The Workers' Comp "Deep State" -- Oregon MCOs
In May 1990, then-Gov. Neil Goldschmidt called the state Legislature into a special session to adopt laws to control, what he said, were runaway costs of the workers’ compensation system.
Goldschmidt was a secretive man who paid little attention to people who disagreed with him, preferring a "behind closed doors" corporate model of decision making – gather your loyal lieutenants, tell them what to do, and declare success. A former corporate executive, the one-term Governor was a hot mess of ethically challenged behavior. But little attention was paid in those days when "boys were just being boys" and women were judged by... well, you get the idea.
I was one of those 90 elected legislators called into Goldschmidt’s special session of 1990. I was one of a few lawmakers who stood up to Goldschmidt’s demands.
Goldschmidt is long gone from Oregon, thank you very much. But his bulldozer administration carved deep and lasting ruts in the lives of many citizens – none more deeply than the lives of injured and diseased Oregon workers.
Among the gems of Goldschmidt’s "reforms" was official recognition of "managed" medical care – a heavy handed shift to worker medical care that benefitted employers. Effectively, gone were family doctors and alternative health providers from the workers’ comp system, replaced by medical "managers," known as Managed Care Organizations.
Decades later, what once was hailed as an Oregon success story has become a deep state of secrecy, invisibility, medical interference and misery for patients who have the bad luck to get hurt at work and be forced into a MCO.
Perhaps, at long last, it’s time for fresh air in the stale dark corners of what passes for medical management these days in Oregon workers compensation.
Forgive my rant, but this is personal for me. I saw the dirty inside of the 1990 special session and I still represent the victims of those punitive 1990 laws.
I am comforted that the vast bulk of my clients know absolutely nothing about Neil Goldschmidt.
His administration is best forgotten.
~ Jim Edmunson