This ought to be good news - Merry Christmas and Happy New Year.
Of course, it remains to be seen how effective the steps acknowledged by State Auditor, Elaine Howell, will be in practice. The community will need to work together to reach any level of success and there remains much work to be done fine-tuning QME recruitment, testing and report quality improvement. Oh yeah - and the med-legal fee schedule.
It's up to the community. The DWC cannot do this alone. It is apparent without a full court press nothing will work and injured workers and their employers will bear the brunt of failure.
It is very important to note one area in which proof has yet to be found in the pudding. In fact, the pudding seems hard to find. I draw attention to the admonishment from Ms. Howell regarding "written policies for reinstating disciplined QMEs or how the process will unfold if investigations are pending." (see highlighted section).
The DIR's insistence it has implemented written policies apparently has not met muster with the auditor's office. Not surprising since the underground regulations causing the "mess" began as unwarranted and unpublished "policies."
These new DIR written policies must be published to the community and perhaps hearings undertaken in advance of implementation in order to avoid an outcome similar to the previous underground scenario. If the corps of evaluators do not have full knowledge of these policies and their enforcement, it seems a stretch to expect compliance or any level of understanding when the policies cause action to be taken.
We wish all of you respite, relaxation and some breathing room (literally) during these holidays as well as a New Year worth waiting for. Stay safe, be healthy.
PS - The attached article is distributed with permission from Workcompcentral. Consulting clients are reminded that discounted services from Workcompcentral are among your benefits. Look for more information after the holidays.
DIR Has Met Most Recommendations From 2019 - Workcompcentral
Yesterday's public hearing (zooming) yielded few surprises including the quality of testimony from the physician community itself which was extremely well done – thoughtful and insightful.
Our written input is attached in two parts. The first, authored before the hearing, concentrated on one somewhat overlooked topic and one not raised until yesterday:
It was heartening to hear so many propose rather than installing a completely, new, untried, and potentially friction-filled fee schedule, that the current MLFS could be clarified, and a raise given so reports would continue to be reimbursed based on complexity rather than how many pages of records are delivered – a variable the brunt of which under the proposal would fall squarely on the shoulders of the evaluator.
The immense friction anticipated from the page count “innovation” has both providers and payors on edge – and rightfully so. Plus, copy services do not seem very eager to take on any additional responsibility.
The second point must be thrust to the forefront regardless of how the MLFS is updated. I urge readers to peruse the testimony dated December 9, 2020 for background on this issue which arose during the QME Inquisition that wreaked havoc and did much damage among the Corps of QMEs a few years ago. The main point is the Division's Medical Unit trains (educates?) Maximus staff how to review IBR requests. If the Division does this by itself, Maximus knows only one viewpoint. By definition, a medical-legal IBR has at least two such viewpoints. Since Maximus staff otherwise has only the Division’s viewpoint to draw from and given the inherently vague and ambiguous language of both the current and proposed fee schedules, from now on the Division must utilize a team approach to properly and completely train/educate the Maximus reviewers.
Back to the point made by many regarding improving the current fee schedule, readers will find also attached the CSIMS 2015 MLFS white paper entitled, “Physician Reporting in the California Workers’ Compensation System” wherein Dr. Rick Newton and his team of CSIMS members came to the same conclusion as many of yesterday’s witnesses, a position little heeded…perhaps until now.
Has the fun just begun (over again)?
CWCSA MLFS Comments
CWCSA MLFS Additional Comments
CSIMS Position Paper - Physician Reporting in the CA Workers' Compensation System
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