House committee to weigh Farrell’s workers’ compensation reform bill

A key House committee plans to review a bill by Henrico Del. Peter Farrell that he said would make workers’ compensation more fair and transparent.

The bill, HB378, would establish fee schedules for medical services. Farrell said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the bill’s future.

“For at least four or five years now, we’ve been trying to figure out how to come up with a more transparent reimbursement system in our workers’ compensation world in Virginia,” he said.

He said the bipartisan bill aimed to be fair to both employers and physicians. Fee schedules would determine the amount of money an employer is liable for an injured employee. The Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission, with the help of a consulting firm, will use averaged data from 2014 and 2015 to show employers exactly where prices come from.

A fee schedule will not, however, cut the reimbursement rates for doctors. Farrell said 45 other states already had fee schedules, and they often tried to cut these reimbursements.

“We didn’t want to do that,” he said.

Henrico Del. Jennifer McClellan, a Democrat who is a co-patron of Farrell’s bill, said there have been unsuccessful fee schedule bills in the past. Without confirmation that doctors’ reimbursements would not change, people were concerned that doctors would not want to serve workers’ compensation patients.

“I think this bill is a good compromise to provide the stability that the insurers and the employers were looking for, but without the risk of reducing the number of providers willing to take those patients,” McClellan said.

The only opposition Farrell said he has heard of is from people who make money from the absence of a fee schedule.

“The more doctors and employers and insurance companies fight over reimbursement rates, the more that certain lawyers and certain re-pricing firms make money,” Farrell said. “The lack of clarity has really allowed certain people to make a lot of money off the current system.”

The bill unanimously passed the Committee on Commerce and Labor, and is currently awaiting discussion by the Committee on Appropriations since it could have fiscal impact.

There is an emergency clause so that if the bill is passed, the Virginia Workers’ Compensation Commission can begin work immediately. The next steps for the commission would be to begin collecting data and establishing the fee schedules, which would become effective on January 1, 2018, Farrell said.

“Two years is important because a project like this usually takes this long when there’s a lot of statistics involved. We wanted to make sure we gave them plenty of time to get everything right and get it up and going,” said Farrell.

The Commission would need two full time employees to handle the fee schedule work, according to James J. Szablewicz, chief deputy commissioner. He said it appeared that the consulting firm the bill called for would do most of the work.
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Crime Stoppers’ Crime of the Week: Oct. 16, 2017

This week, Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers is asking for the public to assist the Richmond Police Department in the identification of wayward artists that were using buildings as their canvas.

In the early morning hours of Sept. 14, four people were recorded on security cameras vandalizing multiple properties in the area of the 2500 blocks of West Main Street and Floyd Avenue. The suspects (pictured) were walking north on Robinson Street and spray painting the properties as they meandered along. > Read more.

Slipping through

Hermitage quarterback Jay Carney escapes defenders during the Panthers' 33-0 win against Godwin Friday night. Hermitage is 8-0 and has won its past four games by a combined score of 172-28. > Read more.

Challenger Day will get students with disabilities onto the field

Students from 22 Henrico County elementary schools will take to the baseball field Oct. 18 and learn how to field, hit and run the bases. The students will take part in Challenger Day, an annual event at the Tuckahoe Park Baseball Complex that introduces students with significant disabilities to the fundamentals of baseball. The students will also enjoy games, an art project, roaming mascots and a picnic lunch. > Read more.

Business in brief

Eisenman & Associates, Inc. employee Tracie Grady recently was named the 2017 Virginia Business Meeting Planner of the Year. Grady was chosen by a committee of industry leaders among 19 nominees. The award is a partnership between Virginia Business magazine and the Virginia Society of Association Executives. Its goal is to recognize the unsung hero of the association, non-profit, and business world, the professional meeting planner. Grady works with clients in a number of areas, including membership management, publication design, membership directories and convention/tradeshow programs. She has worked in the association industry, primarily focused on meeting planning, for more than 20 years. She is a graduate of VCU. Eisenman & Associates, Inc. is an association management and meetings consulting company. > Read more.

Lakewood to break ground on $64M expansion

A senior community in Henrico's Far West End is planning a massive expansion project.

Lakewood, located on Lauderdale Drive, will break ground on the project Oct. 19 during a celebration that also will commemorate the community's 40th anniversary. > Read more.

Henrico Business Bulletin Board

October 2017

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The Friendship Circle of Virginia, in partnership with the ALS Foundation, will present “A True Wonder Woman and her Superhero Husband: An Evening with Dina Hurwitz” at 7 p.m. at Chabad Community Synagogue, 212 N. Gaskins Rd. Hurwitz will share her powerful story of how she and her husband, Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz, who is battling ALS, and their seven young children maintain a meaningful relationship and thriving organization (Chabad in Temecula in California) despite Yitzi’s condition. The program will also feature remarks from Dr. Scott Vota, chairman of the Department of Neurology at VCU Medical Center, and an elegant dessert buffet. Admission is free but a $10 donation is suggested. To RSVP, call Paula Carl at 740-2000, ext. 0. Full text

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