Legislative Bill Caps Employer/Insurer Furnished Medical Benefits for Injured Workers

On Tuesday, March 12, 2013, the Georgia Senate voted 45-0 to pass legislation developed by the Advisory Council to the State Board of Workers’ Compensation.  HB 154 now awaits the Governor’s signature before becoming law.  According to GSIA, HB 154 passed through four legislative committees and both chambers without a single dissenting vote, primarily because the lawmakers were aware that it was the product of negotiations among all stakeholders.

Key provisions in the bill would:

    • limit medical benefits for non-catastrophic, work-related injuries to 400-weeks.
    • Increase the maximum weekly income benefit from $500 to $525.
    • Require payment of claimants’ mileage expenses within 15 days of receipt of charges and reports required by the State Board.
    • Decrease from seven percent to five percent the interest that claimants must pay on advances from settlements.
    • Amend the 15-day trial return-to-work statute to provide that benefits may be suspended if a claimant does not attempt a tendered job for at least a cumulative eight hours or a scheduled work day, whichever is greater.

While this bill will result in advantages and disadvantages for both parties, from the Employer/Insurer standpoint, this new law will greatly diminish the number of cases that drag on and on for years, when the Claimant is receiving only medical benefits.  The real benefit to this bill, is that Medicare Set Aside projections will be greatly reduced because they will only be based on 400 weeks, and no longer calculated based on the Claimant’s life expectancy.  Furthermore, the Employer/Insurer will no longer be required to provide a “lifetime” of medical care for the Claimant’s work injury, regardless of whether or not they return to baseline status.

Leave a comment