TUMWATER (Jan. 3, 2013) — The Washington State Department of Labor & Industries has established its first-ever medical provider network to deliver health care to injured workers. Effective Jan. 1, workers who suffer a job-related injury or illness can see any provider for their first visit to a doctor’s office or an emergency room, but for ongoing treatment they must get care from a doctor in the network.
“The network’s launch is the culmination of many months’ work, and is an historic change for our system,” said Vickie Kennedy, L&I’s chief policy advisor. “The new network will help Washington’s injured workers get high-quality care so they can quickly return to good health and their jobs.”
Workers can search for providers at www.FindADoc.Lni.wa.gov, a directory that includes more than 9,300 network providers and is updated daily. L&I will help injured workers covered by the state workers’ compensation plan find a new medical provider if their doctor is not in the network and they are unable to find a new one. Workers whose claims are managed by their self-insured employers should contact the company or its third-party administrator directly.
The medical provider network is an element of the 2011 workers’ compensation changes that was supported by organized labor to improve outcomes for injured workers, reduce disability and cut costs for the state’s workers’ compensation program. The 2011 changes also included legalizing lump-sum buyouts of some injured workers, which was aggressively opposed by labor.
L&I has said that savings resulting from the 2011 changes allowed the state to keep workers’ compensation rates steady for the past two years.
Medical providers who are not in the network won’t be paid for treating injured workers, except for the initial office or emergency room visit when a claim is filed. Providers who applied by Dec. 31, 2012, can continue to treat injured workers while L&I reviews their applications. All providers who meet network requirements will be accepted. Providers are still encouraged to apply at www.JointheNetwork.Lni.wa.gov.
Those providers required to be in the network to deliver ongoing treatment include physicians (medical and osteopathic), chiropractors, naturopathic physicians, doctors of podiatry, advanced registered nurse practitioners, physician assistants, dentists and optometrists.
Workers can continue to see out-of-state providers and other provider types not on this list, until those practices are asked to join the network.