Pennsylvania - The Pennsylvania legislature returns to Harrisburg to finish the 2019 legislative session. Among the issues they are likely to take up is HB 432, a bill to expand workers' compensation coverage for PTSD in first responders. The sponsor of the bill, Rep. Stephen Barrar (R), expects the bill to be up for a vote by the House as early as next week but it faces significant opposition from towns and municipalities who worry expanded coverage will result in a significant cost increase. A similar bill failed to pass during the 2018 legislative session.
Illinois - Recently, the Illinois Workers' Compensation Commission issued proposed regulations to implement SB 904. The bill, passed by the legislature last year, requires insurers to respond to medical bills within 30 days and mandates insurers provide an explanation of any medical bill denials at the time of rejection. The proposed regulations further require the denials to also detail what, if any, additional information is required to be provided for consideration.
California - Governor Gavin Newsom (D) signed AB 5 into law last week. AB 5, a controversial bill passed by the California legislature, would change the definition of employees to include many gig economy workers, expanding access to benefits like workers' compensation. In the signing statement, Governor Newsom stated the bill was only a first step in “create[ing] lasting economic security for our workforce."
New York - Last week, the New York Workers' Compensation Board released unexpected rules that would make it harder on injured workers seeking to reopen their claims. Under the proposed regulations, which claimant attorneys and labor oppose, claims that have exhausted their indemnity benefits or claims that have previously been denied rehearing will not be eligible to be reopened.
Federal - After not moving since its introduction in May, HR 2732, the Lessening Addiction By Enhancing Labeling Opioids Act of 2019 was finally assigned to a subcommittee for consideration. If passed, the bill would require all opioid containers dispensed in the United States to contain a warning noting that opioids can cause dependence, addiction, and overdose.
Industry News - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has released an alert regarding certain anti-ulcer medications. The medications contain trace amounts of known carcinogens. At this time the FDA has not recalled the medication or taken any additional actions but on Wednesday, a manufacturer of a generic version of the anti-ulcer medication announced they would halt distribution. Under the halt, medication already in circulation will still be available to dispense while the FDA continues to review the medication.
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