Proposed amendment to PA Work Comp Act may jeopardize injured workers’ health

February 13, 2015

protect medical treatment


On February 4, 2015, Representative David Hickernell has again proposed an Amendment to the Workers' Compensation Act that would extend the medical captive period from 90 days to 180 days. This could greatly impact the quality of injured workers’ medical care. 


What is the medical captive period?

The Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Act has a medical captive period in it called “the 90-day rule.” For the first 90 days, you may be required to see a doctor provided by your employer (known as a panel doctor.) You are ONLY required to see a panel doctor if specific requirements are met during the course of your employment, including:

  • Your employer must provide a clearly written notice to you of your rights and responsibilities

  • You must sign the notice at the time of hire, whenever a change is made to the list, and at the time of the injury

  • The list must contain at least six providers; three of these six providers must be physicians


In most cases, these conditions are not met. Remember, you are ALWAYS able to treat with your own doctor, but if you are required to see a panel doctor for the first 90 days any other medical treatment will usually require you to pay out of pocket. 


What does this mean for injured workers’ health?

Raising the medical captive period from 90-180 days puts a strain on both the workers’ injuries and their pockets. Some panel doctors can further aggravate patients’ injuries because of their careless bedside manner. During this captive period, if patients would like to treat with their usual physician, they must pay out of pocket just to get quality care. 


Though most of the time the guidelines for the 90-day rule are not met, we need to protect those who do fit the criteria from subpar medical treatment. 


We urge you to email Representative David Hickernell directly at, and urge him to stand up for his constituents’ rights to quality medical treatment. 


Read the full text of the proposed Amendment here.



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