(c) 2018 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Opioid Abuse and the NJ Workers' Compensation Act

The implementation of the recently enacted NJ law concerning substance abuse disorders was the subject of an insightful panel discussion today at the annual meeting of the NJ Workers' Compensation Section.

(Left to right) Jag Desai, MD, Nancy J. Johnson, Esq., Jon L. Gelman, Esq,
Christopher P. Gargano, Esq., Mark B. Zirulnik, Esq., Hon Joanne Downey, Member of the NJ General Assembly
Photo Credit: Margaret Sherlock
The reviewed the implications of the newly enacted NJ law, A3, PL2017, c28, that was enacted on February 15, 2017, and become effective 90 days later. That Act requires health insurance coverage for the treatment of substance abuse disorders. It places certain restrictions on the prescription of opioid and certain other drugs. The law mandates abuse educational programs.

It became obvious during the roundtable program that opioid abuse over the last two or three decades has become an epidemic in nature and the impact to injured workers, employers, and the workers' compensation system has increased enormously.

While the Workers' Compensation Act was not embraced expressly in the text of the legislation, Assemblywoman Downey spoke of her continuing concern and commitment to review the issue further. Ms. Downey told the audience that she would continue to address substance abuse in the workplace going forward and more specifically treatment issues and integration into the NJ workers' compensation system.

Reference Material

The Ethics of Pain Management
The Workers’ Compensation Bench/Bar Conference
May 19, 2017

Round Table Discussion Bibliography

P.L.2017, c.28 (Passed) 2017-02-15 S3 Requires health insurance coverage for treatment of substance use disorders; places certain restrictions on the prescription of opioid and certain other drugs; concerns continuing education related thereto.
New Jersey State Sources
Roll Call:

Rousmaniere, Peter, “We’re beating back Opioids-Now What?, WorkCompCentral (2015)

Paduda, Joseph, “Prescription Drug Management in Workers Compensation,” Workers Compensation Issue 2016 Issues Report, CompPharma (2016)

Opioid Addiction, 2016 Facts and Figures, American Society of Addiction Medicine

The Opioid Epidemic” By the Numbers, US CDC, June 2016

Lembke, Anna MD, “Why Doctors Prescribe Opioids to Known Opioid Abusers,” N Engl J Med 2012; 367:1580-1581, October 15, 2012 | DOI 10.1056/NEJMp1208498

Alghnam S, Castillo R, “Traumatic injuries and persistent opioid use in the USA: findings from a nationally representative survey,” Injury Prevention 2017;23:87-92.

Domer, Thomas, “Opioid Abuse in Workers’ Compensation,” Wisconsin Workers Compensation Experts Blog, June 17, 2016

Geaney, John, “What impact will New Jersey’s opioid prescription bill have on workers’ comp?,” NJ Workers’ Compensation Blog, March 9, 2017

Gelman, Jon L., “Doctors, Patients and Opioid Abuse,” Workers’ Compensation Blog, October 24, 2012


Gelman, Jon L., “Medical—Medical and surgical treatment,” 38 N.J. Prac., Workers’ Compensation Law § 12.5 (3 ed.), 2017, Thomson Reuters