(a) The employer shall furnish such medical, surgical, vocational rehabilitation services, including necessary travel expenses and other attendance or treatment, nurse and hospital service, medicine, crutches, false teeth or the repair thereof, eye glasses or the repair thereof, artificial or any prosthetic appliance for such period as the nature of the injury or the process of recovery may require. The employer shall furnish such additional payment as the Mayor may determine is necessary for the maintenance of an employee undergoing vocational rehabilitation, not to exceed $50 a week.
(a-1)(1) Any employer who provides health insurance coverage for an employee shall provide health insurance coverage equivalent to the existing health insurance coverage of the employee while the employee receives or is eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits under this chapter.
(2) For purposes of this subsection, the phrase “eligible to receive” means:
(A) An employee is away from work due to a job-related injury for which the employee has filed a claim for workers’ compensation benefits under this chapter; or
(B) An employer has knowledge of a job-related injury of an employee who is away from work due to the job-related injury pursuant to which workers’ compensation benefits may become due under § 32-1515.
(3) The provision of health insurance coverage shall not exceed 52 weeks and shall be at the same benefit level that the employee had at the time the employee received or was eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
(4) Except as provided in paragraph (3) of this subsection, an employer shall pay the total cost for the provision of health insurance coverage during the time that the employee receives or is eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits under this chapter, including any contribution that the employee would have made if the employee had not received or been eligible to receive workers’ compensation benefits.
(5) Each provider of medical care or services pursuant to this chapter shall use a standard coding system for reports and bills generated pursuant to this chapter. Medical care and services shall be billed at the rate established in the medical fee schedule adopted by the Mayor. This fee schedule shall be based on 113% of Medicare’s reimbursement amounts.
(3) The employee shall have the right to choose an attending physician to provide medical care under this chapter. If, due to the nature of the injury, the employee is unable to select a physician and the nature or the injury requires immediate treatment and care, the employer shall select a physician for him. Where medically necessary or advisable, or at the request of the employee, the attending physician shall consult with the employee’s personal physician.
(4) The Mayor shall supervise the medical care rendered to injured employees, shall require periodic reports as to the medical care being rendered to injured employees, shall have the authority to determine the necessity, character, and sufficiency of any medical aid furnished or to be furnished, and may order a change of physician or hospital when in his judgment such change is necessary or desirable.
(5) Each person who provides medical care or service under this chapter shall utilize a standard coding system for reports and bills pursuant to rules issued by the Mayor. Medical care and service shall be billed at a usual and customary rate.
(6) Any medical care or service furnished or scheduled to be furnished under this chapter shall be subject to utilization review. Utilization review may be accomplished prospectively, concurrently, or retrospectively.
(A) In order to determine the necessity, character, or sufficiency of any medical care or service furnished or scheduled to be furnished under this chapter and to allow for the performance of competent utilization review, a utilization review organization or individual used pursuant to this chapter shall be certified by the Utilization Review Accreditation Commission.
(B) When it appears that the necessity, character, or sufficiency of medical care or service to an employee is improper or that medical care or service scheduled to be furnished must be clarified, the Mayor, employee, or employer may initiate review by a utilization review organization or individual.
(C) If the medical care provider disagrees with the opinion of the utilization review organization or individual, the medical care provider shall have the right to request reconsideration of the opinion by the utilization review organization or individual 60 calendar days from receipt of the utilization review report. The request for reconsideration shall be written and contain reasonable medical justification for the reconsideration.
(D) Disputes between a medical care provider, employee, or employer on the issue of necessity, character, or sufficiency of the medical care or service furnished, or scheduled to be furnished, or the fees charged by the medical care provider shall be resolved by the Mayor upon application for a hearing on the dispute by the medical care provider, employee, or employer. A party who is adversely affected or aggrieved by the decision of the Mayor may petition for review of the decision by the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
(E) The employer shall pay the cost of a utilization review if the employee seeks the review and is the prevailing party.
(7) Medical care providers shall not hold employees liable for service rendered in connection with a compensable injury under this chapter.
