Increased Workers’ Comp Benefits Under Review by California Stakeholders
The administration of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) is in talks with insurers and business and labor advocates about changes to workers' compensation benefits for people with permanent disabilities, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Although the governor is widely expected to veto a bill (SB 936) by Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) that would double permanent disability benefits over three years, labor advocates are optimistic that the bill will push the governor to consider raising the benefits.
Carrie Nevans, acting administrator of the Division of Workers' Compensation, is considering regulatory changes that would increase permanent disability payments by about 10% based on a series of studies on workers' comp benefits. She said additional research might be needed before further increases could be considered.
The California Chamber of Commerce is leading other business groups in their opposition to the bill and other changes to the 2004 workers' comp reforms that have translated to an average 55% reduction in employers' workers' compensation insurance premiums.
However, Mark Webb, vice president for government relations of Employer Direct Insurance Company, said insurers are beginning to see evidence that cuts to permanent disability benefits have "been more severe than we anticipated, than we intended." He indicated that some insurers are open to increasing permanent disability benefits by as much as 30% (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 10/4).