Insurance Commissioner Issues Press Release on WC Panels

By Loretta Macktal, Executive Assistant to the Vice President, Government Relations

Capitol Update, Feb. 28, 2003 Share this on FacebookTweet thisEmail this to a friend

Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi issued a press release on February 27 regarding two advisory panels he convened, prior to taking office in January, to make recommendations on how to fix the workers' compensation system. One group is composed of diverse membership from small business, employers, physicians, employees, applicant attorneys, defense attorneys and other parties with a compelling interest in the system. The second includes insurance industry representatives.

Garamendi is proposing immediate action in seven areas to restructure the system, which experts agree is driving businesses out of California.

The seven areas include, improved financial oversight; medical cost containment; consistency in determining the level of permanent disability; improved coordination and communication with state agencies regulating the system; continued aggressive fraud interdiction; creation of a 24-hour medical care system merging health insurance with workers' compensation medical care; and development of professional training and quality standards for service decision makers.

"Medical costs, indemnity, litigation, and other service expenses are out of control and draining a workers' comp system that is destined to crash if we don't meet the issues head on and make some tough choices, said Garamendi. "California has the highest premium costs in the nation. However, benefits for injured workers remain in the lower third of all states. That is the definition of a broken system.

The full reports will be available at the Department of Insurance in Sacramento on Monday, March 3, 2003. CMTA has talked to members of the panels and is aware of ongoing discussions, but has not yet seen the reports.

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