One week after Ohio’s Medical Marijuana Control Program patient registry opened, over 2000 patients have been registered and retail dispensaries are expected to open in sixty days.
Employers who have not yet addressed a medical marijuana policy can no longer afford to delay.
Does my company need a written policy?
House Bill 523 makes it clear that Ohio employers, who plan to enforce a medical marijuana protocol, must have a written policy and it must be communicated to employees prior to enforcement. It’s important to note that the written policy is required for all situations with medical marijuana, including when the workplace is planning an accommodation for use.
Having a written policy goes far beyond the medical marijuana law in Ohio, however. With the current state of opioid misuse, the significant rise of cocaine and methamphetamine overdoses and a benzodiazepine misuse epidemic on the horizon, it is more important today than ever before for an employer to protect their business. And that means allbusinesses - even those who don’t currently require their employees to drug test. Without a policy in place, the employer will have difficulty enforcing a situation if an employee reports to work impaired.
Know the Law for Your Workplace
House Bill 523 does not interfere with the right of the employer to have a drug free program (including the Drug Free Safety program) and zero tolerance discipline policies can continue. Employers are allowed to ban all use and terminate employees who violate the policy or can also choose to accommodate some use, as well. They are under no obligation to hire an applicant who uses medical marijuana.
If the organization is required to comply with a federal authority, like the DOT, or is a federal grant recipient, marijuana remains illegal. Individual contracts may also prohibit the use of medical marijuana. Multi state employers should know the laws in each state. What is required in Ohio may not be allowed in other states and more than one policy may be necessary.
What’s an employer to do?
There’s no “one size fits all” answer to the medical marijuana policy question. While banning the medical use of marijuana may seem to be the simple choice, every company is different and there are some important factors that need to be considered. For example, a company with only administrative type jobs may choose to allow use since the safety risk is low. In a factory with a high incidence of injuries, banning use on all levels is probably more appropriate. In some areas, hiring has been difficult due to the booming economy and low unemployment rate, making retention of current employees very important. And, one of the hardest situations of all: the company with a Last Chance Agreement disciplinary policy. Does it make sense to allow an employee who tests positive for cocaine to keep their job while immediately terminating the employment of a different employee who is in legal compliance with the Ohio Medical Marijuana Control Program? These are just some examples that employers must consider before settling on a policy in their company.
Many employers have already reported situations involving the use of medical marijuana. Contact your drug free consultants and legal counsel to ensure your organization is making the best decision for your company.
Current training clients of First Connect: We help you work through the medical marijuana policy issues at no charge. Get in touch with our offices today!
New to First Connect? We have low fee support services that can help with your policy. Call us today for more information.
It's time for all DOT companies to ensure they are ready for the new Chain of Custody forms starting on July 1. DOT drug tests completed on the wrong form after June 30 will require the lab will be required to submit a memorandum for the record and will cause a delay in processing.
The new Chain of Custody form mirrors the January 1, 2018 DOT changes. If your company is not currently using eCCF (electronic), it's a good time to check with your testing provider about making the switch. The eCCF will reduce mistakes and paperwork and ensure faster drug screen collections.
For more information on this required change, visit the U.S. Department of Transportation website: U.S. DOT
Open Enrollment for Managed Care Organizations in Ohio started today and we’ve already received a few calls with questions. Understandably, it’s a confusing time with a lot of information coming from many different sources. The window for an employer to change their MCO provider lasts 30 days and comes around only once every two years. The next opportunity to change will be in 2020. All employers – even those comfortable with their current MCO - should take this time to evaluate their workers’ compensation program and the costs associated with injured workers over the last two years.
The MCO is a critical partner and plays an important role in ensuring quality care for the injured worker and controlling the bottom line for employers. Workers’ compensation costs can be expensive. For that reason, evaluating the MCO’s performance is crucial to the financial stability of the company.
What Does an MCO Do?
In Ohio, all public and private employers in the state fund workers’ compensation system are required to have an MCO. The services of the MCO are paid for through the employer’s workers’ compensation premium so the decision to use one MCO over another should be based on performance rather than cost.
All MCOs are tasked with the medical management of the workers’ compensation claim. The team will focus on the injured worker’s well being, ensure quality medical care and return the injured worker to duty as soon as safely possible. While all MCOs have the same basic function, some perform much better than others.
While reviewing the claims for the last two years, the biggest question to ask is if the claims history looks better now than it did two years ago? Is the premium and experience modifier moving in the right direction (decreasing)? Has the current MCO been responsive? Take a look at the most difficult claim and ask if the MCO explored all options to move that injured worker’s recovery forward or was the handling of the claim frustrating and disappointing? If so, there may be a better provider.
Size Doesn’t Matter
During open enrollment, employers can expect to receive information from many sources. It’s important to understand the motivation of each endorsement, metric and marketing piece received. Remember: Bigger doesn’t always mean better and smaller doesn’t mean more responsive. What does matter is the MCO’s performance.
Marketing material may contain many metrics and statistical information. It’s important to read the fine print and establish if the information is current. Any date listed before 2018 or without current information should be immediately discarded. The BWC also provides the most up to date information on many benchmarks on the MCO Report Card.
