California: Workers' Compensation Reform Bill Passes Out of Legislature
Legislation to overhaul California's workers' compensation system weaved its way through the Legislature after many twists and turns and last-minute revisions. The final version of the 160-page bill was supported by unions and employers, an uncommon allegiance, and opposed by workers' compensation trial lawyers. Workers' compensation reform has been a hot topic in the Legislature for the past eight years, so the proposed legislation was intended to address a multitude of systemic issues associated with the program.
Senate Bill 863 calls for holistic reform to medical provider networks; independent medical reviews and independent bill reviews; workers' compensation liens reform; medical fee schedules; return to work; and permanent disability benefits.
A primary focus of the reform legislation was to balance the benefits needs of injured workers with need for necessary cost-containment measures to curb the out-of-control cost of the system to employers in the state. The Sept. 1 Senate Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations Bill Analysis provides a detailed summary of the key reforms associated with the bill.
NAMIC is cautiously hopeful that the proposed reforms will improve affordability and availability of workers' compensation coverage for employers, reduce workers' compensation fraud and litigation abuse, and provide injured workers with necessary and appropriate benefits.
NAMIC will continue to work with its member companies, colleagues in the insurance industry, members of the business community, and the administrative director of the Division of Workers' Compensation on implementation of this workers' compensation reform legislation.
Christian J. Rataj
State Affairs Manager