Injured Workers’ Advocates Call for End to Workers’ Compensation Bias Based on Gender, Language & Immigration Status; Denial of Injured Employees’ Medical Care; Outlawing “Capping and Running”
CAAA PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, March 17, 2015
Contact: Steve Hopcraft 916/457-5546, Steve@hopcraft.com; Twitter: @shopcraft
Sacramento, CA - The California Applicants’ Attorneys Association (CAAA), whose members represent Californians injured on the job, today called upon the Legislature to end bias against women, non-English speakers and undocumented immigrants injured while working. The attorneys also called for attention to continued delay and denial of 3.5 million medical treatment requests a year recommended by insurers’ own chosen doctors, and the failure of the Utilization Review (UR) and Independent Medical Review (IMR) programs to expedite and fairly decide medical treatment disputes. CAAA also called for passage of its measure to end “capping and running,” which contributes to fraudulent claims.
“Recent national reporting by Pro Publica and National Public Radio has documented insurers’ widespread delays and denials of medical care that would enable Californians injured doing their jobs to heal and return to work,” said CAAA President Bernardo de la Torre. “Insurance carriers spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year to delay and deny treatment. Insurers also discriminate against women, immigrants and non-English speakers who are injured at work. The result of these practices is a financial burden on injured workers and their families, group health insurance and taxpayer-funded health care and disability programs. Our legislation would curb these practices.”
“It is apparent that there are major problems with Utilization Review (UR), and with Independent Medical Review (IMR) of those denials,” said de la Torre. “Doctors make 20 million treatment requests each year, but UR denies over 3.5 million treatment requests annually. Excessive, costly UR has sentenced injured workers to medical purgatory, financial ruin, and has devastated working families. Denying 3.5 million doctors’ recommendations is an avalanche of denials keeping injured workers from healing and returning to work.”
CAAA called for passage of the following bills it is sponsoring:
AB 305 (Gonzalez) – CAAA is committed to ending gender bias in workers’ compensation. CAAA and the Teamsters’ Union are sponsoring AB 305, a measure addressing gender bias that deducts permanent disability compensation based on female-specific gender-based conditions. This bill will bar the use of breast cancer, menopause, osteoporosis or pregnancy as a basis for apportionment of permanent disability. It bars apportioning psychiatric injuries that are a consequence of sexual harassment. The California Professional Firefighters and the California Nurses’ Association also support this bill.
SB 623 (Lara) – CAAA is committed to eliminating discrimination against immigrants in the workers’ compensation system. SB 623 is a CAAA-sponsored bill that repeals Pete Wilson-era regulations barring undocumented immigrants from utilizing the Uninsured Employers Benefit Trust Fund (UEBTF) or the Subsequent Injury Benefit Trust Fund (SIBTF).
AB 438 (Chiu) – Injured workers cannot get the benefits they deserve if they cannot read the information sent to them, or when they go online. Injured workers must apply for temporary and permanent disability compensation within specific limited time periods. The notices of the requirements are often not in a language they understand, so they may not apply in time. AB 438 is a CAAA-sponsored bill that requires DIR, DWC and SCIF to translate all workers’ compensation notices and information into the top five languages spoken by California workers.
AB 686 (Daly) – The overwhelming majority of injured workers, attorneys, doctors and insurers in the workers’ compensation system play by the rules. A small minority, however, don’t, and there need to be consequences for those who break the law. One problem in workers’ compensation is soliciting and signing up clients who do not have a legitimate claim. It is called “running and capping.” It is already a crime for lawyers to participate in these schemes. AB 686 is a CAAA-sponsored bill to make it a crime for non-lawyers to engage in “capping and running” in workers’ compensation for an attorney or other person.
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