Know What’s Important
Return To Work: Lost time claims have a significant impact on an employer’s workers’ compensation premium. Having an MCO that consistently performs well in returning an injured worker to the job should be an employer’s number one priority. Return To Work is one of the metrics listed on the MCO Report Card. On the MCO Report Card, the higher the number for Return To Work, the better the performance.
Medical Provider Networks – An MCO can also have substantial influence on the medical costs by utilizing a medical provider network with rates negotiated lower than the current BWC fee schedule. Lower costs mean less impact on the employer’s experience and, in turn, controlled premium dollars.
Drug Utilization Review (DUR) - Lastly, choose an MCO that makes DUR a standard piece of the claims management protocol. The DUR reviews the claim for inappropriate medications or excessive use. This process ensures the health and safety of the employee and workforce and, also, controls the cost of claims.
Who Can You Turn To for Help?
If, after evaluating the current provider, an employer decides to explore other options, there are many resources to help find a few MCOs to interview. Employers should always interview at least two candidates. First, start with your Third Party Administrator. The TPA knows the employer’s claims history and management style and will be a good resource for the employer. Reminder: Some TPAs and MCOs share a parent company. When such a relationship exists, it’s best to request two additional MCOs and interview all three. While this process may take a little more time, it’s best to ensure the decision is a proper fit for the company and not because of the TPAs responsibility to their parent company.
Chambers of commerce and business associations often endorse an MCO during open enrollment. Before following the recommendation in blind trust, ask questions. Why did the Chamber/Association choose the particular MCO? When was the MCO last evaluated and what information was the decision based upon? It’s a good idea to get multiple recommendations and interview two to three prospects.
And, don’t forget the best resource of all: other employers. Employers will be able to provide personal experience and can help to understand the claims management style of the MCO.
Lastly, First Connect has been helping employers choose Managed Care Organizations and Third Party Administrators for over 14 years. Our staff is an unbiased resource in that we aren’t paid by any MCO or TPA. We work only for employers.
Open Enrollment ends on Friday, May 25th and all enrollment forms must be received by the BWC before 5:30 pm. Enrollment can be completed online or by printing off an enrollment form and faxing it to the BWC. Forms can be found on the BWC website: Enrollment Forms
For more information or assistance in choosing an MCO that is right for your company, please call our offices.
The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued a final rule expanding DOT's current drug testing panel to include semi-synthetic opioids: hydrocodone, hydromorphone, oxymorphone and oxycodone on the required drug testing panel for DOT regulated industries. The drugs are more commonly known as OxyContin, Percodan, Percocet, Vicodin, Lortab, Norco, Dilaudid and Exalgo. Employees will no longer be tested for MDEA.
As required by the Omnibus Transportation Employee Testing Act of 1991, the DOT is harmonizing with the Department of Health and Human Services revised Mandatory Guidelines on Federal Testing Programs. The change will also clarify existing drug testing provisions, make technical amendments and removes the requirement for employers and Consortium/Third Party Administrators to submit blind specimens.
What employers need to know
The HHS certified labs performing DOT tests will make the change to all testing beginning on January 1, 2018. Employers with concerns should contact their collection locations or drug testing third party administrators for guidance.
Important Note: NON DOT tests are not affected by this change, however, in light of the current opiate abuse epidemic, we strongly recommend that all employers expand opiate testing to include the above listed drugs. To expand opiate testing, contact your drug testing provider.
If you have any questions regarding this change, please contact our offices.
The Ohio BWC has extended a grace period for private employers in the state fund workers' compensation system to complete the payroll true up process. Employers now have until September 29th to submit their payroll information to the BWC.
The true- up is the final step in the transition to prospective billing and is a requirement of all state fund workers' compensation employers. To learn more about the True - Up process, visit the Ohio BWC website: Prospective Billing Information and Resources.
Just a reminder that all Ohio private employers in the state fund workers' compensation system must complete the True-Up process no later than August 15th. Missing the deadline could mean removal from any workers' compensation rating or discount programs and could result in significant increases in premiums. (see Don't Miss the True Up Deadline)
The BWC is anticipating long delays for employers trying to complete the process over the telephone. To avoid the wait, create an E-Account and complete the True-Up online: Ohio BWC New E- Account . Employers that already have an E-Account, can complete the True up Process here: Ohio BWC True Up.
The BWC has also put together a video to explain the True Up process that is available on YouTube: Payroll True Up . For more information, visit the Ohio BWC website: Prospective billing.
It's finally summer! Well...not officially but it's warm and it's nice and the CAVS are in the Finals. We're happy in Ohio - at least we are in Cleveland
As we ramp up to the start of the private employer's program start date on July 1, there are only a few deadlines and reminders.
No deadlines for public employers in June.
For any employer participating in the Drug Free Safety program beginning July 1, our calendars are open for training at your location and our webinar schedule is updated through August. We do have seats left in our June 9th Train the Trainer class, as well. Our webinar schedule, including the Train the Trainer classes can be found here: Webinar Schedule.
Enjoy June and Go CAVS!