PCI Applauds Measure Protecting Injured Workers and Controlling Medical Costs
PHOENIX — With the stroke of his pen, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey approved significant legislation (SB 1111) last week that will protect injured workers from being over prescribed addictive opioids and help control escalating medical costs in the workers compensation system, says the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). The bill will take effect in 90 days.
During January’s special legislative session, Gov. Ducey and the Legislature enacted the Arizona Opioid Epidemic Act, and SB 1111 ensures that the workers compensation statute is consistent with those recent changes. The measure provides more tools to track an injured worker’s use of opioids to prevent addiction and creates a process to address unreasonably expensive medication dispensed outside of a pharmacy. It also allows the Industrial Commission to review data on medication dispensing, consult with stakeholders, and adopt reimbursement guidelines if appropriate for Arizona’s workers compensation system as a whole.
“Opioid abuse is a serious problem in Arizona and it is having a significant impact on the state’s workers compensation system,” said Armand Feliciano, PCI vice president of state government relations. “We applaud Gov. Ducey’s swift action to curb physician dispensing while also providing new tools to assess opioid use. One of the goals is to prevent harmful addictions, as the over prescribing of opioids and other drugs can hamper an injured employee’s ability fully recover and quickly return to work.”
Physician-dispensed medication is also adding to the escalation of medical costs in Arizona’s workers compensation system. These drugs can be as much as 300 percent more expensive than those provided by a retail pharmacy. With this new law, Arizona will now join 22 other states that limit physician dispensing in the workers compensation system.