Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Business of Politics - Sickening

If you pay, then you can play. But likely, not before.

That seems to be the message coming out of California politics lately.

First it was Senator Ron Calderon in connection with Pacific Hospital and Michael Drobot.

Now we learn that Senator Leland Yee has been indicted and arrested on political corruption charges and arms trafficking.

There is no allegation that anything Yee has been accused of has anything to do with workers' compensation.

But Lee does have a history in workers' compensation legislation, albeit sparse and largely without success.

When it was proposed that the Controlled Substances Utilization Review Evaluation and Management System, or CURES, be paid for by surcharges on medical licenses, it was Yee who cast the sole objection when the matter was heard in the Senate Committee on Business, Professions and Economic Development.

California physicians would have immunity from disciplinary action for prescribing and dispensing dangerous drugs to treat chronic pain under SB 410 authored by Yee, which would have made it even more difficult to control opioid issues in the state.

Yee introduced a bill in 2009 that would exempt small family owned farms from having to carry workers' compensation insurance if it was operated only by family members (the bill died amidst complaints of its complexity).

In 2007 then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed into law Senate Bill 316, authored by Yee, repealing a requirement that workers' compensation insurers deposit 65% of their written premiums into reserve accounts.

When Yee was in the Assembly he promoted a bill that would have mandated a study by the Department of Industrial Relations and the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation into how much the Medi-Cal program pays out for medical treatment that should be paid by the workers' compensation system.

Schwarzenneger vetoed that bill because, he said, the Department of Health Services has a unit assigned to review Medi-Cal cases for cost recovery and "the state does not need yet another report."

Yee proposed letting State Compensation Insurance Fund sell group health insurance.

Granted, Yee is not being accused of any improprieties in workers' compensation legislation, but this is the second time in as many months that a prominent California politician is being indicted after an FBI investigation into political corruption.

Some may chalk all of this up to "business as usual." I can't do that. My faith in our political system has been badly shaken.

It's a shame.

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