Workers Comp IMR
The Court of Appeals in Stevens ruled that workers’ compensation IMR does not violate the California Constitution. IMR or Independent Medical Review, is the process in workers’ comp where a state-appointed, non-examining, anonymous physician spends less than 15 minutes and gets paid $60 to review medical treatment denials in workers’ comp cases, and issues a final, non-appealable decision that 90% of the time denies medical treatment recommended by the injured worker’s doctor. The Court, in an astonishing display of ignorance, held that not only does the IMR scheme provide due process to injured workers, but is better than the prior process where an examining physician decided medical treatment disputes, and injured workers had the right to be heard at the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board if necessary.
How can a system that denies injured workers their day in court be constitutional? Because the Court said so – that was the extent of the analysis. The right to confront one’s accuser and to testify is the foundation of due process in a democracy. If an injured worker can’t go to court and testify that he or she needs relief and wishes to proceed with the treating doctor’s recommendation, and offer evidence, what good is this process, other than saving money for the workers’ compensation insurance companies?
The only solution now is a legislative fix. All injured workers should contact their state legislators and ask these questions, and demand that the IMR rules be repealed.