The U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy (ODEP) is conducting a “Policy Collaborative” called “Establishing Work and Full Participation as Accountable Health Outcomes Online Dialogue”. That is a fancy shmancy policy wonky way of saying, “We're looking for ways to keep injured people working and contributing instead of languishing on disability, and we'd like to talk about it.” This is an issue that employers and the workers' compensation community need to pay attention to, and to which they should also provide critical feedback. The response thus far seems to be paltry, as very little “dialogue” appears to be taking place.

And for our industry that is a downright embarrassment.

The dialogue starts with two basic questions; “How can we establish widespread recognition that paid work is a positive life outcome following a health challenge?”, and “How can we ensure that the parties with the most direct influence become more accountable for delivering positive SAW/RTW outcomes?” Following those questions are six policy recommendations that have been posted for public review and comment.

Those policy recommendations are titled:

  1. Healthy should include being able to work and take part in life
  2. Designate a responsible federal entity
  3. Build an evidence-based foundation for action
  4. Use social marketing to change beliefs and behaviors
  5. Pay health care providers for services that promote SAW/RTW
  6. Capture and make visible new, relevant process and outcome data

The project has been posted for 10 days, and the 6 recommendations appear to have generated just 5 comments; and two of those are from a moderator.

Since comments close this Friday, August 7th, there is not much time to weigh in.

It is clear that this issue is a growing concern for our government, as well it should be. We are approaching a disability crisis in this country, and changes need to be made. Whether those changes are made with or without our input is entirely up to us. Personally, I think the results will be much better with the real world advice and input of employers and insurance professionals who are in the trenches every single day.

The chance to participate is there. We would be wise to take it. 

You may review the recommendations and provide comment here.


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