San Francisco Chronicle Examines Problems in State Workers’ Compensation System
The San Francisco Chronicle today published two articles that examine problems in the state workers' compensation system. Gov. Gray Davis (D) last month announced support for legislative proposals that he said would lower by at least $1.5 billion the estimated $15 billion to $20 billion annual cost of the system (California Healthline, 5/9). In addition, the Senate last week voted 37-1 to approve a bill (SB 228) that would limit the amounts that outpatient clinics and pharmacies could charge to treat workers covered under the system (California Healthline, 6/6). Summaries of the articles appear below.
- "Employers Reel From Workers' Insurance": The increase in workers' compensation costs this year is "so steep" that the Legislature and Davis, faced with "complaints from businesses, unions and other contributors," have promised to reform the 90-year-old state workers' compensation system this year, the Chronicle reports. Insurers have raised workers' compensation insurance rates "by leaps and bounds" because of increased medical costs, and small and large businesses, as well as school districts, cities and counties, have experienced a "staggering jump" in costs. In response, state lawmakers have introduced more than 50 workers' compensation bills this year, and they expect revisions to the state workers' compensation system as part of a final budget agreement, according to the Chronicle (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/9).
- "State's No-Fault Insurance System Rife With Conflict, Complications": The state no-fault workers' compensation system, which allows employees to proceed with medical treatment and dispute employer decisions, is "convoluted" and "filled with conflict," the Chronicle reports. Opponents maintain that although about 80% of workers' compensation claims are "routine," the 200,000 non-routine claims filed each year are "driving up the system's costs and spiking the price businesses pay" for insurance, according to the Chronicle (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/9).