Tuesday, August 14, 2007, 07:38 AM - Political developmentsEver suspect that employers could benefit from promoting a healthier workforce? Perhaps a healthier workforce might have less workers' comp claims and need less overall medical care, thus lowering group medical costs?
That's the theory. Workers' comp medical care in California has been slashed by the 2003 and 2004 reforms, but group medical costs continue to rise for those employers who provide medical coverage. Employers are looking around for creative solutions to promote a healthier workforce. Silicon Valley has done this for some time. Many high tech companies have on site gyms and catered healthy food.
Chevron now issues pedometers to employees who want to measure their activity level. These pedometers measure the amount of walking the employee does. The goal? Encouraging walking to promote fitness and weight loss. 40% of Chevron's employees are now participating. Hey, it's not the Boston Marathon, but it's a start.
You can see Ilana DeBare's piece in the San Francisco Chronicle on this by clicking here:
http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.c ... =printable
Saturday, August 11, 2007, 07:41 AM - Political developmentsA constipated legislature. A governor who can't move his agenda. A budget 6 weeks overdue. A legislature on summer recess that will reconvene with just 3 weeks to wrap up all business.
R.I.P. healthcare reform? And workers' comp?
To see the L.A. Times piece on this, click here:
http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me ... ome-center
Thursday, August 9, 2007, 11:31 AM - Political developmentsToday in Oakland the California Commission on Health, Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC or "Cheese Whiz") is holding hearings on key aspects of California workers' compensation.
For your reading pleasure I'm attaching a pdf version of some of the materials that were made available there this morning: Analysis of ratings under the new PD schedule
Thursday, August 9, 2007, 07:16 AM - Political developmentsChico, California. What comes to mind?
Bucolic small Northeastern California town? After all, the town of Paradise is just down the road. Or maybe you recall seeing that the Cal State campus there has been a perennial contender for one of the nation's top "party schools"?
But Chico also has a regional medical center, Enloe Hospital. From there comes a cautionary tale about the effect of the 2004 SB 899 comp reforms on medical treatment. You can read Vince Abatte's piece about this from the Chico News and Review at the bottom of this post.
Injured workers from many small communities in Northeastern California have sought treatment for chronic pain at Enloe Hospital's Occupational Health clinic. With the departure of the chronic pain specialist who staffed those cases, the hospital's clinic has no one to treat chronic pain cases. And the prospects for recruiting such a physician appear bleak.
Moreover, due to the restrictive ACOEM guidelines and the red tape of Utilization Review procedures, apparently few doctors in the local Butte County community are willing to accept the cases of workers' comp patients who need attention for long term chronic pain.
This confirms what I've been predicting for some time. The system's complications are affecting access to workers' comp services for individuals in sparsely populated areas of California. And just as claimants in rural areas will have difficulty finding treatment, so will they have trouble finding legal counsel as the cumulative effects of the reform discourage attorney involvement.
Since I've been doing this blog i have received e mails from workers from these kinds of places. Glenn County. Imperial County. Modoc County. They couldn't find a doctor or a lawyer or both. Isolated, some of these workers are the most in need.
Those sitting in ivory towers at the DWC and WCAB need to give some attention to this.
You can see the Chico article by clicking here:
Monday, August 6, 2007, 10:06 PM - Political developmentsCheese.The French may love their brie, the Spanish their Manchego, the Dutch their Edam, the British their Cheshire. But a whole generation of Americans grew up on Cheese Whiz. As a teenager I recall spraying a whole can on a pack of Ritz crackers.
But in workers' comp Cheese Whiz means something else. It's the endearing term for CHSWC, the Commission on Health, Safety and Workers' Compensation, an official advisory board that examines workers' comp issues in California. CHSWC studies and recommendations are often noted in legislative battles over workers' comp.
This Thursday (8/9/07) there will be an important CHSWC meeting (open to the public) in Oakland at 9 am in the auditorium at the Elihu Harris State Building. Among the presenters will be the acting director of the Division of Workers' Compensation, Carrie Nevans. Nevans will be reporting on "update on permanent disability studies." Following her will be CHWSC consultant Lachlan Taylor and UC Berkeley researcher Frank Neuhauser, both reporting on their research on how permanent disability has been affected by the 2004 reforms.
Both Assembly Speaker Fabian Nunez and State Senate Pro Tem Don Perata have pending bills which would raise permanent disability awards. But the California legislature is currently locked in seemingly intractable disputes over the state budget. And even if those bills are not a casualty of the budget, they may be killed by the Governor's veto pen.
Which makes meetings like the CHSWC Thursday meeting all the more important. What does Neuhauser's data show? Are permanent disability awards continuing to shrink? And will Nevans tip her hand as to what the administration is prepared to do to address the situation? Or will she indicate that nothing will be done until further studies are received?
There will also be a report on the law of apportionment, presented by longtime administration veteran Charles Swezey.
There is no charge to attend. You can see the agenda by clicking here:
http://www.dir.ca.gov/CHSWC/Meetings/20 ... 92007.html