One common problem for injured workers in Ohio is delays in getting their injuries treated. Paperwork and red tape from the state Bureau of Workers’ compensation can make it take longer to receive needed medical care, such as rehabilitation or surgery, than if the victim had sustained the same injury outside of work.
As the BWC administrator told the Akron Beacon Journal, the longer a person injured on the job spends recovering, the less likely it will be that he or she will return to work. Thus, cutting down on paperwork delays can only help workers heal faster and more completely, while reducing the cost of many claims.
This is the impetus behind a BWC pilot program, called Enhanced Care Program, that is currently underway in Northeast Ohio. Doctors in one of 16 counties will have the option of treating patients who were hurt at work the same way they would any regular health-care claim. The BWC administrator estimates that the reduced red tape could shave five to eight days off of typical workplace injury claims, and 20-25 days off of more complicated cases.
The pilot program will focus on uncontested claims and contested claims involving knee injuries. BWC expects 400 to 500 claims to be part of the pilot, which began July 1 and will last between six months and a year.
As long as it does not sacrifice accuracy or deprive claimants of a fair chance at workers’ compensation benefits, any streamlining and quickening of the process of filing a claim is likely to be welcome. It will be interesting to learn the results of this pilot, especially from the workers’ perspective.