The publication of the Sixth Edition of the AMA Guides and its pronounced divergence from previous editions aroused a controversy of sorts within the Kentucky workers’ compensation community, not to mention other jurisdictions relying on the publication for determining the occupational disability of injured workers. For Kentucky in particular, KRS 342.730, requires that “the most recent edition of the Guides” is to be relied upon in determining impairment for the purpose of calculating occupational disability.
With the fervor over the Sixth Edition, the Kentucky legislature intervened.
Study the feasibility and advisability of adopting the sixth edition of, ‘Guides to the Evaluation of Permanent Impairment,’ published by the American Medical Association, or of retaining the usage of the fifth edition of that publication. In conducting the study, the commissioner shall seek the input of groups representing labor, industry, commerce, and the medical and legal professions.
The issue was revisited during the 2009 Kentucky legislative session with House Bill 333, sponsored by B. Yonts, D. Butler, T. Turner, R. Webb, which proposed to “Amend KRS Chapter 342 to require use of the 5th edition of AMA guides; amend KRS 67A.460 to conform; repeal 2008 Acts Chapter 55.” The bill was later amended to require that recommendations relating to the adoption of the 6th edition or retention of the 5th edition of the AMA Guides be presented to the Kentucky Legislative Research Commission by January 4, 2010.
In particular, the Act mandates:
- That the Fifth Edition shall remain in effect until the 2010 regular session of the Kentucky general assembly for the purposes of its application to KRS 67A.460, 342.0011, 342.315, 342.316, 342.730, and 342.7305;
- The Commissioner of the Department of Worker’s Claims’ (DWC) shall study the feasibility and advisability of adopting the Sixth Edition or of retaining the usage of the Fifth Edition;
- The Commissioner is required submit a report summarizing his findings to the Legislative Research Commission by January 4, 2010;
- The Commissioner may by-pass the study and report requirements and adopt the Sixth Edition by administrative regulation if he determines “that the welfare of Kentucky’s workers would be materially enhanced by the adoption of the sixth edition.”