Argued: May 3, 2017
BEFORE: HONORABLE MARY HANNAH LEAVITT, President Judge
HONORABLE RENÉE COHN JUBELIRER, Judge HONORABLE P.
KEVIN BROBSON, Judge HONORABLE PATRICIA A. McCULLOUGH, Judge
HONORABLE ANNE E. COVEY, Judge HONORABLE MICHAEL H. WOJCIK,
Judge HONORABLE JULIA K. HEARTHWAY, Judge.
KEVIN BROBSON, Judge.
Opinion and Order dated March 31, 2016, the Workers'
Compensation Appeal Board (Board) affirmed, in large part,
and reversed, in part, a decision by a Workers'
Compensation Judge (WCJ), granting a claim petition filed by
a cancer-stricken Philadelphia firefighter (Claimant) under
Section 108(r) of the Workers' Compensation Act (Act),
pertaining to the definitions of occupational
diseases. Relevant to this proceeding are two
aspects of the Board's decision. First, the Board
affirmed the WCJ's determination that Claimant's
health insurer, Independence Blue Cross (IBC), submitted
sufficient evidence to support the amount of its subrogation
lien-i.e., the amount IBC paid to
cover Claimant's medical expenses prior to the WCJ's
benefit determination- against Claimant's medical
benefits under the Act. Second, the Board reversed the
WCJ's determination that, as a matter of law, only
medical expenses for services provided after the effective
date of what is commonly known as Act 46(July 7, 2011),
which designated cancer in firefighters as an occupational
disease, were reimbursable. As a result, all of
Claimant's medical expenses related to his illness became
reimbursable under the Act. We affirm the Board.
matter came before the Board on an appeal filed by IBC and
Claimant's employer, the City of Philadelphia (City). IBC
challenged that portion of the WCJ's determination that
limited reimbursement on its lien to services rendered to
Claimant after July 7, 2011. The City cross-appealed,
challenging IBC's right to a subrogation lien as well as
the sufficiency of the proof offered in support of that lien
before the WCJ. As noted above, the Board effectively granted
IBC relief on its appeal and denied the City relief on its
cross-appeal. The City then petitioned this Court for review.
appeal,  the City argues that, as a matter of law,
IBC's lien can only attach to medical expenses incurred
after the effective date of Act 46. Accordingly, IBC, as
Claimant's health insurer, cannot claim a lien for
medical expenses paid on account of services rendered prior
to July 7, 2011, even though the services related to
Claimant's work-related cancer. Alternatively, the City
claims that the single document, a "Statement of
Benefits, " that IBC submitted into evidence was
insufficient to support the existence and amount of IBC's
subrogation lien. At the outset, it is important to note
that Claimant's entitlement to benefits under the
is not at issue in this appeal. Moreover, no party to this
appeal is contending that Claimant's medical expenses
related to his illness have not been covered, either by IBC
as Claimant's health insurer or pursuant to the Act.
Instead, the entirety of the City's appeal is focused on
limiting, if not eliminating, the amount that IBC, as
Claimant's health insurer (or third-party administrator
administering a self-insured healthcare plan), may recover on
its subrogation lien.
respect to the City's first contention-i.e.,
that the Board erred by applying the Act 46 amendments
"retroactively" when it recognized IBC's lien
for medical expenses IBC paid on behalf of Claimant prior
to the effective date of Act 46-we conclude that the
Board appropriately applied the Act, as amended. It is
undisputed that Claimant filed his claim petition on June 13,
2012, and that his petition was timely-filed under the
Section 4 of Act 46 clearly and unambiguously provides:
"The provisions of this act shall apply to claims
filed on or after the effective date of this
section." (Emphasis added.) As the Pennsylvania
Supreme Court has recognized, "[t]he object of statutory
construction is to ascertain and effectuate the General
Assembly's intent. The plain language of a statute is, as
a general rule, the best indicator of such legislative
intent." Mercury Trucking, Inc. v. Pa. Pub. Util.
Comm'n, 55 A.3d 1056, 1067-68 (Pa. 2012). Here, the
General Assembly's intent is clear. Act 46 applies to all
claims filed after July 7, 2011. In other words, any claimant
who files a timely claim after July 7, 2011, is entitled to
the benefits of Act 46. The Board did not, as the City
contends, apply Act 46 "retroactively." Rather, the
Board properly applied Act 46 prospectively to Claimant's
claim, which Claimant timely filed after the effective date
of Act 46. The Board, therefore, properly adjudicated the
claim petition under the Act, as amended by Act 46.
to the City's second issue on appeal, the City challenges
the sufficiency of IBC's evidence of its lien. During the
August 5, 2013 hearing before the WCJ in this matter, counsel
for IBC offered into evidence pre-marked Exhibit I-1.
(Reproduced Record (R.R.) at 1a.) The document is titled
"Consolidated Statement of Benefits." The
"patient" is identified as Claimant. The "date
of injury" is identified as October 18, 2009, which
corresponds to the date of injury set forth in Claimant's
claim petition and the date Claimant was diagnosed with renal
cell cancer. In columnar format, the document sets forth
dates of service, procedure codes, claim numbers, and
"Provided Benefits, " which appears to be the cost
paid to the provider for the service. On the record, the WCJ
identified the document as "lien information" and
asked all parties in attendance, including the City, whether
there were any objections to admission of the exhibit into
the record, leading to the following exchange:
MR. DRYDEN [CLAIMANT'S COUNSEL]: Not from Claimant.
MR. KACHLINE [CITY'S COUNSEL]: From the employer, the
copy that you have in front of you, certain charges were
stricken from that document as unrelated.
I believe counsel for IBC is here to agree that those ones
can be marked off the list from there. Your Honor has already
ruled on the retroactivity issues, so we don't need to go
over that again. Based on the representation that those
charges will be stricken from that document the [C]ity will
waive its hearsay objection.
[WCJ]: Those charges are highlighted in yellow and total,
probably around $100, right?
MR. MARTIN [COUNSEL FOR IBC]: That's why I took my ...