An Oklahoma state representative says he’s prepared to introduce legislation to further improve the state’s workers’ compensation system. Rep. Mark McCullough says the recent recommendations of the Task Force on Vocational Rehabilitation in Workers’ Compensation will be introduced as legislation in the 2011 legislative session.
The task force endorsed reforms that would return employees to work when possible as a means to both reduce litigation and control costs. The group recommended that vocational rehabilitation begin much earlier than it does in the current system and also recommended implementing evidence-based medical guidelines to identify injuries.
McCullough, an attorney, served as chair of the task force, which reviewed the workers’ compensation system and the issue of vocational rehabilitation.
In their report, the task force noted, “Vocational rehabilitation through our system is utilized infrequently, rarely successfully places an injured worker in a difference occupation, is not attractive to the injured worker for a variety of reasons, occurs much too late in the case timeline and is perhaps cynically used to settle a claim for a higher dollar amount with no real belief by either part that the funds will actually be used for the purposes of vocational rehabilitation.”
McCullough said his legislation will include reforms to start vocational rehabilitation before MMI (Maximum Medical Improvement) in certain cases and may include having a physician’s advisory council draft a set of fact-specific injuries to serve as a “trigger” for earlier vocational rehabilitation assessment.
The legislation will also include many provisions from a bill he filed last year, McCullough said. That bill, the product of a working group sponsored by The State Chamber, would turn Oklahoma’s Workers’ Compensation system into an administrative system. All states but Oklahoma and Nebraska have some type of administrative-based system.
Source: Oklahoma House of Representatives