Burton To Introduce Bill to Repeal Workers’ Compensation Reform Laws in Special Legislative Session
Senate President Pro Tem John Burton (D-San Francisco) plans to introduce a bill that would repeal new workers' compensation reform laws in a special legislative session next month, the Orange County Register reports. Burton said that business leaders have called the laws inadequate, adding that lawmakers "might as well start over with real reform" (Kindy, Orange County Register, 10/29). The special session, called last week by Gov.-elect Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), will address workers' compensation reform and other issues. Gov. Gray Davis (D) late last month signed into law bills (AB 227 and SB 228) that will establish fee schedules for treatments and prescription drugs; limit chiropractic and physical therapy visits; implement reviews that use national standards to determine the proper amount of care for certain injuries; and increase penalties for employer fraud from $50,000 to $150,000 (California Healthline, 10/23). Both Schwarzenegger and Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi (D) have said that the reforms are inadequate and that new reforms should establish a system to determine the severity of worker injuries or disabilities (Avalos, Contra Costa Times, 10/29). Burton said that he has sent a letter to both Schwarzenegger and California Chamber of Commerce President Allan Zaremberg to inform them of his plan to introduce the legislation to repeal the laws, but he said that has not received a response from either. H.D. Palmer, a spokesperson for Schwarzenegger, said that the governor-elect has not taken a position on the bill (Orange County Register, 10/29).
Schwarzenegger should "demonstrate his moderate approach" and support workers' compensation reforms proposed by Garamendi, who "has a proven record in creating moderate, effective solutions to major insurance problems," a San Jose Mercury News editorial states. Workers' compensation reforms are "crucial to California's economy," and "it's going to take all of Schwarzenegger's political muscle to hammer out an agreement that meets the approval of the Democratic-controlled Legislature," the editorial states (San Jose Mercury News, 10/29).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.