Pennsylvania Governor Wolf Vetoes Workers’ Compensation Drug Formulary Bill

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Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf has vetoed Senate Bill 936, which sought to amend the state’s Workers’ Compensation Act by establishing a formulary, or a list of prescription medications that could be prescribed to injured workers.

“The formulary proposed in this bill runs counter to the compact we have made with injured workers and does so to save money for insurers and businesses,” Wolf said in a letter to the Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania detailing his decision to veto the legislation. “The implementation of a drug formulary as prescribed by this legislation will not improve overall health outcomes for Pennsylvania’s injured workers and will not stem the tide of the opioid crisis that is ravaging every area of our society.”

Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf
Wolf stated in the letter that a top priority for his administration since taking office has been to combat the heroin and opioid epidemic, and he doesn’t believe SB 936 addresses that goal “in a responsible or targeted way.”

However, the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI) expressed disappointment in Wolf’s decision and stated in a press release that the aim of the legislation was to help injured workers as well as curb opioid prescription abuse.

“With the Pennsylvania workers’ compensation system being plagued by the over-prescription of pain medications, especially opioids, this legislation was the best route to implement a scientifically valid, evidence-based formulary to control the overprescribing of opioids,” Micaela Isler, assistant vice president of state government relations for PCI, said in the release. “Time is of the essence, as a recent study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute ranks Pennsylvania second for the number of opioids given to injured workers.”

PCI is composed of nearly 1,000 member companies, which write $220 billion in annual premium – 37 percent of the nation’s property/casualty insurance.

Isler stated in the release that the insurance industry is committed to working with the governor’s office, lawmakers and regulators in Pennsylvania to implement reforms that will reduce the prescription of addictive opioid drugs and assist injured workers in returning to work.

“We are encouraging policymakers in Pennsylvania to keep this issue on the front burner to protect injured workers,” Isler stated in the release.

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