Workers’ Comp Ruling Could Boost Overhaul Efforts
A Workers' Compensation Appeals Board judge in San Francisco last week ruled that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) administration did not comply with state law when calculating the schedule of benefits for permanently disabled employees, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Judge Jacqueline Duncan found that permanent disability regulations issued by the state in January 2005 were not based on empirical evidence, such as lost future wages.
According to some studies, the governor's 2004 law to reform the California workers' compensation insurance system has reduced payments by half to permanently injured workers. Meanwhile, critics say the reforms have increased revenue for employers and insurers.
The decision is expected to be appealed to the full board. The Schwarzenegger administration said the ruling may conflict with a recent decision by the full board.
If the ruling is upheld, it would help efforts by Democratic legislative leaders to pass legislation that would increase permanent disability payments, according to the Times.
Aides to Senate President Pro Tempore Don Perata (D-Oakland) and Assembly Speaker Fabian Núñez (D-Los Angeles) on Friday held an initial meeting with stakeholders in the workers' compensation system to help draft legislation that would increase disability benefits without raising costs for businesses.
However, the Times notes that many business groups remain resistant to revising the current system (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 5/12).