Applying the Golden Rule to the Workers' Compensation System

Posted By Thomas F. Martin, PLC || 28-Sep-2015

A quote contained in a recent Huffington Post article “The Pope Has A Radical Solution For The Refugee Crisis: The Golden Rule” struck me as directly relevant to how the California Workers' Compensation system should treat injured workers:

"We must not be taken aback by their numbers, but rather view them as persons, seeing their faces and listening to their stories, trying to respond as best we can to their situation," Francis said. "To respond in a way which is always humane, just and fraternal. We need to avoid a common temptation nowadays: to discard whatever proves troublesome."

Pope Francis' admonition in his address to Congress regarding how we should treat immigrants regardless of their country of origin left me wondering - is the California workers compensation government bureaucracy treating injured workers humanely?

At this year’s annual WCIRB Conference, Bill Zachry, VP Risk Management for Safeway/Vons shared his philosophy concerning the treatment of injured workers: “Treat the whole person,spend more now to save much more later, and finally, probably the easiest and most effective technique, to communicate.” (David DePaolo expanded on this idea in his blog “The Whole Person.”)

Thus, the consensus seems to be this: getting injured workers healed and back to work is not only the right thing to do, its good business. People before profit.

Don't Put Profit at the Expense of People

The current Utilization Review and Independent Medical Review machinery clearly runs afoul of what Francis and Zachary are talking about. Profit at the expense of people is masquerading as "cost savings". Physicians hand selected by the insurance companies for their Medical Provider Networks can't even get treatment that is routinely authorized by health insurance companies, or even Medicare.

Government bureaucrats are touting the system a "success", but that is true only if the measure is how much employer premium insurance companies are keeping.

I have no doubt about what Francis would think about the tens of thousands of people who suffer each day waiting for the treatment that can help them get back to work. I wish he had the time to tell policy makers in California what he told Congress.

I wonder if it would make a difference.

Categories: Workers Compensation
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