More Workers’ Compensation Reform Needed, Garamendi Writes in Opinion Piece
The "meteoric increases" in workers' compensation costs "have given rise to a genuine economic crisis," and "more must be done" to reform the system, California Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi (D) writes in a Fresno Bee opinion piece (Garamendi, Fresno Bee, 10/10). Gov. Gray Davis (D) last week signed into law two bills (AB 227 and SB 228) to reform the state workers' compensation system and help reduce increased workers' compensation insurance premiums for employers. Some of the provisions in the bills include fee schedules for treatments and prescription drugs; limits on chiropractic and physical therapy visits; reviews that use national standards to determine the proper amount of care for certain injuries; and increased penalties for employer fraud from $50,000 to $150,000 (California Healthline, 10/9). While the recently passed reform laws mark "a major step forward in overhauling" the system, it is time "for step two of this monumental reform effort," Garamendi writes. According to Garamendi, lawmakers and business and labor leaders need to "continue [their] partnership" and seek to change the "grossly inefficient" and "highly subjective" permanent disability ratings system; eliminate "administrative inefficiencies"; create rules that place all medical services under a Medicare indexed fee schedule; amend the "irrational penalty structure"; reduce the time injured workers are on temporary disability; and continue to eliminate fraud and abuse. "Coalitions between labor and business must be maintained, legislation drafted, popular support mobilized and special interests overcome," Garamendi writes, concluding, "California's economy is at stake" (Fresno Bee, 10/10).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.