Oklahoma’s New Anti Drug Abuse Bill vs. Work Comp
Oklahoma’s new anti drug abuse bill should affect WC. Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin has given her blessing to a new bill that would limit the use of painkillers by requiring physicians to access a database to check on the prior prescriptions of a patient.
A surprising statistic is that 8% of all Oklahomans abuse some type of painkiller.
The national average is 4%.
Oklahoma articles always pique my interest as I am originally from there. Drug abuse of many types have been rampant in my home state since the 1960’s. One reason, in my opinion, is that so many jobs are extremely laborious in the oil and gas industry. Many oil and gas workers experience chronic back injuries.
If the bill is voted in and signed into law, this will also help control WC costs. If a WC patient can be monitored for prior prescriptions, then the additional cost of the abused prescription medications along with the lengthened disability period should be reduced sharply.
Assuming that the same of number of WC patients also abuse painkillers (opioids), then an 8% or more reduction in WC costs on medical payments would be incurred by the insurance carriers. However, drug treatment programs for WC patients may spike if abusers are identified by the database and the physician requests a detox program. One could also assume the number as being much higher for WC patients.
There are many questions about the database and how it would function with WC benefits:
- How will the Dr. handle the patient that has too many recent painkiller prescriptions?
- Will the claims department be notified of any drug-abusing patient?
- Can the patient just go across state lines to get an additional RX?
- Will this system also be available to pharmacists as a backup deterrent?
- Can the adjuster log into the same system? (probably not)
- How will HIPPA and the Affordable Care Act affect this new law?
- Can a Dr. override the system or ignore it and prescribe opioids regardless?
- Will the Oklahoma legislature also require this on WC injured workers?
I will write another article on this bill whenever it becomes law. This is a step in the right direction for Oklahoma.
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