Senator Scott Hutchinson issued the following statement on Governor Tom Wolf’s veto of Senate Bill 936, which would have required the Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry to adopt an evidence-based nationally recognized drug formulary for Pennsylvania’s Workers’ Compensation program.
SB 936, which was approved by the House of Representatives on April 16, 2018, and by the Senate on October 25, 2017, would have reduced the over-prescription of opioid painkillers by setting evidence-based standards for the medication that can be prescribed for a Workers’ Comp patient. Such formulary provisions already exist in the Medicare and Medicaid programs and are commonplace in other health insurance policies. In addition, the legislation would have eliminated payments for overpriced, unproven pain creams.
The legislation also addressed ethical problems illustrated in a Philadelphia newspaper article. Some law firms that specialize in Workers’ Compensation have their own pharmacies. This allows them to refer clients to doctors with which they have referral agreements and, in turn, the doctors write prescriptions and send them to the pharmacy the firm owns.
“I am extremely disappointed that the Governor vetoed this timely and important bill. For all of the talk of the declared Opioid emergency, this veto shut down immediate nationally recognized steps to curb opioid abuse and supplanted it with the vague premise and promise of ‘executive action’ in the future,” Senator Hutchinson said. “Many states including California and New York have adopted similar drug formularies in their Workers Compensation programs. This is another case, in what has become a disturbing trend in the Commonwealth, of unilateral action derailing the efforts of Pennsylvania’s elected legislators. It is truly unfortunate that partisan politics stand in the way of needed reforms that would have protected workers, lowered costs and addressed in part our ongoing opioid crisis.”
Contact: Justin Leventry (717) 787-9684.