You have probably heard about House Bill 3471 which changed the way defense counsel and adjusters settle workers’ compensation claims, specifically with regard to employment releases. But the legislature has been working on other changes in the law that specifically affect workers’ compensation. House Bill 3412 is one of those changes.
Under the current law, physician assistants are only allowed to be the attending physician on a claim for 60 days from the date of the first visit or 18 cumulative visits, whichever occurs first. The current law only allows nurse practitioners – not physician assistants – to serve as “come-along” providers in a Managed Care Organization (MCO).
HB 3412 allows physician assistants to provide compensable medical services and authorize payment of temporary disability benefits under the same rules as nurse practitioners for workers’ comp claims. Essentially, this law places physician assistants on the same level as nurse practitioners when it comes to treating injured workers and authorizing time loss compensation. In addition, physician assistants can now serve as the attending physician for a claim for 180 days instead of 60 days and physician assistants can now authorize temporary disability benefits for 180 days instead of 30 days under the current law. Physician assistants will now be included in the “come along” provider provision for treatment in an MCO so long as the physician assistant maintains the worker’s medical records and has a documented history of treatment of the worker.
When evaluating the likely impact or consequences of the change in the law, the legislature noted workers who require treatment for 3-4 months post-injury must change their attending physician after 60 days which can affect continuity of care and authorization of time loss compensation for the worker.
Although the bill was signed by Governor Kotek in May 2023, the law itself does not go into effect until January 1, 2024.
If you have any questions about the upcoming change in the law regarding physician assistants and their status under the law in Oregon workers’ compensation claims, please feel free to contact me at 503-412-3111 or .