Mar 28 2012
This letter was witten by Attorney Wayne Mukaida to Senator Ige, Chairman of theWays & Means committee. It is his committee that is holding two very important peices of legislation from Senator David Y. Ige
I again ask everyone to please call or email Sen. Ige's office and ask him to hold a hearing for these bills; HB466 HD1 and HB 2152.
Dear Senator Ige:
I understand that HB466 HD3 SD1 relating to Workers' Compensation mutually agreed upon Medical Examinations is before your Ways and Means Committee. I urge that the bill move forward.
Every year, significant numbers of your constituents are injured at work. Per the Department of Labor's 2010 Workers' Compensation Data Book, which is the last one published, about 20,000 workers' compensation claims were filed in 2010. Similar numbers of injuries occur yearly.
A significant number of injured workers are subjected to examinations by physicians unilaterally chosen by insurers. These physicians are paid handsomely by the insurers. The physicians are not subject to medical malpractice claims because there is no doctor/patient relationship for these examinations. Therefore, there is significant incentive and leeway for these physicians to slant their findings. One insurance physician earned more than $1 million dollars from a single insurer.
Many injured workers are abused by the reports of insurers' physicians. The insurers have used these reports to unfairly deny claims of injured workers and to deny medical care. Injured workers often do not have the financial resources to rebut the reports. Many injured workers are out of work, and have lost their personal health care benefits. Many of your constituents are therefore very, very upset with the system which allows this insurance practice.
There is simply no basis for anyone to honestly and logically argue against a process which selects a fair physician. In fact, a system of having the insurer and the injured worker mutually agree upon a physician is already in place when it is time for the extent of permanent injuries to be measured. This system of a mutually choosing a physician to rate injuries has been proven to work in many thousands of cases over many years. Many attorneys who represent injured workers cannot think of an instance where there was no agreement on the selection of a rating physician and the need for a hearings officer had to intervene.
Therefore, please allow the Bill to move forward. The Department of Labor is in need of more hearings officers to address many other issues. However, the need to remedy the abuses of insurer physicians' examinations is so severe.
I have been an attorney since 1978, and have devoted a substantial portion of my legal practice to representing injured workers. Many of the 20,000 workers who are injured annually are unfairly forced to suffer because of insurer selected physicians. These workers also have family members who also suffer because this practice: household bills do not get paid, utilities are shut off, families become homeless.
The system needs to be repaired. If the concern about moving the bill forward is the budgetary concern about having to fund more positions for more hearings officers, then the funding provision should be stricken from the bill, and the bill allowed to move forward.