CMTA & others discuss workers’ comp. issues with legislators

By CMTA Staff

Capitol Update, April 9, 2010 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

This year’s Workers’ Compensation legislative day, which CMTA co-sponsors, was a huge success. Over 75 business representatives participated in an afternoon briefing and all day meetings with over 90 legislative members and staff. Participants had an opportunity to deliver the following top line messages:

  • An affordable and effective workers’ compensation system is critical to protecting jobs and vital public services in California.
  • Changes enacted by the Legislature have improved California’s workers’ comp. system for employers and injured workers.
  • Workers’ comp. costs are increasing again – at the worst possible time for our economy.
  • Recent court decisions are increasing costs and have created uncertainty about the long-term viability of the reforms.
  • Given the increasing costs and rampant uncertainty in the system and economy right now, the impact of any further changes must be carefully scrutinized.

In addition, the participants discussed the consequences of two current bills that would have a significant cost impact if passed:

AB 1603 (Solorio) Expansion of TD Benefits

Extends temporary disability benefits to injured workers for up to 60 days after they are informed that their condition has reached maximum medical improvement, otherwise known as “permanent and stationary,” if their employer has not made an offer to return to regular, modified or alternative work.

The bill does not address the systemic problems that lead to delays in finalizing decisions about returning to work, and instead focuses only on delivering more cash benefits.

Current problems with return to work, such as the delays caused by incomplete medical reports, must be resolved.

AB 1994 (Skinner) Hospital Presumption
Creates special rules for hospital employees in the workers’ comp. system by creating a legal presumption that an injury, blood-borne infectious disease, H1N1, or MRSA infection is related to employment.

Presumptions are unnecessary because the workers’ comp. system is “no fault,” which means that all injuries that occur at work are accepted.  In addition, the labor code requires the law to be “liberally construed” with the purpose of extending benefits to injured workers.

There is no evidence to support a presumption for hospital workers.  Proponents have not produced any evidence that shows that these types of claims are being delayed or denied in a way that would warrant this extreme path.

Overall, the message that participants delivered was well received. More legislative members now know the importance of keeping the 2004 workers’ comp. reforms intact.

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