This week Senate Bill 174 passed the House Committee with some changes that preserve the rights of injured workers to have telephone hearings to get their benefits restarted and medical treatment expedited. For at least the past five years, injured workers have had the right to have emergency medical and urgent medical issues (i.e. surgery approval or treatment approval) heard quickly before the Industrial Commission. Usually a telephone hearing was scheduled within five days of the original motion and a final order was filed within two weeks of the original motion!
This was a great benefit to injured workers and helped restore them to their pre-injury condition. Physical therapy orders and medical records were considered by the Deputy Commissioners and a ruling was rendered. Thus, not only was this procedure good for injured workers, it was good for business too because it helped workers get the needed medical treatment as soon as possible and back to work.
Senate Bill 174 initially sought to curtail these medical motions significantly. However, after full discussion from both sides of the table, a compromise was reached. Although the expedited medical motion process has changed, we are very glad that this process is still available to injured workers. The final bill will be voted on by the House and Senate in the near future.
Thanks to everyone who contacted their North Carolina House representatives to discuss this bill.