New Workers’ Comp Bill from Legislature in Light of Governor Wolf’s Veto of Their Last Effort

by Karl Voigt

April of this year saw Governor Wolf’s veto of Senate Bill 936, which called for a drug formulary for treatment of injured workers. This was a victory for injured workers. Advocates of the formulary claimed that it would have addressed the opioid epidemic and the high cost of compound creams. Opponents maintained that it would hinder doctors from treating their patients in the best way possible. Now, just weeks after that veto, the legislature has introduced a new bill that again seeks to: 1) create a formulary for pain medications and 2) limit the cost of compound creams.

With respect to the latter, compound creams can sometimes deliver medication directly. Instead of a pill, a blend of pain medications often can be compounded into a gel, cream or spray applied directly to the site of the pain and absorbed through the skin. These creams can be effective, but can also be expensive.

The new legislation, Senate Bill 1187, would seek to limit the price a workers’ compensation insurer has to pay for these creams to 110% of the wholesale price of the individual medications.

More threatening, however, is the new bill’s revived effort to create a workers’ compensation formulary. Once again, this formulary would interfere with patient care by dictating to doctors what medications they can prescribe for injuries, regardless of what they feel would be the best way to treat the injury.

The text of the bill can be found here.

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