Tuesday, October 9, 2007, 08:20 AM - Political developmentsHeidi Fleiss' father, a Los Angeles pediatrician, is being disciplined over his record-keeping practices. But you probably already knew that via some tabloid journal.
We love to see celebrities stuck in the tar pits of life. I'd bet that more Californians are yakking about Fleiss over the breakfast table than debating the progress of the special session on health care reform.
The legislature is in special session, but you would hardly know it. If there is movement towards a health care reform deal, it's under tight wraps.
Assembly Speaker Nunez said earlier this year that a deal could possibly be reached in just a few minutes between himself and the Governor. But with all the interest groups involved, walking the gauntlet to a deal and turning it into workable form is a big mountain to climb.
Could the special legislative session fail altogether, leaving Schwarzenegger with nothing to show for this effort? Perhaps. The other subject of the special session, water policy, appeared yesterday to be devolving into competing ballot initiatives for 2008. Neither the Governor nor Senate Pro Tem leader Perata may have the votes to pass a bill or even put an initiative on the ballot. Special interests may need to qualify an initiative. That's great for campaign consultants, ad agencies, and broadcast outlets.
Should there be no success in the special session on water policy or health care reform, cynics will say that it once again proves that California is ungovernable. An unpopular legislature will become more unpopular. And it will become more evident that one of Schwarzenegger's only "victories" is his 2004 workers' comp reform.
So don't hold your breath expecting the Governor to sign a significant increase in PD benefits. Yesterday, the Governor signed a lot of bills, but over 500 remain on his desk for action this week.
Friday, October 5, 2007, 06:53 PM - Political developmentsHe's back. From China, that is.
Today the Governor's website notes almost 60 bills either signed or vetoed, but nothing yet about the fate of various workers' compensation and employment law bills that sit on his desk.
AB 537 is one of those bills that remains on his desk. The bill would broaden family medical leave to reflect the realities of today's extended families. Sponsored by Assemblymember Sandre Swanson of Oakland, it's a great bill. You can see Swanson's explanation of the bill in a piece on the California Progress Report by clicking here:
http://www.californiaprogressreport.com ... nia_f.html
To see a report by the California Senate Office of Research which shows the need for this bill (and for Senate Bill 727 by Senator Sheila Kuehl), click here:
http://sor.govoffice3.com/vertical/Site ... 7B8D1D4955
And take a look at Kate Karpilow's article in the California Progress Report:
http://www.californiaprogressreport.com ... famil.html
Thursday, October 4, 2007, 07:39 AM - Political developmentsWill the DWC acting administrative director Carrie Nevans be recommending only a 10% increase in PD benefits?
That's the suggestion in an article in today's Los Angeles Times. The article quotes prominent insurance executive Mark Webb as saying that insurers could support an increase of up to 30%.
As my post earlier this morning noted, I'll be attending a CHSWC meeting this morning that will deal with this topic.
Take a look at the L.A. times article by Marc Lifsher by clicking here: http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-c ... s-business
Thursday, October 4, 2007, 07:23 AM - Political developmentsToday in Oakland, the California Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) will be meeting at 10 am.
Among the topics will be an "update on permanent disability." Presenters will include CHSWC consultant Lachlan Taylor. It had been anticipated that
DWC acting director Carrie Nevans would appear. But DWC spokesperson Susan Gard was quoted in a piece in yesterday's workcompcentral.com as saying that Nevans will not appear today.
There will also be a report to CHSWC on injury underreporting in California. This is an issue of interest to many health plans and union trust funds. If work injuries are not reported, costs are shifted to group medical plans and union trust funds, stressing the finances of those funds.
I'll be attending the meeting, so check back later today for an update. I'll try to upload any significant documents that are distributed.
Click here to look at the agenda:
http://www.dir.ca.gov/CHSWC/Meetings/20 ... 42007.html
Wednesday, October 3, 2007, 07:54 AM - Medical treatment under WCOne accelerating trend in California workers' comp has been the exodus of doctors from the system. Complaints of low pay and the cost and frustration of treating injured workers has caused many doctors to refuse comp patients.
Many workers find that the doctors on insurer MPN networks aren't really willing to accept new cases. Try finding a psychiatrist, a urologist or a dermatologist to treat an injured worker. Good luck.
How bad is the physician exodus? The number of orthopadists taking comp cases has dropped in the last few years from about 92% to 65%. Barely a third of neurologists will touch a comp case.
Many doctors don't look forward to the pleasure of being told by an out-of-state utilization review company that they must call to discuss a patient's treatment on a particular day during limited hours. And if the doctor does call the UR review company, he may be put on hold or told to call back when the UR review doc is available. Many doctors I've spoken with say that's the real world of UR.
But pay is a big issue causing the physician exodus.
UCLA neurologists Dr. Ronald Kent and Dr. Steven E. Levine recently authored a major study on "Workers' Compensation Medical Fee Schedules: Implications for California." You can find a pdf version of the study by clicking here:
http://www.insuranceheadlines.com/files ... s_0707.pdf
The California Division of Workers' Compensation has hired a consulting group to study the issue. That study is due by early next year. A big question is whether the Schwarzenegger administration will insist that any changes be "revenue neutral." To keep doctors in the system, it's likely it can't be revenue neutral.
What's not clear is whether the Lewin Group's study will result in the DWC taking action that will stem the exodus from comp. Some doctors I've talked to appear to be relieved once they've left the system. They no longer are forced to write reports and abide by other regulatory burdens of the comp system.
And in many of the specialties such as psychiatry and dermatology, doctors are already in short supply. Why would a doctor who can do face-lifts and botox injections sign up to do work on an MPN?
I'll continue to blog on this issue as more emerges. And check out my earlier post "Hasta La Vista Chico":
http://www.workerscompzone.com/index.ph ... 809-071625
You may also enjoy looking at "Wouldn't Touch It With a Ten Foot Pole":
http://www.workerscompzone.com/index.ph ... 830-073942