Westerville, OH – As the guest in the latest installment of SignatureSeries, Maryland Workers’ Compensation Commission Chair R. Karl Aumann shares his thoughts on cost drivers in the state’s system and offers advice on how stakeholders and policy makers can work together to effect positive change in the industry.
During an engaging conversation with Brian Allen, Progressive Medical’s vice president of government affairs, Aumann says that lowering the number of workers’ compensation claims filed annually is among the commission’s top priorities. While Maryland has seen the number of claims filed plateau in recent years, Aumann said he would love to see another era of decline.
“Employers are starting to realize that healthy employees in a safe environment cost less than the time and costs associated with caring for an injured worker,” Aumann said. “More emphasis on prevention will decrease the number of claims filed.”
Another priority of the commission is to lower medication expenses. Aumann cited repackaged drugs as a cost driver, particularly in the way physician-dispensed medications are reimbursed. He shared insight during SignatureSeries about how the commission collaborated with employers and other stakeholders to rewrite the regulation governing such reimbursement rates, an effort that has garnered broad industry support but has yet to yield any successful legislation. For now – absent specific fee guidelines – the state regulates the price of prescriptions by what is considered usual and customary in the community.
Uncertain whether or not there will be another run at the repackaged reimbursement rates in 2014, Aumann said Maryland did enact a pharmacy statute that went into effect in July. The statute requires all dispensers of prescription drugs, including physicians, to report into the state’s prescription drug monitoring program. He believes the oversight will increase the likelihood that injured workers receive appropriate medications.
“Doctors who dispense medications will now receive the same oversight visits as retail pharmacies. This will ensure drugs are being accounted for and handled the right way,” he said.
Aumann credits the state’s focus on prevention and safety, as well as the caliber of the people serving on the commission for the stability of its workers’ compensation premium costs over the past two decades. Collaboration with influential bodies such as the Maryland Workers’ Compensation Education Association and the state’s Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive and Legislative Review also has been essential in passing regulation favorable to employers over the years.
Still, he cautions that medical costs will continue to be the top cost driver for workers’ compensation. Finding ways to control opioid misuse and abuse and effective pain management are the answers to this critical challenge. Among his advice to payors: thoroughly investigate the issues, get involved early and don’t let down your guard on priorities like cost containment and risk management as the economy improves and growth opportunities compete for attention and investment.
View the conversation and engage with SignatureSeries by visiting www.progressive-medical.com/signatureseries.
Source: Progressive Medical