Friday, May 13, 2011

Plethora of Bills Foretell End of Reform

If there is any doubt why workers' compensation system reforms fail after several years (thereby begetting further "reform") one need only look at some of the aggressive legislative activity that occurs!

The following is a list of activity reported in this morning's WorkCompCentral news that is occurring in California as the deadline for bill submission closes today:

Bills that are up for floor votes:
  • AB 211 by Assemblyman Gilbert Cedillo, D-Los Angeles. The measure would require supplemental job displacement vouchers be delivered to injured workers no later than 80 days after the first medical report indicates there will be some degree of permanent partial disability award and the injured worker is permanent and stationary.
  • AB 1168 by Assemblyman Richard Pan, D-Natomas, which would order the Division of Workers' Compensation to develop by Jan. 1, 2013, a fee schedule establishing maximum fees paid for services provided by vocational experts. The bill is on the Assembly's consent calendar.
  • AB 947 by Solorio would extend the period during which an injured worker can collect temporary disability benefits from 104 weeks to five years when a course of treatment lasts longer than two years.
  • AB 783 by Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi, D-Hayward, would add physical therapists to the list of health care workers who can be employees of a professional medical corporation.
  • SB 863 by Sen. Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, would require liens be filed in writing and within 18 months of the date medical services were provided.
  • SB 684 by Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro, would require California law be applied to disputes between employers and insurers.
Bills that are in appropriation committees:
  • AB 335 by Assemblyman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana, would require the administrative director of the Division of Workers' Compensation to adopt new notices and rules governing how the notices are delivered to employees.
  • AB 378 by Solorio would cap reimbursement for compound drugs until the Division of Workers' Compensation adopts a fee schedule that covers compound drugs.
  • SB 826 by Sen. Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, would authorize the Division of Workers' Compensation to assess fines against adjusters who don't comply with mandatory reporting requirements.
  • SB 127 by Sen. Bill Emmerson, R-Riverside, would require updating Current Procedure Technology (CPT) codes used in the Official Medical Fee Schedule.
  • SB 432 by DeLeon, requiring hotels to use fitted sheets and provide housekeepers with long-handled cleaning tools.
  • SB 923 by DeLeon, requiring the Division of Workers' Compensation to develop an Official Medical Fee Schedule based on the Resource-Based Relative Value Scale (RBRVS).
Bills that have passed Assembly include:
  • AB 228 by Assemblyman Felipe Fuentes, D-Sylman, would exempt State Compensation Insurance Fund employees from hiring freezes, staff cutbacks and furloughs. The Assembly passed the bill off the consent calendar on May 9.
  • AB 1263 by Assemblyman Das Williams, D-Santa Barbara, would prohibit State Fund officers and directors from engaging in lobbying or contracting activities for two years after employment with the carrier is terminated. The bill passed on a 74-0 vote on May 5.
  • AB 584 by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, would mandate that a physician conducting utilization review of the proposed treatment for an injured worker be licensed in California. The bill passed April 28 on a 54-22 vote.
  • AB 397 by Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, would require licensed contractors to provide proof of workers' compensation coverage or a work comp insurance exemption when renewing licenses. The bill passed on a 60-0 vote April 14.
  • AB 1155 by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, would prohibit the use of race, gender and other protected classes when apportioning permanent disability. The bill passed Thursday on a 44-22 vote that split down party lines.

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