Study Shows Michigan with Largest Decrease in Opioids in Work Comp

Media Contact: LARA Communications 517-373-9280

June 16, 2016 - A new Workers Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) study shows Michigan had the largest decrease in the amount of opioids prescribed per workers' compensation claims between 2012-14. According to the report, the 31 percent decrease was due to drops in the average number of prescriptions and pills per claim across the different types of opioids and dispensaries.

Gov. Rick Snyder has been focused on addressing the serious problem of prescription drug abuse in Michigan. In 2015, the governor created a bipartisan task force to examine the recent trends, evaluate strategic options, and develop a statewide action plan. The state is in the process of implementing a number of the group’s recommendations including further improvements to the Michigan Automated Prescription System and increasing licensing sanctions for health professionals who violate proper prescribing practices.

“Opioid abuse is a serious health concern for all Michiganders, including those hurt on the job,” said Workers’ Compensation Agency (WCA) Director Mark Long. “The WCA is focused on keeping injured Michigan workers healthy by reducing potential addiction problems.”

The WCA has also made amendments to the Workers’ Compensation Health Care Services rules and fee schedule. Beginning in December 2014, the amended rules prevented reimbursements for opioid treatment beyond 90 days for non-cancer related chronic pain, unless detailed physician reporting requirements and other processes are met.

The WCRI study, Interstate Variations in Use of Opioids, 3rd Edition, examined interstate variations and trends in the use of opioids and prescribing patterns of pain medications across 25 states. The study compares the amount of opioids prescribed per claim over two roughly 24-month periods of time ending March 2012 and March 2014.   

Opioid Graph 

In late 2011, Gov. Snyder signed sweeping legislation reforming the state's workers' compensation system. These improvements included defining disability and post-injury earning capacity, and have played an underlying role in the reduction of costs for our employers. The changes brought certainty to Michigan’s work comp system, ensuring the protection of Michiganders injured on the job and has helped put them back to work.

Michigan's injured workers and their employers are governed by the Workers' Disability Compensation Act. This Act was first adopted in 1912 and provides compensation to workers who suffer an injury on the job and protects employers' liability. The mission of the Workers' Compensation Agency is to efficiently administer the Act and provide prompt, courteous and impartial service to all customers.

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