Workers’ Compensation Costs for Some Los Angeles County Agencies Have Almost Doubled Since 1998, Report Finds
The cost of workers' compensation payments for the Los Angeles County Fire Department and Sheriff's Department has nearly doubled over the past five years, in part because of increasing medical costs, expanded benefit requirements and fraud, according to a report released Friday by the Los Angeles County Grand Jury, the Los Angeles Times reports. The report -- which is issued each year to monitor county and city agencies -- found that workers' compensation spending in the county Sheriff's Department rose from $48.5 million in 1998 to $93.4 million last year, while the number of employees increased by about 16%. The county Fire Department last year spent $21.9 million on workers' compensation costs; together, the departments spent $134.9 million last year. Claims' costs are expected to continue to increase because of legislative changes that took effect in January, according to the report. The report recommends that the county Fire Department require employees to have yearly medical examinations that are now voluntary; Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman said he supports that change. Sheriff Lee Baca said he is "deeply concerned about the runaway train of workers' compensation costs."
In other analysis, the report found that the county Department of Community and Senior Services is "ill-prepared" to meet the future needs of seniors, the Times reports. It also recommends that the county provide aid to the county Department of the Coroner to obtain protective gear and other equipment to be used in the event of a bioterrorist attack (Briscoe et al., Los Angeles Times, 6/28). The report is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to view the report.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.