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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 15, 2012

Board Announces Regulations to Build Upon and
Improve Medical Treatment Guidelines

NYS Workers' Compensation Board Announces Carpal Tunnel Guidelines and
Process Improvements to Reduce Medical Costs and Improve Medical Outcomes

(Schenectady) To expedite the best medical care for injured workers and reduce medical costs, the New York State Workers' Compensation Board has proposed regulations to improve the medical treatment guidelines adopted in 2010.

The proposed changes would:

“These improvements, crafted from discussions with our stakeholders and two years of experience with medical guidelines, will simplify process, reduce friction costs, curb inappropriate care, and improve medical outcomes,” Board Executive Director Jeffrey Fenster said.

In 2010, the Board implemented medical treatment guidelines that pre-authorize appropriate evidence-based treatment for the neck, back, shoulder, and knee. Providers can request a variance from the guidelines with proof that treating outside of the guidelines will aid the worker’s recovery. Although the initial regulations were effective in reducing unnecessary treatment, the process became burdened with duplicate requests and hearings to resolve disputes. Through discussions with various stakeholders, the Board identified opportunities for improvement and simplification that will reduce the administrative burden on providers and payers while maintaining control over inappropriate utilization.

Northeast Regional Vice President of the American Insurance Association Gary Henning said, "This package of process improvements and carpal tunnel guidelines will improve efficiency and continue to move medical care in New York's system in a positive direction."

“These are important steps in ensuring that workers more readily receive needed prompt treatment for workplace injuries and illnesses,” Executive Director Joel Shufro of NYCOSH said.

The package of improvements will require a formal 45 day comment period before becoming effective. If the comment period requires no substantive changes to the regulations, they will become effective February 1, 2013.

The Board will again provide free training to medical providers and insurance professionals on the improvement package. The Board expects to make continuing professional education credits available for those who complete the training.

More information and the proposed regulation can be found at http://www.wcb.ny.gov/content/main/hcpp/MedicalTreatmentGuidelines/Proposed2013TreatGuides.jsp

CONTACT: publicinfo@wcb.ny.gov