Sunday, October 21, 2007, 03:06 PM - Political developmentsMost Californians are too busy enjoying the Indian Summer weather to focus on workers' comp right now. Up here in the People's Republic of Berkeley and down on Figueroa in the land of Troy, there's deep mourning that Cal and USC's football teams aren't the invincible units we projected them to be.
But some important comp developments are unfolding, so we'll cover them for you.
The California Workers' Comp Rating Bureau (WCIRB) has noted that the 2004 comp reforms saved $2.2 billion.
Several studies-including an ongoing survey by UC Berkeley researchers-have shown that disabled workers are receiving about half of what they had previously received to compensate for permanent disabilities.
It's in that context that DWC Administrative Director Carrie Nevans noted last week at a Huntington Beach conference that planned changes to the PD rating schedule will likely increase system costs by $150 million. These changes may be announced any day now. I'll be covering this issue in detail as the new schedule is announced.
Workers with back injuries will see their ratings upgraded somewhat. Workers with knee injuries and psyche injuries will see their ratings downgraded. And workers with "zero impairment" who are bounced out of their jobs because of work restrictions will receive no relief.
But Nevans' message is clear. Insurer profits will be protected on her watch. For those new to the blog, take a look at my article, "California Workers' Comp System "Fixed" So That Insurer Profits Are Greater Than Benefits Paid to Injured Workers," which you can find by clicking here:
http://www.workerscompzone.com/index.ph ... 518-115548
Nevans may have to answer to others in Schwarzenegger's administration and thus may not have the authority to do more. But there's been a lack of public musing on her part about benefit adequacy in a system that now ranks lower than most other states in most categories for compensating disabled workers.
There's been more public comment about benefit adequacy from insurer advocates-insurer executive Mark Webb and defense attorney Clifford Sweet come to mind-than from Nevans, who presumably is charged with running a system that benefits workers and employers alike.
Relative to the savings that have been generated and the carrier profits that have been pocketed, Nevans' $150 million increase is truly crumbs.
Monday, October 15, 2007, 08:52 PM - Political developmentsGovernor Schwarzenegger vetoed a number of family-friendly bills over the weekend. The overall picture is of a governor who puts corporate values over family values.
I did an article on this for today's California Progress Report. Click here to read about the Schwarzenegger vetoes:
http://www.californiaprogressreport.com ... er_58.html
Over the long term, Arnold will have trouble casting himself as a moderate, pro-family governor if he cannot distance himself from his corporate controllers. In future posts, I'll be discussing many of the vetoes in more detail. In the meanwhile, you can subscribe to the blog by using one of the RSS reader buttons on the lower right hand scrollbar.
Sunday, October 14, 2007, 09:15 AM - Political developmentsMy last couple of posts mentioned Schwarzenegger's Friday veto of the Perata bill to raise permanent disability benefits and the VIAW-sponsored bill to speed issuance of retraining vouchers.
Yesterday he did sign 2 comp reform bills, AB 1073 (Nava) and AB 338 (Coto).
AB 1073 will allow the Division of Workers' Compensation to develop rules for post surgical physical therapy, in effect lifting the Draconian caps on therapy that applied even where a worker had surgery after previously using the alloted therapy visits.
AB 338 (Coto) will allow a worker to use 2 years of temporary disability over a 5 year period from the commencement of TD.
In later posts, I'll be looking at the fine points of these new changes.
Meanwhile, you can see the legislative analysis of AB 338 by clicking here:
http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bil ... floor.html
And to see the legislative analysis of AB 1073, click here:
http://leginfo.ca.gov/pub/07-08/bill/as ... floor.html
These bills were signed on a day that the Governor vetoed several worker-friendly employment law bills, including the bereavement leave bill sponsored by State Senator Ellen Corbett (SB 549) and the bill that would have expanded family leave to enable workers to care for a sibling, grandparent or grandchild, SB 727 (Kuehl). Overall, it was a bleak weekend for employees and injured workers.
The Governor's carefully crafted moderate image masks an agenda that hews closely to the script of the California business and insurance lobbyists.
More on all this later. You can subscribe to the blog by ussing the RSS reader buttons on the lower right hand corner of the scrollbar.
Friday, October 12, 2007, 08:14 PM - Political developmentsHere is the statement by Fabian Nunez commenting on the Schwarzenegger veto of SB 936, a bill that would have provided a benefit increase for permanently disabled workers:
Friday, October 12, 2007, 05:00 PM - Political developmentsThis afternoon Governor Schwarzenegger vetoed 2 worker's comp bills.
SB 936 (Perata), the bill to increase permanent disability benefits over a period of several years, was nixed by the Governor. The press release issued by the Governor's office claiming that the bill was a "job killer" can be seen here:
Also vetoed was SB 1636 (Mendoza), a bill pushed by Voters Injured At Work. AB 1636 would have accelerated the issuance of job retraining vouchers to workers unable to return to their jobs due to injury at work.
These vetos were not surprises. But the veto of both bills highlights the fact that Schwarzenegger continues to take his cues from insurance industry and Chamber of Commerce interests. More analysis later.