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New Maryland Workers’ Compensation Legislation Goes Into Effect

October, 2017  | By Julie D. Murray

Four new laws have gone into effect as of October 1, 2017, that impact Employers and Insurers in Maryland.

Limits on Opioid Prescriptions

The Prescriber Limits Act of 2017 was enacted to address the ever-growing opioid epidemic.  The law mandates that physicians prescribe only the lowest effective dose of an opioid.  It also requires that the opioid be prescribed in a quantity no greater than needed for the duration of the pain severe enough to require it, unless being prescribed for a substance abuse disorder, pain associated with cancer, pain while receiving end of life care, or chronic pain.  The dosage, quantity, and duration must be based on evidence-based clinical guidelines that are appropriate for the health care service setting, the type of health care services required, and the age and health status of the patient.  If a provider violates this Act, the provider can face sanctions including a license revocation, suspension, or reprimand, or a fine of up to $50,000.

Time Limit for Providers to Seek Payment of Medical Bills

This addition to Section 9-660 of the Workers’ Compensation Act requires that medical providers submit bills for dates of service within 12 months of either (1) the date on which the treatment was rendered; (2) the date on which the Employer/Insurer accepted the claim as compensable; or (3) the date the claim was found compensable by the Workers’ Compensation Commission.  However, the 12-month time limit can be extended to three years if the Commission finds that there is good cause to excuse the untimely submission. Semmes attorneys Rudy Rose, James Forrester, and Brett Lininger were instrumental in the passage of the bill and were on hand for the bill’s signing on May 4, 2017.

Fines for Failure to File the Employer’s First Report

This new legislation imposes a penalty on Employers who fail to timely file the Employer’s First Report of Injury or Illness.  It provides that an Employer who knowingly fails to report an accidental injury or illness is subject to a misdemeanor and can be fined $500.  The new provision is Section 9-1112 of the Workers’ Compensation Act.

Increased Permanent Total Disability Cap

This amendment to Section 9-640 of the Workers’ Compensation Act increases the cap on permanent total disability benefits that can survive to the claimant’s dependents when the claimant dies from unrelated causes.  The cap was increased from $45,000 to $65,000.  Of note, the cap only applies to claims that arise after October 1, 2017.  This bill was enacted in response to the case of Hollingsworth v. Severstal Sparrows Point, LLC, 448 Md. 648 (2016).