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MPN Revisions Open For Comments

May 20th, 2013

Some of my beloved readers will recall the case of Charter Oak Unified School District v. Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (Salvador Cerda), in which a Court of Appeal denied review of the WCAB’s decision that a physician in an employer’s Medical Provider Network can treat the applicant at any location and for any entity, regardless of the address registered with the MPN.

Well, the DWC recently posted proposed changes to the MPN rules, and that, among other holdings, might become quickly irrelevant if the regulations are approved as proposed.  The new rules, specifically regulation 9767.3(c)(5) holds that “[o]nly locations listed in the Medical Provider Network listings are considered to be approved locations under the MPN.”

But there are other changes also.

For example, MPNs will have to provide “access assistants” which will be available from 7am to 8pm Monday through Saturday to assist injured workers with finding physicians and scheduling appointments.

There is also language to reinforce that a chiropractor can only be the primary treating physician up until the 24-visit cap has been met, and then the employee must select another primary treating physician within the MPN who is not a chiropractor.

There are plenty of other changes too (about 40 pages of them!) which will have to be explored and debated in the coming days.

Employers should be wary, however – any push from “treating” physicians and applicant’s attorneys in this “open forum” period is going to go only one way.  For example, your humble blogger’s sources report that renowned applicant’s attorney, Jack Cheatum, of Whey, Cheatum, and Howe, LLP, plans to introduce an amendment to the rules by which an applicant can submit a certified document that he or she spun around three times and uttered the words “Abra Cadabra Em Pee Ennus Negatus” to be allowed to treat outside of an otherwise valid MPN at the employer’s expense.

Let’s hope we still have an effective MPN system when all this is done.

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