Grinberg: A Humble Wish for MPN Reform
Thursday, September 22, 2022 | 1
I have often thought that if I were given unlimited power and control over California’s workers’ compensation system, there are a lot of changes I would make.
Bow ties would be mandatory, always and forever. Judges would be powerless to sanction defense attorneys for doing air quotes when addressing the deponent as “doctor” during a deposition. Fees would be limited to comparable rates for defense attorney hourly fees.
Once the drunk-with-power period faded, however, there are some substantive changes that I would like to see made to the way we navigate our beloved swamp of workers’ compensation. So, introducing as of today, my wish-list series.
Today’s wish is a reform of medical provider network mileage rules to reflect the realities of telemedicine. Pursuant to 8 CCR 9767.5, one of the requirements for MPN validity is to provide at least three physicians ready to serve as primary treating physician within 15 miles or 30 minutes of an applicant’s residence or workplace (or only the workplace, depending on which panel decisions you follow), and 60 minutes or 30 miles for occupational health services and specialists.
What does that mean in a world where a growing number of physician visits are conducted over telemedicine? If applicant challenges the validity of an MPN based on distance requirements, can the defense realistically offer PTPs exactly zero miles from applicant’s home because the internet connects to applicant’s living room?
I would revise 9767.5 to offer an exception to the distance requirements, which could be inserted as 9767.5(a)(3) as follows:
Any treating physician equipped and willing to treat a covered employee’s injury or injuries via telemedicine will be considered as having satisfied the access standards set out in subsection (a), above.
Such a modest proposal could leave one seriously underwhelmed. However, isn’t this perfectly consistent with the aspirations of a man who dreams of unrestricted power to force everyone to wear bow ties?
Hopefully, this will be an ongoing series throughout these blog posts. But if you have any proposals, particularly those that would mitigate the destructive and poisonous effect the current workers’ compensation system has on employers, then I am like a field of corn right before harvest time: all ears.
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.