CALIFORNIA: WILL STUDY PROMPT WORKERS’ COMP OVERHAUL?
"Californians injured at work face severe financialThis is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
problems," according to preliminary findings from a Rand Corp.
study of the state workers' compensation system, the Los Angeles
Times reports. The study, which evaluated thousands of cases
from 1992 through 1996, found that within "the first five years
after reporting permanently disabling injuries, workers lose an
average 40% in wages." However, the study found that injured
workers are only compensated for slightly more than one-third of
the average amount of lost wages. According to the Los Angeles
Times, the study is "expected to trigger calls for another
overhaul in the way California treats people with permanently
disabling work injuries." The findings also provide "the first
objective economic assessment of what social workers,
rehabilitation specialists, lawyers and others who work with or
represent injured California workers have reported anecdotally
Mark Peterson, a co-author of the study, said the findings
show that the state is "seriously undercompensating the vast
majority of these workers." USC law and medical school
instructor Marvin Shapiro said "(The Rand study) says the bargain
that was cut between employers and employees has worked fine for
employers ... but the savings have not been passed on to the
people that society forgets, the injured workers." But "calls
for more money for benefits could drive up insurance premiums for
employers and ignite new political battles between businesses and
advocates for injured employees," the Times reports.
The Rand study, is scheduled for releases before a November 21
summit of state leaders, business executives and union officials
being held to discuss the issue (Marsh/Silverstein, 11/4).