Governor Vetoes Workers’ Compensation Legislation
This week, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) vetoed several bills that would have boosted benefits and made other changes to the state workers' compensation program, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Injured workers, their lawyers and labor groups have been pushing for expanded disability benefits, arguing that such benefits have been reduced by about 50% over the last four years. However, business lobbyists have fought Democratic proposals to expand disability benefits, arguing that they would be too costly for employers.
One bill (SB 1717) by Senate President Don Perata (D-Oakland) would have doubled the benefits paid to employees who become permanently disabled from on-the-job injuries.
In his veto message for the bill, Schwarzenegger said, "The workers' compensation reforms I enacted in 2004 have worked. Costs to employers have decreased and return-to-work rates for injured workers have increased."
Schwarzenegger aides say they are preparing regulations that could raise disability benefits by about 16%.
Perata said the proposed increase is too low.
Schwarzenegger also vetoed a bill (SB 1115) by Sen. Carole Migden (D-San Francisco) that would have prohibited health insurers from reducing disability awards to injured workers based on their gender, race or age.Â Schwarzenegger said he supported the intent of Migden's bill butÂ felt the measure was unnecessary because current law already protects injured workers.
The governor also vetoed SB 1338, which would have allowed some employees to select their own physician for job-related injuries, rather than going to company-designated clinics (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 10/3).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.