

Posted On: Mar. 14, 2019 1:00 PM CST

Oklahoma first responders

The Oklahoma House of Representatives passed legislation that expands workers compensation coverage for first responders, limits continuing medical maintenance awards and requires employers to pay for drug treatment.

H.B. 2367, which passed Wednesday with a vote of 95 to 2, also clarifies who is responsible for covering an employee’s injuries resulting from cumulative trauma and makes it mandatory for providers to follow treatment guidelines.

Oklahoma has seen a deluge of bills on everything from minor administrative changes to medical marijuana compensability to balance limits on the state’s guaranty fund.

The House bill, sponsored by Chris Kannady, R-Oklahoma City, loosens the state’s restrictions on mental-only compensation claims to allow for coverage of mental injuries sustained by law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians. It also authorizes an administrative law judge to order an employer or insurer to pay for an opioid- or narcotic-dependent employee’s detox treatment, and allows for the termination of that employee’s pain management if they refuse such treatment.

For cumulative trauma injuries, the legislation stipulates that the last employer and its insurer, where the worker was “injuriously exposed to the trauma” for a period of at least 90 days, is liable for the entire cost of the injury.

Finally, the bill also makes it mandatory for workers comp physicians to follow the Official Disability Guidelines for treatment and requires the commission to approve an updated fee schedule by Dec. 31, 2019, that includes a 5% increase for each reimbursement code.