Lubbock Avalanche Journal
State Rep. Dustin Burrows, R-Lubbock, recently filed legislation designed to provide assistance to law enforcement officers in the state who are injured in the line of duty. Burrows’ two bills are designed to provide injured lawmen with a liaison to help them negotiate medical coverage with the state’s workers’ compensation program.
It’s not that injured law enforcement officers aren’t covered by workers’ comp, but dealing with the program without some knowledgeable assistance can leave them and their families with the arduous task of obtaining needed medical care and medications. Many people have experienced difficulties in dealing with insurance companies, and negotiating with a government agency can make it even tougher. Burrows’ bills are aimed at alleviating the stress of wading through what can be a mountain of red tape and paperwork.
Some local and area law enforcement officers and their families have described the problems they have encountered in trying to get their medical claims accepted. The process has often left them with more questions than answers as to why in some cases medical care and medications have been denied. That has heaped even more stress upon them as they continue to deal with their physical problems.
One of the more disheartening cases involved Amarillo police officer Justin Scherlen, who was severely injured in a traffic accident while on duty in 2015. Scherlen underwent multiple surgeries and procedures, then developed an infection that required a specific medication that cost $15,000 for a 30-day supply. Workers’ comp would not approve the high-priced drug, and Scherlen eventually died from complications of his injuries.
Scherlen’s wife, Jessica, said the family had a caseworker helping them with the workers’ comp process and was appreciative of her efforts, but she was unable to wade through all the red tape. The news of Burrows’ bills gave Jessica Scherlen, as well as other injured officers and their families, hope that something could be put in place to help future victims.
We applaud Burrows for recognizing that something has to be done in this regard. After all, our law enforcement officers on all levels put their lives on the line every day in making the world in which we live a safer place. We owe them more than any sort of compensation that can be directed toward them.
Our question is why hasn’t something like Burrows’ legislation been addressed before. This legislation will go a long way toward easing the stress and concerns officers and their families encounter in dealing with government red tape. We regard Burrows’ bills as no-brainers and urge the Legislature to act on this immediately. After all, we owe it to our law enforcement community.