March 22, 2007
Sometimes, the words that matter the most are the ones that aren’t there.
In the past, Texas workers’ compensation laws did not address orthotic devices or prosthetic devices as physical structures of the body. That meant workers’ compensation would pay to treat a leg that was broken in an accident, but it would not pay for the repair or replacement of an artificial leg hurt in an identical accident.
Senate Bill 458, which became law in 2007, defined “orthotic device” and “prosthetic device,” and it clarified that healthcare under the workers’ compensation program includes prosthetic or orthotic devices, as well as the maintenance of such devices. It also ensured that the law treats war veterans, accident victims, and others the way it treats everyone else.
The goal of the workers’ compensation system is to get workers healthy and back to work. Not treating an artificial limb as part of the physical structure of the body appears to be at odds with this goal. Well, people with a broken limb can’t work, and it was wrong to have a law that discriminates between them.