The U.S. Department of Labor's Office of Workers' Compensation Programs (OWCP) Division of Federal Employees' Compensation (DFEC) has re-affirmed its award of a contract to Coventry Health Care Workers' Compensation Inc. that will allow the program to implement changes that improve and expand medication safety and quality initiatives for injured federal workers. The Department is committed to fighting the effects of opioid misuse for federal workers.
Over the next year, numerous new, modern, and convenient features will be available for injured workers, prescribers, pharmacies and Department staff. The following highlights just a few of those features. Injured workers will have increased access to medications through a vast network of pharmacies and the ability to search for their medication authorization status through a web portal. A prior authorization portal will also be available for prescribers to assist them with getting medications approved. Department staff will gain access to better knowledge of the medications prescribed through a web-based system that details injured workers' medication regimens and provides clinical recommendations about each case.
At the point of sale, real-time safety checks will notify the dispensing pharmacist of any major safety precautions such as allergy warnings, drug-to-drug interactions, max dosages, duplications of therapy and other considerations. These safety checks can automatically prevent harmful prescriptions from being dispensed.
With a larger team of pharmacists and nurses available through Coventry, the Department will now have the ability to review an expanded list of injured worker medication profiles, and to perform outreach to prescribers. To date, this intensive outreach has only been available to a group of injured workers prescribed opioids at a high dosage. This will allow injured federal workers to receive the best possible medication regimens for their needs.
With Coventry's expertise, the Department will achieve all of this and reduce the costs charged to federal agencies for prescription medications. The Department anticipates millions of dollars in annual savings for the federal government, accomplished through paying lower prices for each medication, from the safety and quality improvement initiatives, from industry-proven strategies, such as leveraging the use of generic medications over brand name medications, and through the detection of fraud, waste, and abuse.
"Today is a very encouraging day for the effective treatment of injured federal workers," said Acting Secretary of Labor Patrick Pizzella. "We have made significant improvements in reducing opioid use, and will now have additional tools necessary to expand efforts to improve the safety and quality of medication delivery for all injured federal workers, while also being good stewards of taxpayer dollars."
DFEC provides wage replacement benefits, medical benefits, vocational rehabilitation, and other benefits to federal workers who experience work-related injury or occupational disease. The workers' compensation healthcare costs for federal injured workers, including the work to be performed under Coventry's contract as well as other services, averages nearly $1 billion annually.