Workers' Compensation

In the event of a work-related injury or illness, the PA Chamber supports the payment of reasonable and necessary medical treatment and, when necessary, wage-loss benefits to the injured employee. However, the workers’ compensation law must only provide benefits to eligible employees with legitimate, work-related injuries or illnesses. The PA Chamber opposes any effort that could erode employers’ rights and protections under the WC law, or weaken its “exclusivity doctrine”.

New Law Will Help to Rein in Growing Workers’ Compensation Costs

The PA Chamber achieved a major legislative victory in the waning days of the 2017-18 legislative session when Gov. Tom Wolf signed H.B. 1840 into law as Act 111 of 2018.

Why the Legislation Was Needed

In last year’s Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board case, the Court removed Impairment Rating Evaluations from the law, which for more than 20 years has provided a structured process for state-designated physicians to determine a patient’s level of impairment and how long wage-loss benefits should be paid. The Court’s decision – which was essentially based on a technicality – led the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau to file for an unprecedented mid-year loss cost increase. The PA Chamber issued a statement at the time warning employers that this filing could lead to workers’ comp cost increases.  Industry experts have since conservatively estimated this action was costing employers upwards of $300 million each year.

The PA Chamber coordinated a broad-based coalition comprised of various business, local government, medical and school board groups to advocate for a legislative fix that would help save Pennsylvania employers from the heavy financial burden they faced as a result of the Protz case.  The bill we promoted updates IRE-related language in the law to address the issues raised by the Supreme Court and requires the PCRB to file a loss cost decrease, which will spare employers from being forced into paying significantly higher insurance costs.  The coalition worked with lawmakers to get to the governor’s desk before the clock ran out on the 2017-18 session.

After receiving approval from both the House and Senate, the governor signed the legislation into law on October 24, 2018 as Act 111.  We applauded the governor for taking this action and thanked General Assembly – particularly, the chairs of the House and Senate Labor and Industry Committees – for working quickly toward a legislative solution on this costly issue for employers. 

Thanks, Rep. Kauffman

Thanks, Rep. Kauffman

Nov 7, 2018 | Chambersburg Public Opinion

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Gov. Wolf approves workers comp bills

Gov. Wolf approves workers comp bills

Oct 29, 2018 | Lehigh Valley Business

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PA Chamber Applauds Enactment of Critical Cost-Saving Workers’ Comp Legislation

PA Chamber Applauds Enactment of Critical Cost-Saving Workers’ Comp Legislation

Oct 25, 2018

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement regarding the passage and enactment of H.B. 1840, significant workers’ comp legislation that provides a fix to a state Supreme Court decision in the Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board case, which has been financially detrimental to employers.  Last year, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court removed Impairment Rating Evaluations from the law, which for more than 20 years has provided a structured process for state-designated physicians to determine a patient’s level of impairment and how long wage-loss benefits should be paid. As a result of the ruling, the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau took the unprecedented action of filing for a mid-year loss cost increase, which industry experts are conservatively estimating is costing employers hundreds of millions of dollars each year in higher insurance costs.

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Pa. Chamber pushes governor to sign 'cost-saving' workers' comp bill

Pa. Chamber pushes governor to sign 'cost-saving' workers' comp bill

Oct 18, 2018 | Lehigh Valley Business

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PA Chamber Urges Governor to Sign Important Workers’ Comp Legislation

PA Chamber Urges Governor to Sign Important Workers’ Comp Legislation

Oct 18, 2018 | Tricia Harris

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry applauded the General Assembly for passing significant workers’ comp legislation that will save employers hundreds of millions of dollars and urged the governor to quickly sign the bill into law. 

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State sets changes for prescribing opioids

State sets changes for prescribing opioids

Jul 17, 2018 | Allied News

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State rolls out new rules for prescribing opioids

State rolls out new rules for prescribing opioids

Jul 17, 2018 | Daily Item

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State sets changes for prescribing opioids

State sets changes for prescribing opioids

Jul 17, 2018 | Sharon Herald

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Wolf releases guidelines on prescribing opioids to injured workers

Wolf releases guidelines on prescribing opioids to injured workers

Jul 16, 2018 | Allentown Morning Call

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PA Chamber: Attention on Opioid Epidemic is Appreciated but Response is Insufficient

PA Chamber: Attention on Opioid Epidemic is Appreciated but Response is Insufficient

Jul 16, 2018 | Tricia Harris

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement following a PA Department of Health press conference announcing opioid prescribing guidelines for the state’s workers’ compensation system.  In April, the governor vetoed S.B. 936 – legislation that would have implemented a prescription drug formulary for Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation system.  Standard in other states, drug formularies have been shown to address overuse of and addiction to prescription drugs among injured workers.

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PA Chamber Applauds House Passage of Important Measure to Address Workers’ Comp Cost Increases

PA Chamber Applauds House Passage of Important Measure to Address Workers’ Comp Cost Increases

Jun 25, 2018 | Tricia Harris

Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry President and CEO Gene Barr issued the following statement regarding House passage of H.B. 1840 – legislation that would provide a fix to a financially devastating state Supreme Court decision related to the state’s workers’ compensation system.  As background, last year, in the Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board case, the Court threw out the Impairment Rating Evaluation process, which for more than 20 years had been a fair and effective way for state-designated physicians to determine a patient’s level of impairment. As a result of the ruling, the Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau took the unprecedented action of filing for a mid-year loss cost increase which is increasing employer workers’ comp insurance costs by hundreds of millions of dollars.

