Home > Uncategorized > Appeal Filed in Valdez Case – MPNs May Rise Again!

Appeal Filed in Valdez Case – MPNs May Rise Again!

Good news, dearest readers, good news!  Workers’ compensation defense attorneys often enough have to provide bad news, but today is an exception.

Bearing the hopes and dreams of the defense community, the defense in the Valdez case has filed a petition for a writ of review before the California Supreme Court.

As you may recall, the Valdez case has been an emotional and legal rollercoaster for all the lawyers and adjusters in California, as it first gave the Medical Provider Networks considerable teeth in an en banc decision before making it once-more toothless in a subsequently published Court of Appeal opinion.

If the Supreme Court elects to review the case, it will have to decide what the legislature intended in allowing for MPNs.  Was it just an effort to limit the medical expense imposed on the defense by pre-negotiating the costs of medical treatment for (allegedly) injured workers?  Or did the legislature intend to provide a middle-ground of medical-legal opinions?

It is my understanding that the Supreme Court Justices are regular readers of this blog, so I shall offer my reasoning and submit it to those Justices for consideration.

Prior to the “big reform” of 2004/2005, the parties used to retain their own Qualified Medical Evaluators; now there is a panel process that removes some of the choice from the parties.  The legislature most likely intended to do the same thing with the treating physician.  After all, the defense can create a medical provider network and the applicant may choose a treating physician from within that network, which should include at least 3 physicians of every specialty.

If, as the Court of Appeal found, reports of non-MPN treating physicians are admissible, hasn’t the applicant’s right to an Applicant Qualified Medical Evaluator survived the reforms and the defied the Legislature’s intent?  After all, an applicant with no exposure to the workers’ compensation system will likely defer to his or her attorney in terms of treating physician, and the applicant’s attorney probably knows a few physicians in each specialty that tend to… well… give undue weight to subjective signs of impairment.

Here’s hoping that the Supreme Court grants review and gives the MPN its teeth back!

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