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HAP-Supported Bill to Curb Opioids, Reform Workers Comp Sent to Governor

April 17, 2018

Yesterday evening, the Pennsylvania House voted 101-92 to approve HAP-supported legislation to curb the use of opioids by injured workers and to better the commonwealth’s workers’ compensation system.

Last night’s House action was made possible by an affirmative vote on Rep. Rob Kauffman’s (R-Chambersburg) motion to reconsider the bill from a previous vote.

As passed by the House, Senate Bill 936 (White, R-Indiana) implements a drug formulary and improves the quality of those organizations tasked with evaluating treatment decisions in the system. The State Senate previously approved the measure last fall.

It is not yet clear if the Governor will sign the bill.

Pennsylvania hospitals, joined by a broad coalition of business, insurance and health voices have worked for months to advance SB 936 as a means to help injured workers return to work faster and with better outcomes, reduce the amount of opioids being prescribed, and will reduce the amount of opioids found in communities.

HAP and other supporters of SB 936 see the legislation as an important measure that will complement the work now being done to curb the overuse of opioids in the commonwealth.

Proponents of SB 936 also pointed to news coverage identifying certain workers compensation lawyers that also operate pharmacies for injured workers as reason for supporting the legislation.

Under the provisions of the bill, the commonwealth would join 21 other states that have already added a drug formulary to their workers compensation framework. The legislation identifies medications as either “pre-approved” or “requiring authorization” based on factors such as FDA approval status, medical evidence, and clinical research.

SB 936 also requires the Pennsylvania Department of Labor and Industry to rely only on nationally certified or accredited utilization review organizations (URO) for questions regarding treatment or medications that are related to workers’ compensation. This change will help ensure that the highest qualified experts are engaged by the Department and will hold all parties involved accountable for using the formulary appropriately.

“Pennsylvania hospitals are grateful for the diligent work and strong leadership shown by those legislators who voted yes to help protect injured workers from the ongoing opioid epidemic,” said HAP President and CEO Andy Carter. “Pennsylvania continues to be especially hard hit by this health crisis, and the changes made our workers compensation system will compliment broader strategies to end opioid abuse.”

For more information regarding Senate Bill 936, please contact Scott Bishop, HAP’s senior vice president, legislative advocacy, or Stephanie Watkins, HAP’s vice president, legislative advocacy.

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