The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Ohio Workers Comp Cuts Could Limit Treatment Options

by Brendan Coyne

Aug. 4, 2005 – With the state under fire for overpaying hospitals for medical care given to injured workers, hospitals in Ohio warned they could limit such workers’ access to health care services yesterday, reported the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The statement came in reaction to an announcement that the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, which provides workers comp insurance, intends to cut the reimbursements it pays to care providers.

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The Ohio Workers’ Compensation reimbursement system came under scrutiny after the Service Employees International Union District 1199 and the Columbus Dispatch found that the state has paid hospitals hundreds of millions of dollars more than the actual cost of caring for injured workers.

In a statement released Tuesday, the Bureau unveiled a 15-month plan to reign in hospital expenditures by lopping inpatient reimbursements by an additional 15 percent off providers’ normal prices. Currently, the state pays 70 percent of what hospitals usually charge for inpatient care. The new plan would reduce that to 55 percent, possibly saving the state $50 million in less than a year and a half, the Board said.

The Plain Dealer reported that the Ohio Hospital Association, which represents 170 hospitals and 40 separate health systems, questioned whether it can care for people injured at work if the state cuts payment rates.

Officials with the union, which represents healthcare workers in Ohio, said they are ready to propose a deal that could save Ohio $90 million a year in hospital payments, the Columbus Dispatch reported.

The Workers’ Compensation system is also embroiled in scandal that has seen the loss of an estimated $13 million or more in state funds after Ohio Governor Bob Taft’s former chief of staff, Brian Hicks, invested $50 million in a rare coin fund run by a long-time associate and Republican contributor Tim Noe.

In a statement, William A. Burga, president of the Ohio arm of the AFL-CIO, called for the state to permanently bar firms that handle state entitlement money from contributing to political campaigns.

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The NewStandard ceased publishing on April 27, 2007.

Brendan Coyne is a contributing journalist.

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