Oregon Legislature begins Short Session

Anderson, Kevin_webThe Oregon Legislature met on February 1, 2016 beginning a 35-day “Short Session.” In 2010, Oregon approved these sessions in even numbered years to allow the legislature to make corrections in its two year budgets. These sessions have increasingly been used to make new policy changes though.

Here are a few of the new legislative concepts which might be addressed by the legislature in the next month.

Legislative Concept 103 (LC 103)

  • Would remove “sick leave pay” from the Workers’ Compensation definition for payroll.

Legislative Concept 254 (LC 254)

  • If passed, this would change the term limits for members of the Management-Labor Advisory Committee. The committee is made up of 10 members, five representing organized labor interests (including the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association) and five members representing business and management.
  • Each member currently serves two year terms. The proposal would allow each member to serve three year terms, but limit the member to only serving two terms.
  • This would increase the member’s knowledge and familiarity with the MLAC process, but still promote having new members get involved.

Legislative Concept 276 (LC 276)

  • Known as “Employee’s Right to Choose”
  • If passed would require the employer to provide an injured worker with additional documents regarding their right to medical care.
  • It would clarify that an employer is not allowed to require the worker to attend non-emergency medical services and not allowed to require the worker to seek treatment from a specific medical practice.
  • Would not change treatment under MCO plans.

There are also a few pending issues from the 2015 legislative session.

HB 3026 – Counseling Services

  • Was not passed last year, but was introduced by the medical community to encourage counseling services to injured workers.
  • The legislature as MLAC and the Medical Advisory Committee to make recommendation regarding counseling services in workers’ compensation claims.
  • The proposed benefit would be to assist in getting worker’s back to work sooner and limiting claim costs.
  • Concerns include creating “pysch claims”, how to require a worker to obtain the treatment, and who should pay for the treatment.
  • The task force is continuing to review this issue and would appreciate any thoughts or concerns you have on this issue.

HB 2581 & SB 701 – IME’s

  • One bill (HB 2581) would have allowed only one IME per claim, allowed the worker to choose a WRME from the IME provider list, and created a random external file review when the IME/WMRE disagreed.
  • The second bill (SB 701) would have required the WCD to randomly select an IME provider from an approved list instead of allowing the insurer to select the provider.
  • Neither bill passed, but again the legislature created a task force to address the perceived unfairness in the IME process.
  • Again, the task force is continuing to review this issue and would appreciate any thoughts or concerns you have on this issue.

If you have any questions about these proposals or would like to get more involved, please contact me at kanderson@sbhlegal.com or 503-595-2130.