Recalling his favorite game growing up, to relieve any tension in the room, Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (BWC) Administrator Steve Buehrer told stakeholders yesterday the biggest problem with today’s workers’ compensation system is “the guy with the most marbles wins.” Buehrer’s comments came during the “Improving Workers’ Compensation Medical Care in Ohio” forum hosted by BWC. All of the major parties with interests in workers’ compensation were represented, including the Ohio Chamber of Commerce and other businesses groups, labor groups, and those with first-hand experience navigating the system.
“The system still rewards volume rather than value of services rendered,” explained Buehrer, referencing Ohio’s trail of workers compensation claims, the longest in the country. Instead, he suggested that it should focus on evidence-based treatment guidelines that give injured workers more information on quality providers and empower managed care organizations (MCOs) to coordinate care.
The forum also hosted presentations and panel discussions that included Allard Dembe, Chair, OSU’s Center for Health Outcomes, Policy, & Evaluation Studies; Dr. Thomas Wickizer, Chair, OSU’s Division of Health Services Management & Policy; Medicaid Director Greg Moody; Eric Burkland, Ohio Manufacturers’ Association; Tim Buxton, United Steelworkers District 1; Dr. David Kessler, CompManagement Health Systems Inc.; and Dr. Eric Schaub, Chief of Occupational Medicine, Wexner Medical Center. Some notable recommendations included delivering prompt care with fewer barriers to the injured worker, holding medical providers accountable for quality of care, ensuring effective MCO care management and coordination, adopting evidence-based standards of care, addressing non-work related injuries like diabetes, and experimenting with modern payment models that encourage ideal clinical pathways.
“The take-home message: genuine collaboration among stakeholders is critical,” said Dr. Wickizer. Buehrer and the BWC should be proud of their efforts that successfully brought a diverse group together to build consensus on reforming the workers’ compensation system in Ohio. The Chamber looks forward to working with the BWC on any proposals that result from this discussion which allow injured workers to return to work faster through better care and create a more effective and less costly system overall.