Business groups and managed-care companies in Colorado have launched a campaign to defeat a ballot initiative that would allow injured workers complete freedom to choose physicians.
Opponents of the measure say it would wipe out gains the state has made in curbing workers' compensation costs through managed care.
The initiative, seen as a backlash against managed care, will appear on the November ballot. The measure proposed by the Denver Area Labor Coalition would add Amendment 11, the "Workers' Choice of Care Amendment," to the state constitution.
Colorado employers now can designate physicians for the care of their injured workers. "Many of the providers currently chosen by employers are specialists in the treatment of work-related injuries who build in the cost and quality benefits of managed care," according to campaign literature from The Coalition to Save Colorado Jobs, a group of business, insurer and managed-care opponents of the initiative.
Managed-care companies such as Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Colorado, whose HMO treats injured workers, have joined the campaign.
The initiative is so vague it would allow injured workers to choose unconventional physicians such as herbalists or New Age providers, opponents said. The change would also open the door to unethical providers who would bleed the system as they have in states like California, they said.
According to the National Council on Compensation Insurance, the measure would add $73.2 million to $116.5 million to workers' compensation costs in the first year.