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(c) 2014 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Workers' Compensation Jeopardy: Romney and Medical Costs

Mitt Romney
Planned changes by Mitt Romney to Medicare and Medicaid will have a dire effect on the regulations of the future cost of workers’ compensation medical treatment. Proposed changes to the Federal program will indirectly impact the patchwork of workers' compensation programs by removing federally mandated fee regulation embraced under Obamacare.
Directly or indirectly, most workers' compensation programs have medical treatment and pharmaceutical pricing costs that are geared to Federal payment schedules regulated by the Medicare and Medicaid systems. Additionally, the Medicare Secondary Payer Act mandates reimbursement to the Federal, and State administered, and in many instances the Federal costs are less than the customary payments under workers’ compensation systems. Therefore the Federal programs, even if conditionally paid, result in lower payments eventually by employers and workers' compensattion insurance companies who in term are required to reimburse the Federal agency.
Additionally, the elimination of the Federal controls, that put a lid on the cost of benefits, would adversely affect the workers' compensation programs by creating havoc by eliminating the certainty of reduced costs, especially where future costs are concerned, ie. catastrophic care scenarios and latent diseases, ie. asbestosis.
Paul Krugman (NYTimes) points out, “But one thing is clear: If he [Romney] wins, Medicaid — which now covers more than 50 million Americans, and which President Obama would expand further as part of his health reform — will face savage cuts. Estimates suggest that a Romney victory would deny health insurance to about 45 million people who would have coverage if he lost, with two-thirds of that difference due to the assault on Medicaid.”
The Romney agenda to dismantle the present medical benefit program will only further jeopardize the economic stability of the nation’s workers’ compensation system. 
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Jon L.Gelman of Wayne NJ is the author NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson) and co-author of the national treatise, Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (West-Thompson). 
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