Workers’ Compensation Has Low Profile in Election
Workers' compensation insurance has not emerged as a major issue in this year's gubernatorial election, after being "red-hot" in the 2003 recall, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) in 2003 and 2004 enacted legislation to reform the state workers' compensation insurance system, and his administration has issued regulations to implement those laws. Together, the legislation and regulations:
- Limit visits to chiropractors and physical therapists;
- Eliminate vocational rehabilitation benefits;
- Restrict temporary disability payments to two years;
- Restructure payment formulas for permanent disability payments;
- Permit insurers to deny a workers' compensation claim if the insurer deems the claim to be the result of a pre-existing condition; and
- Cap fees to pharmacies and outpatient surgery centers.
However, labor advocates say the changes have reduced payments to inadequate levels and restricted workers' compensation claimants' access to medical services.
Schwarzenegger said he would resist significant changes to the reforms but would re-examine some provisions if a study by his administration finds that "seriously injured workers are falling through the cracks." The study is due by the end of the year.
Democratic gubernatorial nominee Phil Angelides said he would consider some changes to the reforms if he were elected (Lifsher, Los Angeles Times, 10/17). 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.