Thursday, May 7, 2015

Who's Got Big Balls?

"My breasts are worth less than your testicles."

With that observation, California Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, convinced the Insurance Committee on Wednesday to pass Assembly Bill 305, which she introduced as part of the "overall fight for equality in the workplace."

Under the AMA Guides 5th edition, which California uses as the basis for rating permanent disability, the maximum permanent disability rating for losing a breast is 5%, according to Gonzalez. If a woman is beyond "child-bearing age," the rating drops to zero. Meanwhile, the maximum rating for removing a prostate is 16%, Gonzalez said.

AB 305 would amend the Labor Code to declare the impairment rating for breast cancer can't be lower than the comparable rating for prostate cancer.

The bill would also prohibit apportionment of permanent disability for a physical injury from being based on pregnancy, menopause or osteoporosis "if the condition is contemporaneous with the claimed physical injury. For psychiatric injuries, the bill would prohibit apportionment of permanent disability based on sexual harassment, pregnancy, menopause or osteoporosis.

The "fight for equality" in impairment ratings has been going on for a few years, but it really started about 10 years ago as a consequence of the government's failure to follow its own laws.

SB 899, which was the momentous "reform" law under Governor Schwarzenegger's administration back in 2004, introduced the AMA Guides 5th as the default impairment schedule. 

That law was widely criticized for decimating the permanent disability indemnity benefit.

But SB 899 also mandated that the Division of Workers' Compensation amend and update the Permanent Disability Rating Schedule every 2 years, after empirical study, to account for inequalities that arose from the changes.

That never happened. The mandate was ignored. The government violated its own laws and requirements.

SB 863 came along a couple of years ago, and raised the indemnity rate, but did not change the PDRS.

The mandate that the PDRS be revised mysteriously disappeared from the Labor Code.

So, because the government can't do the job the law required it to do, the People see a need to do it for them with piece-meal legislation that will no doubt invite dispute, cause more "friction" and create more costs, while injured workers sit, again, on the sideline waiting for something to happen so they can move on with their lives.

This point was acknowledged by Mark Rakich, chief consultant to the Assembly Insurance Committee.

Rakich said whether a condition and an injury are contemporaneous is likely going to have to be a "fact-based determination" made case by case.

We never learn.

1 comment:

  1. I love it. I will have that song stuck in my head all day now.

    If these women were in WA State, we would just tell them to stop talking about all this ineqaulity bull in workers comp, and just learn to suck it up.... and possibly they need to seek mental health therapy to modify their, out of control behviors, and insane thinking, that folks should be being treated equally in this World. What would the World be like if everyone was eqaul? Geez. Yep I think the Rx for thes folks in CA is to do like we do to folks here in WA who complain about ineqaulty..... send them to treatment to get their behaviors modified. Hmm?