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Doctor choice in work comp cases: bill passed to expand options

Choice of doctor is an important and sensitive issue in workers’ compensation cases.

Colorado has some very specific rules that affect doctor choice. As we discussed in our March 12 post, the law in recent years has required employers to offer injured employees a choice between at least two doctors.

In this post, we will update you on a bill passed by the Colorado Legislature last week that would give employees more choices when selecting their doctors after being injured on the job.

The bill, known as House Bill 1383, was not introduced in the legislature until last month. But it was the subject of extensive negotiations beforehand. The negotiations between business and labor interests concerned a proposal backed by labor unions that sought other changes, such as curtailing employers’ capacity to substantially reduce injury settlements in cases where workers violated safety regulations.

Eventually, these other proposed changes were dropped from the bill before it was introduced. That left the bill to focus on an expansion of the choices that injured employees have for their medical treatment. Instead of a choice of two doctors, the bill calls for injured workers to get a choice of four doctors.

Last week the Colorado Senate passed the pared-down bill, which had already passed the House. But the vote in the Senate was close: 19-16. And it is unclear whether Governor John Hicklenlooper will sign the bill.

Both business and labor groups supported the bill. But many Republicans did not, contending that additional options for doctor choice are not necessary.

We will update you again when Gov. Hickenlooper makes his decision about the bill.

Source: Denver Business Journal, "Colorado Senate passes workers' comp reform bill," Ed Sealover, May 5, 2014

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