According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, the COVID-19 surge driven by the Delta variant started to recede in California in September. Nonetheless, transmission of the COVID-19 virus remains a public health issue in Central California, throughout the United States, and around the globe. With this in mind, California regulators have once again extended the state’s temporary COVID-19 QME rules for workers’ compensation claims. Below, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense attorneys explain the most important facts to know about the state’s extension of the emergency QME regulations.
California Workers’ Compensation: What is a QME?
As simply defined by the California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), a Qualified Medical Evaluator or QME is a physician who evaluates injured workers to help resolve outstanding medical questions about what types of benefits they should receive. Put another way, a QME is a medical professional who is supposed to serve as an independent, neutral evaluator to help resolve a workers’ compensation matter. Doctors must satisfy certain licensing and training requirements to serve as a QME.
Official Notice: Emergency QME Extended
The COVID-19 virus outbreak has created serious challenges for our community, including the administration of workers’ compensation claims. The emergency regulations for Qualified Medical Evaluators allowed for the enhanced use of telemedicine and virtual evaluations to help ensure that workers’ compensation claims can be moved forward and processed in a safe, efficient manner during the COVID-19 pandemic. On September 13, 2021, the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) for the State of California announced another extension of the emergency regulations which originally went into place back in the Spring of 2020. Here are three things to know about the QME Notice:
- Guidelines Were Set to Expire on October 12, 2021: Prior to the new action taken by California regulators, the emergency QME telemedicine/virtual examination regulations were set to expire on October 12, 2021.
- A Minimum 90-Day Extension for QME Regulations: The DIR is moving to extend the emergency telemedicine regulations for an additional 90 days—meaning they will run until at least January 2022. The regulations could be extended again if the public health conditions warrant doing so.
- In-Person Exams are Still Occurring: Even with the emergency regulations in place, many QMEs are still happening in-person. Indeed, some types of evaluations can only be conducted through an in-person exam. That being said, the DIR’s emergency COVID-19 regulations give parties additional options for a virtual QME when doing so is appropriate.
Call Our Fresno, CA Workers’ Compensation Lawyers for Immediate Help
At Yrulegui & Roberts, our Fresno workers’ compensation defense attorneys are diligent, effective advocates for our clients. If you have any questions about California’s emergency COVID-19 QME regulations, we are available to help. Call us now or use our online contact form to set up your fully confidential case evaluation. Our firm provides workers’ compensation defense representation throughout all Central California, including Fresno County, Kings County, Tulare County, and Merced County.