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Letter to the editor: Wolf's veto will hurt workers' comp

Letter to the editor: Wolf's veto will hurt workers' comp

Jun 8, 2018 | Central Penn Business Journal

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Guest Column: Politics should not impede efforts to combat opioid addiction

Guest Column: Politics should not impede efforts to combat opioid addiction

May 22, 2018 | The Delaware County Daily Times

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Don’t bring lawyers into the fight against opioid epidemic

Don’t bring lawyers into the fight against opioid epidemic

May 15, 2018 | Lancaster Online

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Casey: Opioid crisis cost Pa. nearly $54B

Casey: Opioid crisis cost Pa. nearly $54B

May 9, 2018 | Central Penn Business Journal

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 PA Chamber Decries Veto of Opioid Abuse Prevention Bill

PA Chamber Decries Veto of Opioid Abuse Prevention Bill

Apr 27, 2018 | Lindsay Andrews

The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry today expressed dismay with Gov. Tom Wolf’s veto of S.B. 936, which would have helped fight the state’s devastating prescription drug and opioid epidemic as it relates to injured workers.  This legislation would have improved Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation system by implementing a prescription drug formulary, an approach already standard in nearly every other private and public sector health insurance program.

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PA Chamber Applauds Legislature, Urges Governor Wolf to Sign Important Prescription Drug Bill

PA Chamber Applauds Legislature, Urges Governor Wolf to Sign Important Prescription Drug Bill

Apr 17, 2018 | Lindsay Andrews

PA Chamber President Gene Barr issued the following statement in response to the state House’s passage of S.B. 936, which passed the state Senate last October and would implement a prescription drug formulary for Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation system:

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Bill would create drug formulary for workers' comp program

Bill would create drug formulary for workers' comp program

Apr 4, 2018 | Somerset Daily American

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Supports Formulary

Supports Formulary

Mar 21, 2018 | Scranton Times-Tribune

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Time to Enact Drug Formulary

Time to Enact Drug Formulary

Feb 5, 2018 | Scranton Times-Tribune

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Please support law that will protect injured workers from addiction

Please support law that will protect injured workers from addiction

Jan 31, 2018 | Pocono County Courier

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CVBJ By The Numbers: Opioid prescriptions and workers' compensation

CVBJ By The Numbers: Opioid prescriptions and workers' compensation

Jan 26, 2018 | Cumberland Valley Business Journal

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Bills seek to blunt looming spike in workers comp costs

Bills seek to blunt looming spike in workers comp costs

Oct 10, 2017 | Central Penn Business Journal

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PA Chamber: Unprecedented PCRB Action to Lead to Workers’ Compensation Cost Hikes for Employers

PA Chamber: Unprecedented PCRB Action to Lead to Workers’ Compensation Cost Hikes for Employers

Aug 16, 2017 | Tricia Harris

The Pennsylvania Compensation Rating Bureau yesterday took an unprecedented action in filing for a mid-year loss cost increase that could lead to significant additional burdens on Pennsylvania employers. In the filing, the PCRB proposed an overall average change in loss costs of +6.06 percent. This action resulted from a recent Pennsylvania Supreme Court decision in the Protz v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board case, which throws out Impairment Rating Evaluations. IREs have been in existence since 1996 and are used by physicians - in tandem with guidelines from the American Medical Association - to assess an employee’s level of impairment and determine their disability status.

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Relief sought for potential workers' comp whammy

Relief sought for potential workers' comp whammy

Jul 31, 2017 | Central Penn Business Journal

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The Pennsylvania Chamber of Business and Industry is committed to promoting safe and healthy workplaces. In the event of a work-related injury or illness, it is the employer’s obligation to pay for all reasonable and necessary medical treatment and, when necessary, wage-loss benefits to the injured employee. This obligation was codified in 1915 through passage of Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation Act and this ‘grand bargain’ has generally served its purpose of establishing structure, predictability and a guarantee of support for eligible claimants.

Employers’ top workers’ compensation priority is the same today as it was in 1915: providing effective treatment to facilitate the injured worker back to full function, health and work as soon as possible.

In addition to focusing on improving outcomes for injured workers, public policy related to workers’ compensation should also help address cost-drivers in the system. While the PA Chamber is encouraged that overall statewide system costs have stabilized in recent years, it is important to recognize that this trend is due to a decline in the number of workplace injuries offset by rising costs per claim.

After over one hundred years, it is ever important to ensure the law is being applied properly and to identify, combat and root out fraud and abuse in the system, including conflicts of interest that unnecessarily drive up costs. The PA Chamber opposes any erosion of employer rights and protections under the workers’ compensation law. The PA Chamber also opposes any weakening of the “exclusivity doctrine” of workers’ compensation.

The PA Chamber would support amending Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation law to help achieve the following objectives:

  • Promote medical cost containment without impeding claimant access to reasonable and necessary care;
  • Adopt evidence-based medical treatment guidelines for workers’ compensation based on nationally-recognized standards of care;
  • Combat prescription drug overutilization, abuse and addiction, including implementing a prescription drug formulary;
  • Provide additional tools to mitigate rising prescription drug costs, including allowing employers to utilize a prescription benefit manager throughout the duration of a claim;
  • Enhance employers’ direction of care authority, including extending the duration in which an employee receives treatment through a healthcare provider panel, the utilization of which has been demonstrated to lead to better outcomes, greater patient satisfaction and shorter periods out of work;
  • Reform the workers’ compensation dispute adjudication process to provide for the equitable resolution of claims and ensure that evidence is guiding decisions; and
  • Update the fee schedule for workers’ compensation to ensure that, to the extent possible, it accurately reflects current procedures and reimbursement rates.

The PA Chamber also supports the Uninsured Employer Guaranty Fund, which covers medical and wage benefits for injured workers whose employers do not have workers’ compensation coverage. The PA Chamber urges efforts to reform and improve UEGF, including providing its administrators at the state Bureau of Workers’ Compensation additional tools to help control costs and ensuring the program is focused on providing benefits to only its intended beneficiaries.