The Oklahoma Supreme Court struck down on Dec. 20, 2011, part of a new law that prevents chiropractors and some other medical professionals from serving as independent medical examiners in the state’s Workers’ Compensation Court and testifying in workers’ compensation cases.
The state’s highest court invalidated the provision in a 6-3 decision that characterized the guideline as an unconstitutional special law that violated the separation of powers between the Legislature and the court system that weighs disputes between injured workers and their employers. The court severed the unconstitutional provisions from the statute and the rest of the law will remain in force.
Chiropractor Dan Post praised the decision. He had challenged the provision along with the Oklahoma State Chiropractic Independent Physicians Association and fellow chiropractor Brad Hayes.
Post said he disagreed with the prohibition of all but licensed medical doctors or licensed doctors of osteopathy from serving as independent medical examiners for compensation court and excluded chiropractors, who specialize in ailments of the back, neck and extremities, and other medical specialists like optometrists, podiatrists and dentists.
The new workers’ comp statute went into effect on Aug. 26, 2011. A spokesman for Gov. Mary Fallin, Alex Weintz, said that in spite of the decision, most of the law remains in effect. He said Fallin expects workers’ comp rates to continue to fall as the remainder of the statute is implemented.