by Jennifer M. Smith, Esq.

The Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation 2015 Rules, which went into effect on July 1, 2015, included several changes. Two of particular significance involve pre-payments for IMEs and the panel of physician requirements.

• Pre-Payment of Claimant’s IME allowed up to $1,200: Rule 202 (b) was amended to allow pre-payment up to $1,200 for the claimant’s IME. This covers the first two hours of the IME at $600 per hour per the Fee Schedule, which can include time to review medical records. Beyond the two hours, the Fee Schedule allows $150 for each additional 15 minutes. Payment for any additional charges are due within 30 days of receipt of both the report and charges by the employer/insurer.

• Panel of Physicians no longer required to have 6 non-associated physicians: Rule 201(a)(1) was amended to remove the requirement that panels of physicians consist of only non-associated physicians. This is important as physician groups continue to merge with health systems, particularly in rural areas, making it difficult to include only non-associated groups. Now, the rule simply states that the panel consists of “at least six physicians or profession associations or corporations of physicians who are reasonably accessible to the employees, but is not limited to the minimum of six.”

In addition to the changes above, other changes include the re-writing and re-organization of Rehabilitation Services Rule 200.1, parties must receive permission to record conversations with judges, claimant’s attorneys who withdraw representation must provide the claimant’s current contact information and self-insured governmental entities are required to purchase excess insurance.

To review the complete set of rules from the State Board website, as well as a summary of all the changes, click here.