Democratic Legislators Plan To Address Workers’ Compensation Insurance in 2006
Democratic legislative leaders plan in 2006 to pursue changes to legislation that overhauled the state workers' compensation insurance system, the Los Angeles Times reports. According to the Times, Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez (D-Los Angeles) "are adamant about revisiting" workers' compensation reform (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 1/3).
Since the second component of reforms took effect in 2004, workers' compensation insurance rates have decreased to their lowest levels since early 2002, the Sacramento Bee reports. In addition, hospital costs have decreased by 4.6% and outpatient surgery expenses have decreased by 45.1% (Chan, Sacramento Bee, 1/2).
Christine Baker, executive officer of the state-sponsored Commission on Health, Safety and Workers' Compensation, said preliminary findings of a study of 3,500 workers' compensation cases found that claims are being evaluated more strictly and that the average disability classification has decreased by about 40%, resulting in lower benefits (Los Angeles Times, 1/3).
Some labor group advocates say the rules are making it difficult for workers' compensation claimants to receive medical treatment and are calling for revisions to the rules.
However, business groups have said it is too early to consider revisions to the laws (Sacramento Bee, 1/2).
Vince Sollitto, a spokesperson for Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R), said it would be "premature to speculate" about what actions the governor would pursue until "there is good, solid data available on how the system is working" (Los Angeles Times, 1/3).
"At this point, dramatic changes" to the workers' compensation reform laws "would be premature," a Santa Rosa Press Democrat editorial states, adding that insurance companies should "simplify, streamline and professionalize their approval process" (Santa Rosa Press Democrat, 1/3).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.