Newsletter June 2006
VOLUME II, ISSUE II
When State Treasurer Phil Angelides addressed a packed CAAA summer convention in Las Vegas on June 24, 2005, his words gave hope to all those who represent injured workers. His victory over State Controller Steve Westly in the democratic primary election on June 6, 2006, has given California voters a legitimate alternative to anti-worker Gov. Schwarzenegger in November.
Here are excerpts from Angelides’ speech to the CAAA membership:
I appreciate your passion and your commitment to help those who have been injured in the course of their work. You and I know the truth of what made California and America the richest society in the history of humankind. It was the blood, the sweat, and the toil of the working men and women of this great state and this great nation.
I know this is a tough season for you, but most importantly the people you represent. I want to tell you that help is on the way. And come November
2006, we’re going to drive Arnold Schwarzenegger out of the state house, and we’re going to put California on the march again and make our state a beacon of progressive hope for this whole nation and this world.
Schwarzenegger has attacked the basic rights of injured workers, of the very people who built the strength of our society and sacrificed to make our
economy strong. But he has never uttered one word about the 100 – 200- and 300 percent increases in the premiums being charged by insurance companies. It is time for a new Governor who is on the side of working men and women in the state of California.
Instead of trying to take away care and fair compensation from injured workers, I will be a Governor who stands up for the millions of working men and women who will make us a power house in the 21st century. And I pledge to you, in the first month in office, I will appoint an administrative director for the workers’ compensation system who understands fairness and the dignity of workers. I promise to do it as fast as I get into office. I will stand with you.
The Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee hearing held on May 3, 2006, focused on the crippling effect of medical treatment denials currently plaguing injured workers and their doctors.
Acting Administrative Director of the Division of Workers' Compensation Carrie Nevans faulted insurers stating, “Many insurers have gone too far,”
referring to utilization review. Nevans was especially critical with regards to treatment denials issued for requested treatment by a physician in the employer’s medical provider network and said that new penalties were being formulated to combat improper treatment denials.
Committee Chairman Richard Alarcón stated, “Two years is inexcusable. We ought to come up with another system to get them (injured workers) treated faster. We are losing good workers forever."
In February, the results of a state-sponsored study conducted by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) were issued. After reviewing approximately 7,000 cases, CHSWC, comprised of employer and labor representatives, announced that their study revealed that the average permanent disability (PD) benefit level had dropped by 55 percent. Previously, the Workers’ Compensation Insurers Rating Bureau (WCIRB), comprised of representatives from insurance companies, estimated PD would be cut by 76 percent.
Gov. Schwarzenegger has previously said that his workers’ comp reform could be achieved without cutting benefits to “truly injured workers.” CHSWC provides clear evidence the Governor did not keep his word. He had been unwilling to revise the PD schedule claiming more data was needed. The data now exists.
On July 1, 2006, the Division of Workers’ Comp is required to review the disability-slashing regulations put in place as a result of SB 899 that took effect on January 1, 2005. Injured workers can only hope that Schwarzenegger will remember his promise not to cut benefits to “truly injured workers” and to work together with democratic lawmakers to fix the PD schedule.
The California Labor Federation’s 2006 Legislative agenda includes three key workers’ comp bills that the Federation is supporting, all of which will be of great benefit to injured workers. Senate Bill 1730 will address the devastating permanent disability cuts that the recent Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) study has shown were slashed by 55 percent.
Assembly Bill 2068 would allow injured workers to continue to predesignate his or her own doctor. Currently, injured workers’ right to predesignate will be eliminated as of April 30, 2007. A November 2005 study conducted by the Public Policy Institute of California concluded that employer costs are no higher when workers choose a doctor.
Senate Bill 1781 will address the delays and denials of treatment injured workers are facing. It would declare the intent of the Legislature to enact legislation that would improve process for determining appropriate and necessary medical treatment for injured workers.
Injured Workers unable to return to work are starting to suffer from the TD cap that took effect 4/19/06. Injured workers who are receiving TD and who are unable to work should apply for State Disability (SDI) before the two-year cap expires.
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Posted 06-01-2006 10:45 AM by caaaAdmin