On October 24, 2018, Governor Wolf signed into law House Bill 1840, referred to by some as “The Protz Fix”.
This new law is supposed to “fix” the section of the Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act that the PA Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional in Protz v. WCAB (Derry Area School District).
While this new law appears to be less favorable to employers and insurers than the original provisions pursuant to Act 57, it does reinstate, with modifications, the use of Impairment Rating Evaluations (IRE’s) which were previously deemed unconstitutional by the PA Supreme Court.
“The Protz Fix” establishes the following:
- The provisions of the law are to be effective immediately.
- Through the use of IRE’s, benefits can be changed from total disability to permanent partial disability if the whole-body impairment is less than 35 percent. This impairment rating threshold is down from the previous level of less than 50 percent.
- The Impairment Ratings must be performed using the Sixth Edition of the AMA Guide to the Level of Permanent Impairment.
The PCRB now has 90 days to calculate the anticipated savings that will be realized by “The Protz Fix”. In February 2018, the PCRB increased the loss cost rates by 6.06% to account for the additional costs associated with Protz and the elimination of IRE’s. The PCRB is now expected to give back a very high percentage of that increase in light of the restoration of IRE’s.