A new decade is upon us, and with it, new opportunities to improve California's workers' compensation system to better serve and protect the people for which it was created.
It's been several years since the sweeping changes of SB 899 and SB 863 ultimately tipped the balance in favor of insurer profits over timely and adequate care for injured workers. Californians are now waiting months to obtain necessary medical care and often have to travel hundreds of miles to see a QME specialist. Bias in apportionment continues to be an issue with courts and judges given free reign to discriminate based on factors such as race, gender and age. And insurers continue to attack cumulative trauma (CT) claims and the workers who suffer such injuries after years of repetitive, back-breaking work.
Our vision for 2020 is simple: reduce delays in care, eliminate bias in apportionment and protect CT claims as a vital lifeline for injured workers.
We'll be working to move CAAA-sponsored Assembly Bill 1107 (Chu, D-San Jose and Gómez Reyes, D-San Bernardino) through the legislature to combat the ever-growing delays in care and to ensure people who suffer job-related injuries receive their benefits in a timely manner so they can heal and get back to work.
We'll also be working with the Division of Workers' Compensation to address the QME shortage as outlined by the State Auditor's report last November and specifically target a much-needed increase in QME specialists.
Senate Bill 731 (Bradford, D-Gardena), CAAA-sponsored legislation to eliminate bias in apportionment, was approved unanimously by the Senate last year and we're hoping to get similar results as we push the bill through the Assembly in 2020. The legislation would "prohibit consideration of race, religious creed, color, national origin, age, gender, marital status, sex, sexual identity, sexual orientation, or genetic characteristics to determine the approximate percentage of the permanent disability caused by other factors" before and after the industrial injury.
And we'll continue to highlight stories of injured workers who have suffered CT injuries and the impacts these injuries have had on their ability to work and earn their livelihoods. Having the ability to file a CT claim is vital to obtaining the just benefits injured workers are entitled to under the law.
These are just some of the goals we have for 2020, and there are many more issues we'll be working to address in the coming year. Our 2020 vision is ultimately to improve the workers' compensations system to provide the best care possible and protect injured workers.