State Predicts Costly Effect of Workers’ Comp Measure
The Legislative Analyst's Office has released a report criticizing a proposed ballot measure seeking revisions to state laws that modified the workers' compensation insurance system over the past three years, the Sacramento Bee reports (Chan, Sacramento Bee, 3/27).
The measure, titled the Fair Medical Treatment for Workers Act, would permit workers' compensation claimants to choose their own physician, reversing current regulations that require claimants to see a provider in a network of physicians selected by their employer, unless the worker designated a provider before the injury. The proposal also would require the Department of Industrial Relations to update its medical fee schedule annually.
The initiative was proposed by William Morris, an attorney who represents workers' compensation claimants (California Healthline, 3/1). The Attorney General's office is reviewing the proposal.
The Legislative Analyst's Office estimates the ballot initiative could increase costs by "potentially billions of dollars annually for private and public employers." The report also estimates cost increases for state and local governments of "mid-hundreds of millions of dollars per year."
The report defended state reforms, noting that costs for employers were reduced by $20 billion in 2006. State and local governments in 2006 paid $2.5 billion for coverage, benefits and medical treatment.
Joel Fox, president of the Small Business Action Committee, said, "We intend to rally to protect the (reform) bill that was passed in 2004." He added that revising the law "would be very costly to the state's economy" (Sacramento Bee, 3/27).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.