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REGIONAL MEETING RECAP

PSIA Continues to Provide Strong Legislative Voice for PA’s Self-Insured

PSIA’s Regional Meetings took place this September in both Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. Both meetings were well attended and offered members a roadmap of the legislative initiative that PSIA will undertake in the coming months.

PSIA members employ more than 250,000 employees and have combined revenue of more than $10 billion annually. Given our strength in numbers, we should have a louder voice in Harrisburg.

We are pleased to say that through our partnership with the PA Chamber of Commerce, we will amplify our position.

Prior to the meetings, a survey was circulated with the intent of gauging the membership’s interest in legislative issues and measuring the priority of the seven issues listed. We found that the highest priority issue was opioid use in workers’ compensation claims.

At both meetings, experts in the field of pain management presented their thoughts on the subject: in Pittsburgh, the group heard from Dr. Steven Thomas and in Philadelphia, the group heard from Dr. Jeffery Jacobs. Though the presentations were very different, the theme was consistent – opioids are overprescribed, especially in workers’ compensation claims.

Following closely behind the lead issue in the survey was the Tooey v. AK Steel case. Self-insured employers are being sued outside of the workers’ compensation system for long-latency diseases that arise out of workplace exposures. While Tooey litigation has been slowly increasing litigation costs for Pennsylvania employers, out-of-state employers are choosing to stay out of Pennsylvania, especially if the employer exists in the manufacturing industry or another industry in which there is potential for exposure to carcinogens or other potentially toxic substances. This hurts Pennsylvania business.

And so, in partnership with the PA Chamber of Commerce, PSIA will be providing its members with a step-by-step account of what is happening in Harrisburg, as well as ways to get involved.

Key right now is support for House Bill 18. We heard from Representative Jesse Topper (R-Bedford, member of the labor and industry committee) who eloquently presented his outlook on the bill and his position on the impact a drug formulary in workers’ compensation might have on reducing opioid consumption in the Commonwealth.

We also heard from Representative Ryan Mackenzie (R-Lehigh), the sponsor of House Bill 18, who was passionate about getting the bill passed. He told us of how the interests of the Trial Lawyers Association, specifically Samuel Pond of Pond Lehocky Stern Giordano, have taken over the discussion in Harrisburg.

Both Representatives shared that the best way to have your voice heard by your local representative is to write personally to express your position on the bill. Instructions and assistance on how to best do that will be sent out by email soon.

Additionally, an investigative news piece was published on the front page of the Philadelphia Daily News, then on the front page of Philly.com, and yet again on the front page of the Sunday edition of the Philadelphia Inquirer.

The story focused on attorney/physician owned pharmacies. Many of our members already knew of the pharmacy and the problems it has caused, but the article was the first public outing of the issue.

Publication of the article shed light on the reasons the Trial Lawyers Association may have for opposing a reasonable piece of legislation such as House Bill 18. It also showed us exactly why PSIA members need to have a louder voice in Harrisburg.