Contra Costa Officials Examine Workers’ Compensation
A Contra Costa County Risk Management Department study of workers' compensation found that Contra Costa is "wasting millions of dollars" by paying injured workers the most money for the longest period compared to five other counties while it faces a projected budget shortfall of over $50 million next year, the Contra Costa Times reports. Under Contra Costa's program, workers' compensation pays 86% of employees' salaries for one year. Because the payments are tax-free, they exceed workers' net take-home salary, according to County Administrator John Sweeten. Costs for Contra Costa County's workers' compensation program have increased 39% in the past three years in part because of the salary continuation policy and limited investment in ergonomic injury prevention programs, according to the report. The county's failure to take advantage of a law that allows the county to assign employees to doctors during the first 30 days following an injury in an attempt to guarantee an objective physician examination also contributes to the program's cost increase, the report found. The county Board of Supervisors was scheduled to consider the report and program revisions on Tuesday. Any changes to the current system would first require county employee union members approve the opening of their contracts, which include the workers' compensation plans. The county then would have to renegotiate with the unions. The report compared workers' compensation program costs for Contra Costa County with program costs for Alameda, San Mateo, Sacramento, San Joaquin and Santa Clara counties (Felsenfeld, Contra Costa Times, 3/31).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.