Attorney John Sexton attended the 57th Iowa Workers’ Compensation Symposium that took place on June 13 and June 14th. Much of the conference centered on providing a refresher course on the updated workers’ compensation laws that went into effect on July 1, 2017. However, in his opinion, the most important presentation was on the topic of opioid dependency.
Phil Walls, the Chief Clinical Officer for myMatrixx, conducted the presentation. The nexus to workers compensation topic was that opioids are commonly prescribed to injured workers who are attempting to get back to work. From an economic standpoint the act is counterproductive. Alan Krueger’s study on the impact of opioid dependency on the workforce was referenced in the presentation. Mr. Kruger attributed a 20% reduction in male workers due to the opioid crisis.
A recent Wall Street Journal article highlighted a Stanford University study that researched the possibility of medical marijuana as a solution to the opioid epidemic. The study debunked the belief that recent medical marijuana laws have a material effect on opioid deaths. Mr. Walls seemed to echo this sentiment and instead focused on referring patients to drug regimen review and having pharmacists consult with treating physicians.
As the fund counsel for multiemployer health and welfare funds, we have taken steps to address opioid addiction prevention. We work with the funds’ pharmacy benefit managers to do things like setting limits to how many days an opioid can be prescribed. Studies have shown that with a 10-day supply of opioids, 1 in 5 will become long-term users, which is defined as being on opioids a year later. This figure drops in half if the supply is 5 days instead of 10. Joe Day and I put a high emphasis on staying current with the trends impacting employee benefits and communicating these trends to the Board of Trustees we represent so that they can fulfill their fiduciary obligations. Contact the attorneys at Day Rettig Martin for services related to workers’ compensation subrogation and multiemployer plans.