Arkansas Denies Injured Worker Change of Physician Despite Death of Current One
Lauren Eason's Doctor is dead. Permanently horizontal. Assumed room temperature. Checked into that big waiting room in the sky. Still, despite this apparently minor complication, the State of Arkansas says she cannot have a new doctor. She must, apparently, stick with the dead guy.
And you thought your health plan sucked…..
The problem, it appears, is that Arkansas only allows an injured worker to change treating physicians once. That is something Eason had done earlier in the fall – apparently without running her new doctor, Dr. Harold Chakales, through a complete physical. When she requested a replacement for the now dearly departed Dr. Chakales, she received a letter from the Arkansas Workers' Compensation Commission stating "we cannot approve another change in this claim. We are constrained by the law."
Now, it does appear that deep within the Arkansas WCC there lies a recognition that this might be a potential problem. Alan McClain, the Chief Executive Officer of the Workers' Compensation Commission has indicated there are "administrative impediments” to a solution, but assured a reporter that “she should be able to see a doctor really soon and we can facilitate that communication...it could take six months. But that's the long end of it. It would probably be closer to three months.”
That must be highly comforting to Ms. Eason.
Eason's attorney has indicated there are over 100 workers in Arkansas in a similar predicament. Surely the state can do better for these people than a nightmarish 3 to 6 month administrative wait. I certainly do understand that the law is the law, but I also recognize common sense is common sense.
Unfortunately, as in this case, the two do not always intersect.
Editors note: An earlier version of this article had the deceased doctor as "permanently vertical". It has been corrected, since dead people tend not to be "vertical".
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