AIA Reacts to Filings of Workers’ Comp Ballot Initiatives

December 4, 2001

The American Insurance Association (AIA) reacted Dec. 3 to the filings of two proposed ballot initiatives that would raise workers’ compensation costs in California without including systemic reforms.

“It is regrettable that there is no concerted effort to enact needed benefit increases and reforms to California’s workers’ compensation system in the Legislature that the Governor will sign,” said Mark Webb, vice president for state affairs. “AIA has agreed that injured workers are in need of an increase in benefits since negotiations to reform California’s ailing workers’ compensation system began in 1999.

“California’s workers’ compensation system is broken and it must be fixed. Carriers are insolvent, businesses are laying off workers, and local governments cannot balance their budgets. Now is not the time to add billions of dollars in increased costs while doing nothing to reform a fundamentally flawed system. Now is the time to realize that a healthy economy is what is important to both workers and employers in California.”

The AIA response was in response to a wife of an injured worker filing a pair of ballot initiatives that would increase workers’ comp benefits.

The major provision of the proposed initiatives is that maximum temporary disability benefits are indexed to the state’s average weekly wage, an issue that labor has been supporting for years in California. The maximum permanent disability benefit would be two-thirds of the maximum TD rate, under the initiatives. Death benefits would grow by 50 percent. While one filing looks to alter the state labor code, the other would change the state constitution with similar language.

Supporters of the petition still have to gather signatures for the initiatives to qualify for next November’s election.

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