Senate Approves Workers’ Compensation Reform Legislation
The Senate on Wednesday 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 state workers' compensation system, the AP/Fresno Bee reports. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Alarcon (D-Los Angeles), would mandate that outpatient surgery centers charge no more than 120% of the amounts reimbursed by Medicare for the same procedures and that pharmacies charge no more for prescription drugs than the amounts allowed by Medi-Cal. Alarcon said that the legislation would help "stabilize" the workers' compensation system and reduce costs by about $1.3 billion. Sen. Sam Aanestad (R-Grass Valley) cast the only vote against the bill, which he said would cause medical specialists to leave the workers' compensation system (Lawrence, AP/Fresno Bee, 6/5). Gov. Gray Davis (D) in May expressed support for the bill as part of a larger reform effort that he said would reduce costs for the workers' compensation system by at least $1.5 billion (California Healthline, 5/2).
The Senate also voted 23-7 to approve a bill (SB 354) sponsored by Sen. Jackie Speier (D-Hillsborough) that would increase from $50,000 to $100,000 the maximum fine for individuals who make fraudulent workers' compensation claims. The legislation also would mandate that physicians could not refer workers' compensation patients to facilities in which they or their families hold a financial interest. In addition, the bill would limit workers' compensation claims for chiropractic care to 15 one-hour visits (SB 354 text, 6/3).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.