More Injured Coming Back to Work Since Reforms, Study Finds
California workers declared permanently but partially disabled have returned to work at a higher rate since Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in 2004 signed legislation to reform the state's workers' compensation system, according to a state report released Wednesday, the Los Angeles Times reports. The report was ordered as part of the legislation.
The report found that 70% of workers declared permanently but partially disabled between Jan. 1, 2005, and June 30, 2006, returned to work, which is a "slight improvement" from the 65% of workers who returned to work in 2003 and 2004, according to the Times (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 2/1).
Another study examining whether permanently disabled workers are receiving fewer benefits since the governor's reforms will be released in March, according to administration officials. Officials noted that neither report is comprehensive. A full study detailing the losses on workers' incomes will not be available until late 2008, despite the fact that Schwarzenegger said the study would be completed last year (Davis, AP/ San Luis Obispo Tribune, 1/31).
A report released last year by the Commission on Health Safety and Workers' Compensation found that Schwarzenegger's reforms have cut benefits by about 50% (California Healthline, 2/14/06).
The governor in September 2006 vetoed a bill by Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) that would have raised to higher levels the benefits for disabled workers (Los Angeles Times, 2/1).
Perata on Wednesday said that he will introduce a similar measure this year (AP/San Luis Obispo Tribune, 1/31). Labor unions likely will support the bill (Los Angeles Times, 2/1).