Bill Would Require Calif. Hospitals To Pay for Work-Related Injuries
A bill (AB 1994) Â progressing through the California Legislature would make hospital workers eligible for compensation for some conditions and injuries sustained on the job, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Assembly Bill 1994 -- approved by the Assembly Insurance Committee -- would make nurses and other health care workers who provide direct patient care eligible for workersâ "rebuttable presumptions" for an injury suffered in the workplace unless proven otherwise by the employer.
Conditions that would qualify for compensation include:
- Neck and back injuries;
- Blood borne infections;
- H1N1 influenza; and
- Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus.
AB 1994 would be the first piece of legislation to apply to private employees and address the public health sector.
The bill would apply to more than 350,000 hospital workers. The Assembly Appropriations Committee estimates that the legislation would increase costs to the state's 400 acute care hospitals by $250 million to $500 million annually.
Support for AB 1994
The California Nurses Association and the California Labor Federation support the bill.
According to the billâs sponsor, Assembly member Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), the measure not only serves to protect health care employees from a risky work environment but also to address gender inequality.
Specifically, Skinner argues that the "female-dominated" hospital profession lacks the rebuttable presumptions granted to "male-dominated" public safety professions, the Bee reports.
Opposition to AB 1994
The California Hospital Association and the California State Association of Counties oppose the legislation.
Gail Blanchard-Saiger of CHA said the bill "adds to health care costs without necessarily any benefits or justification." She added that forcing hospitals to prove that an injury or condition was not job-related would be costly and impractical.
Although the bill would not increase compensation health care workers receive, critics say that it would shift the burden of proof, thereby resulting in more claims for injuries that occurred outside of the hospital.
Status of Bill
Last month, the Assembly Insurance Committee approved the bill along party lines, with Republicans voting against it. The Assembly Appropriations Committee is set to hold a hearing on the bill on Wednesday.
Similar legislation stalled last year in the Appropriations Committee. However, the Assembly now has a new speaker -- John PÃ©rez (D-Los Angles) -- and a new Appropriations Committee Chair -- Felipe Fuentes (D-Los Angeles) (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 5/4).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.