Several workers’ compensation bills have been heard in this session of the General Assembly, and a unique proposal was heard in the House Insurance Committee this week. House Bill 1777, sponsored by Rep. Mike Colona, D-St. Louis, would allow an employee who is injured on the job to select his or her own health care provider. If the employee did not select a provider, the employer would be allowed to select their preferred health care provider.
The Missouri Chamber, along with several other business groups, testified against this bill.
Part of Rep. Colona’s presentation of the bill was to draw comparisons to Illinois’ system of allowing doctor choice in their workers’ compensation system.
“Rep. Colona drew some comparisons to Illinois,” Jay Atkins, general counsel for the Missouri Chamber, testified. “That’s an interesting comparison to make given that Illinois has one of the most expensive and dysfunctional systems in the country. One of the fundamental defects of the Illinois law is its choice of doctor provisions. That’s a defect that Missouri doesn’t need.”
The Missouri Chamber testified that workers absolutely deserve medical treatment in the event of an accident or illness, and if the employer is picking up the expenses they should get to have a say in the doctor.
“Stability in choice of doctor is one of the safeguards that keeps Missouri’s system functional,” Atkins said.
The only organization testifying in favor of the bill was the Missouri Association of Trial Attorneys.