Grinberg: Sacramento Moves to Kill MPNs
Tuesday, April 13, 2021 | 1
So, are we all experts on the new medical-legal fee schedule now? While we’re all wrapping our heads around who gets paid what and when, allow me to submit to you a simple yet entirely terrifying question: Do you like having a medical provider network?
Most of the time the answer is a resounding “yes,” and do you know why? Having an MPN in California’s workers’ compensation system is entirely voluntary. If you enjoy the sound of quacking emanating from your claims desk, just cancel your MPN and let the applicants treat with whatever “doctor” his or her attorney has a wink-nod-secret-handshake agreement with.
Now that we’ve got that squared away comes the terror and the dread. In Sacramento, Assembly Majority Leader Eloise Gomez Reyes and Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, both Democrats, have introduced AB 1465, which would create a California Medical Provider Network.
My dear readers may recall that Gonzalez is the California state elected official who responded to Elon Musks’ intent to leave California over COVID-19 lockdown rules by tweeting “F*ck Elon Musk” and also drove the passage of AB 5, which severely curtailed the “independent contractor” and “gig economy” worlds.
AB 1465 would establish a statewide medical provider network that will be called CAMPN and would add Section 4617 to the Labor Code, providing, in subsection (b), that “the injured employee may choose to treat with a physician in [the employer’s] MPN or HCO, or may choose to treat with a physician in the CAMPN.”
In other words, the employer’s control of medical treatment through an MPN will be effectively eliminated, as an injured employee can treat in the CAMPN, and the employer will have no control over who is in the CAMPN.
In fact, subsection (d) lists the requirements for a physician to be included in the CAMPN, and there aren’t a lot of them: good standing, a valid and active license, and agreement to comply with the fee schedule and reporting regulations.
The MPN is a tool to keep costs down while still providing medical treatment to injured employees. But this back-door approach will render that tool meaningless, as any doctor who would accept an injured worker as a patient is likely to be included in the CAMPN.
Hopefully, there is enough sense in Sacramento to see that while one can sheer a sheep many times, you can skin it only once. Every time Sacramento raises the price of keeping the lights on for California businesses, more and more of them decide it’s time to close up shop and move on. Using the workers’ compensation system to further destroy California’s businesses is not a winning strategy to reach any sort of prosperity for Californians.
But, of course, that is just my take on this, and until there is a California referendum giving me lifetime veto power over legislation, that take is not exactly binding.
Gregory Grinberg is managing partner of Gale, Sutow & Associates’ S.F. Bay South office and a certified specialist in workers’ compensation law. This post is reprinted with permission from Grinberg’s WCDefenseCA blog.