(c) Vocational rehabilitation shall be designed, within reason, to return the employee to employment at a wage as close as possible to the wage that the employee earned at the time of injury. The Mayor shall monitor the provision of vocational rehabilitation of employees with disabilities and determine the adequacy and sufficiency of such rehabilitation. Where, in the judgment of the Mayor, the employer fails or refuses to provide adequate and sufficient rehabilitation services as required in subsection (a) of this section, the Mayor may order that the supplier of such services be changed, and may use the special fund provided in § 32-1543 in such amounts as may be necessary to procure such services, including necessary prosthetic appliances or other apparatus. When the Mayor pays for such services out of the special fund, he shall institute proceedings against such employer to recover the amounts expended.
(d) If the employer fails to provide the medical or other treatment, services, supplies, or insurance coverage required to be furnished by subsections (a) and (a-1) of this section, after request by the injured employee, such injured employee may procure the medical or other treatment, services, supplies, or insurance coverage and select a physician to render treatment and services at the expense of the employer. The employee shall not be entitled to recover any amount expended for the treatment, service, or insurance coverage unless the employee requested the employer to furnish the treatment or service or to furnish the health insurance coverage and the employer refused or neglected to do so, or unless the nature of the injury required the treatment or service and the employer or his superintendent or foreman having knowledge of the injury neglected to provide the treatment or service; nor shall any claim for medical or surgical treatment be valid or enforceable, as against the employer, unless within 20 days following the 1st treatment the physician giving the treatment furnishes to the employer and the Mayor a report of the injury or treatment, on a form prescribed by the Mayor. The Mayor may, however, excuse the failure to furnish such report within 20 days when he finds it to be in the interest of justice to do so, and he may, upon application by a party in interest, make an award for the reasonable value of such medical or surgical treatment so obtained by the employee. If at any time during such period the employee unreasonably refuses to submit to medical or surgical treatment or to an examination by a physician selected by the employer, or to accept vocational rehabilitation the Mayor shall, by order, suspend the payment of further compensation, medical payments, and health insurance coverage during such period, unless the circumstances justified the refusal.
(e) Whenever, in the opinion of the Mayor, the injured employee or his employer, a physician has improperly estimated the degree of permanent disability or the extent of temporary disability occasioned by the injury or where in the opinion of such parties a physician recommends a treatment for an injury not generally recognized by the medical community the Mayor shall cause such employee to be examined by another physician selected by the Mayor and to obtain from such physician a report containing his estimate of such disabilities and a recommendation for treatment. If the report of such physician shows that the estimate of the former physician is improper or that the treatment recommended is not one that is generally recognized in the medical community, the Mayor shall have the power in his discretion to charge the cost of such examination to the employer, if he is a self-insurer, or to the insurance company which is carrying the risk, or, in appropriate cases, to the special fund.
(f) All fees and other charges for such treatment or service shall be limited to such charges as prevail in the same community for similar treatment of injured persons and shall be subject to regulation by the Mayor.
(g) The liability of an employer for medical treatment as provided in this section shall not be affected by the fact that his employee was injured through the fault or negligence of a third party not in the same employ, or suit has been brought against such 3rd party. The employer shall, however, have a cause of action against such 3rd party to recover any amounts paid by him for such medical treatment in like manner as provided in § 32-1535(b).
(h) When an employer and employee so agree in writing, nothing in this chapter shall be construed to prevent an employee, whose injury or disability has been established in accordance with the provisions of this chapter, from relying in good faith, on treatment by prayer or spiritual means alone, in accordance with the tenets and practice of a recognized church or religious denomination, by a duly accredited practitioner thereof, and having nursing services appropriate therewith, without suffering loss or diminution of the compensation benefits under this chapter; provided, the employee shall submit to all physical examinations required by this chapter.
(i) The employee and employer are entitled upon request to all medical reports made pursuant to claims arising under this chapter.
(July 1, 1980, D.C. Law 3-77, § 8, 27 DCR 2503; Mar. 6, 1991, D.C. Law 8-198, § 2(c), 37 DCR 6890; Apr. 16, 1999, D.C. Law 12-229, § 2(d), 46 DCR 891; Apr. 24, 2007, D.C. Law 16-305, § 48(b), 53 DCR 6198.)
1981 Ed., § 36-307.
Effect of Amendments
D.C. Law 16-305, in subsec. (c) substituted “employees with disabilities” for “disabled employees”.
Mayor authorized to issue rules: See Historical and Statutory Notes following § 32-1501.