Senate Committee Approves Legislation To Address State Workers’ Compensation Insurance System
The Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee on Wednesday voted 5-3 to approve a bill (SB 538) that would require new medical provider networks and health care organizations to be evaluated on their ability to provide adequate treatment to injured workers, the AP/San Diego Union-Tribune reports.
The bill by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) would require the provider networks to have at least one treating physician per 3,600 insured employees and at least one physician who is board certified for occupational medicine.
The committee on Wednesday also voted 5-3 to approve legislation (SB 46) that would create a three-member panel to create a range of rates for workers' compensation insurance. Under the bill, sponsored by Sen. Richard Alarcon (D-Van Nuys), the governor, attorney general and insurance commissioner, or their representatives, would comprise the panel.
Both bills will now go to the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.
Kuehl said that Democratic legislators are willing to try to modify some changes to the state workers' compensation insurance system that were enacted in 2004. She said, "I believe that we understand better that some of these compromises were harmful to injured workers and didn't help employers' either, and we're quite willing to amend what we did last year" (Lawrence, AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/14)
Alarcon said, "Small businesses are not seeing the benefits of workers' compensation reform in the last two years."
Willie Washington, a lobbyist for the California Manufacturers and Technology Association, said, "I don't think [the legislation] has a prayer of being signed" by Schwarzenegger (Chan, Sacramento Bee, 4/14).
Schwarzenegger spokesperson Vince Sollitto said the governor has not taken a position on either bill, but he added that Schwarzenegger has "made numerous comments about the perils of rate regulation" (AP/San Diego Union-Tribune, 4/14).