Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

First Workers' Compensation Bill Advances in Okla

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

First Workers' Compensation Bill Advances in Okla

Article excerpt

A Senate committee cleared what could be the first of several workers' compensation bills Tuesday, endorsing a measure that would expand the type of magnetic resonance imaging devices used to treat patients.

State law currently prevents reimbursement for open MRIs - units that do not have a tubular-style enclosure. Some medical experts claim that open MRIs are not as accurate as closed units. Open units also have a field strength lower than one Tesla unit.

During a meeting of the Senate Judiciary Committee, Sen. Rob Johnson, R-Kingfisher, said lawmakers had previously outlawed the use of open MRIs for workers' compensation cases.

"When we passed the reform, we basically prohibited the use of open MRI procedures and this just clarifies that those would be actually allowed," he said.

Johnson said he wasn't sure why the use of open MRIs was prevented.

"I think it had something to do with signal strength," he said. "My guess is we were trying to make sure that they were quality MRIs - that has to do with signal strength. But the way it was drafted, it basically outlawed any type of an open MRI."

Johnson said some individuals, such as those who are claustrophobic, can't use a standard, closed MRI unit.

"There are some issues, whether they are large individuals or claustrophobic or whatnot, where an open MRI has the exact same quality," he said.

Johnson said Senate Bill 250 would amend the law, allowing the use of open units. Johnson, vice chairman of the Judiciary Committee, was carrying the bill for the Senate's Republican leadership.

Under SB 250, the use of open MRIs would be allowed provided that the unit meets Medicare requirements for the payment of MRI services or is accredited by the American College of Radiology, the Intersocietal Accreditation Commission or the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations.

The measure is one of several bills that would, again, change state workers' compensation laws.

Last week, during her State of the State speech, Republican Gov. Mary Fallin called on lawmakers to pass additional changes to the workers' compensation system. …

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