Last night, members of the public were encouraged to voice their opinions on House File 530, the workers’ compensation bill. A few weeks ago at the public hearing for prevailing wage, only a few people spoke out against that legislation, yet Democrat leaders in the Iowa House failed to find the 51 votes needed to pass the bill. The public hearing on the doctor shopping bill was much different.
It was announced that 42 people had signed up to speak on the bill. This time, it seemed to me that those speaking out against the bill outnumbered those speaking in favor of it. While it was to be expected that the business community would be out in full force, occupational nurses and physicians were also vehemently opposed to the bill.
Jean Johnson, a nurse of 16 years who has spend more than eight years in occupational health, said that allowing employees to select their own doctors will simply delay treatment. She pointed out that many general practice physicians do not keep space open on their calendar in case someone calls. She said this leaves the injured employee with three options. First, they could wait three to six days to get in with their doctor who will most likely refer them to a specialist. Second, the injured worker could go to a walk-in clinic to seek care from someone who they don’t know, and who will probably refer them back to their general practice physician. Third, they could visit the emergency room, which is the most costly option by far.
Both the business owners and health care professionals kept reiterating that there is no need to overhaul a system that provides good services to injured workers at a reasonable cost to employers. As for the some of the stories about inadequate care given to some injured workers, many of the people speaking against the bill said that some people abuse the system, and those who do should be punished or investigated by the workers’ compensation commissioner.
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