Thursday, September 2, 2010, 01:15 PM - Political developmentsAmong the workers' comp measures headed to Governor Schwarzenegger's desk is SB 1254.
Sponsored by Mark Leno of San Francisco, SB 1254 is a bill worthy of the Governor's signature.
Anyone paying the least attention to workers' compensation over the last few years has to have noted the recurring problem of uninsured employers. Failure to secure worker's comp coverage has been endemic in certain industries such as car washes and restaurants.
The construction industry is another area where there are major problems with uninsured employers or misclassified employees. Many of these employers are also unlicensed. And such employers frequently violate other labor standards laws.
A study prepared by Frank Neuhauser and Colleen Donovan at UC Berkeley for the California Commission on Health Safety and Workers' Compensation has noted that employer fraud imposes huge costs on the system and honest employers:
Here's a link to a piece I did several years ago on employer fraud:
http://www.workerscompzone.com/index.ph ... 818-110358
SB 1254 would put more teeth in anti-fraud efforts. It would provide that a stop-work order be issued to unlicensed contractors who have failed to secure comp coverage. Increased inspectors would be used to do Contractors State License Board investigations. It's a step in the right direction.
Here's a link to the text of SB 1254:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bil ... rolled.pdf
The measure passed in the California Senate with no opposition. Only one vote against the bill was noted in the California Assembly, Assemblyman Diane Harkey of Dana Point, a proponent of "rightsizing the government".
It's likely that the Governor will sign the bill.
Here's the official analysis:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bil ... _floor.htm
Sunday, August 29, 2010, 10:17 PM - Political developmentsWhen California needs all the income tax revenues it can get, you'd think that the Governor would fight to keep every job here in California.
But that may not be the case.
Last year Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed legislation to require that UR reviews be done by California-licensed physicians.
This seems like a no-brainer bill. After all, why should California export good-paying jobs to other states?
What's the benefit to California in having Texas or Florida doctors doing
utilization reviews? Whatta they got that we don't got?
Does the Governor really think that California doctors will be too generous with approvals of treatments requested by their brethren? If that's the argument. where's the evidence for that?
The Governor will get a second chance on this issue. A bill to require in-state reviews is headed to the Governor's desk. It's AB 933, carried by Assemblyman Paul Fong of Cupertino.
If my iPad and iPhone can be designed in Fong's district, right here in Cali, then surely we can give the business to UR reviewers right down the road.
Let's hope the Guv gets a change of heart on this one.
Here's the link to the text of AB 933:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bil ... en_v96.pdf
Here's the tally of the Assembly vote on the bill:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bil ... floor.html
And here's the California Senate vote tally:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/09-10/bil ... floor.html
Friday, August 27, 2010, 08:54 PM - Understanding the CA WC systemI've just returned from Ingmarland.
Years ago when I was in theological school (getting a master's as a Rockefeller Brothers fellow), I did a thesis on the philosophical underpinnings of Ingmar Bergman's films. For those of you who have never seen The Seventh Seal, Persona, Hour of the Wolf, Shame, Scenes from a Marriage or any of the other Bergman masterpieces, let's just say they are not your basic Adam Sandler fare.
Bergman has now passed away. We live in a world that is less Chekov, Pirandello, Ibsen or Strindberg and more Homer and Marge and Bart.
Ugly Betty would have passed on playing chess with Death.
This was my first journey to Bergman's home, Sweden. And my first time in Denmark.
Listening to wannabes covering Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg in a central Stockholm festival, I could have sworn I was in L.A.
But the semblance ended there.
Clean and safe streets...polite, stylish, well groomed, well educated people....efficient public transit.....a mixture of beautifully preserved old buildings and recent innovative architectural designs...
Stockholm and Sweden are both visually stunning. And the countryside in both countries is lush and appealing.
Aside from long, cold dark winters there's little to not like.
Heck, they even have the Icebars where George the Bartender could be serving cocktails in an ice glass sculpted out of a glacier.
But what's happening with workers' comp in Scandinavia and the Baltic states? Unfortunately there was not time to visit any hearing boards to see matters firsthand.
But for those of us in the workers' comp field I did find an interesting.
comparative analysis of Scandinavian and Baltic workers' compensation systems.
It's titled "Current Challenges for Nordic Workers Compensation Systems" by Janne Pekka. The presentation was done for an insurer, Munich Re:
http://www.munichre.com/app_pages/event ... _reini.pdf
What's so interesting is Pekka's comparative chart showing what is covered and what is not, whether there are private insurers or not, and how benefits are integrated with other available benefit systems.
Sweden and the Baltic states (Latvia, Lithuania & Estonia) currently do not have private insurers involved in workers' comp.
Pekka lists hot issues in the 3 Scandinavian countries that do have private insurers in the comp market:
-Denmark's change of the definition of "accident"
-the impact of lower premium volume on Finnish insurers and debates
over changes in Finnish comp law
-profitability challenges for Norwegian insurers and issues surrounding
transition to centralized claims handling
In California we sometimes get obsessed with our own system, forgetting that other places have figured out other ways to compensate their workers.
Everyone is trying to get it right, not just us.
Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 03:01 PM - Political developmentsToday's blog post by Joel Fox on "Fox and Hounds" is worth noting.
Fox is publisher of "Fox and Hounds" and is the President of the Small Business Action Committee.
Fox wistfully notes that pro-business forces had enough signatures to pursue a ballot initiative in 2004 and had been advised by some legislators to file "because they believed our initiative reform was stronger than what was coming out of the legislature".
Whether intended as a threat or not, Fox closes his blog post with this:
"With the threat of troubling workers' comp increases facing business again; we will see if that was the right move."
Here's a link to Fox's piece:
http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/blog/j ... comp-redux
Tuesday, August 24, 2010, 12:34 AM - Political developmentsIn an astute article, savvy Sacramento Bee columnist Dan Walters notes
the cycle that seems to prevail in California workers' comp.
After reforms, some system stakeholders nurse their wounds. Pressure builds until there's another set of players demanding reform.
It's a cycle I noted in my recent post, "Hurricane Season":
http://www.workerscompzone.com/index.ph ... 815-091042
You can find Dan Walter's piece, "Workers' Compensation War Poised for Blowup" here:
http://www.sacbee.com/2010/08/23/297575 ... %20Walters