Mediation Program Will Attempt to Get Opioid Alternatives Covered
A program sponsored by the New Hampshire Department of Labor will be used to negotiate moving injured workers off opioid medication and get the alternative options covered financially. The mediation program will use volunteer lawyers to oversee discussions.
The volunteer mediators will work with employers and insurance companies with the goal of getting them to agree to cover alternatives to addictive opioids. The program is modeled after one in Massachusetts that launched in 2017, but in the New Hampshire program, cases are taken on before and after a lump sum settlement offer.
According to the Assistance Director of the Workers’ Compensation Division of the Department of Labor, Edward Sisson, all of the workers’ compensation claims he and his staff review include prescriptions for highly addictive opioids. According to Sisson, “There is a concern for these workers.”
New England is no stranger to the nation’s growing opioid epidemic and in fact, the problem is much worse than in many other areas of the country.
In the last 10 years, the accidental death rate from opioid addiction has skyrocketed. In New Hampshire, the rate of overdose deaths from opioids rose 300 percent during that time. The rate of deaths in New Hampshire is more than double the nation’s rate of just over 13 deaths per 100,000 people at nearly 36 deaths per 100,000.
The CDC’s records also show that opioids play a major role in workers’ compensation claims. The agency reports that in 2016, 44 percent of all claims included at least one opioid prescription.