Georgia House Bill 971, filed on Thursday of last week, does not include the authority for the State Board of Workers’ Compensation to implement medical treatment guidelines. Any guesses as to who opposed the inclusion of such language? That’s right! The physicians; specifically in this case, the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG).
Clearly, citizens of this great state (PRIUM is located just outside of Atlanta) possess bodies that function differently or somehow respond differently to treatment of injury versus those that live in, say, California, Florida, Hawaii, Kansas, Massachusetts, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, and West Virginia (all states that have, to one extent or another, adopted the Work Loss Data Institute’s Official Disability Guidelines as medical treatment guidelines, just as an example.)
The rationale of the physician community? Georgia has fared better than some states in controlling work comp medical costs. Congratulations. That’s like not hiring a crossing guard at one intersection because fewer kids get hit by cars at that particular intersection than in most of the other intersections in town. There’s still a major public health problem here – and it needs to be addressed. Just because Georgia does a little better than its neighbors is no excuse to ignore the issue.
Good doctors need not fear the adoption of treatment guidelines. It’s a shame when the physician lobby goes out of its way to protect the few among them that benefit from playing the fee-for-service game by providing care that isn’t medically necessary.
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