Reworked Workers’ Comp Proposal Surfaces

By | August 23, 2012

What appears to be a cut down and reworked version of a workers’ compensation proposal has been put into bill form and is being circulated around the state capital.

The “tentative draft SB 863” proposal as it’s being called appears to be intended for insertion into Senate Bill 863, a piece of legislation regarding workers’ comp liens authored by Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee Chair Ted Lieu, D-Torrance, that was taken off the active file.

The proposal was apparently circulated on Wednesday or Thursday, those familiar with it say.

The proposal will attempt to fulfill the the need for roughly $700 million in additional permanent disability benefits for injured workers, and $1.4 billion in system wide savings.

An ongoing Insurance Journal survey shows people overwhelmingly believe workers’ compensation premiums will rise if no reforms come. The poll so far shows what people believe should be the most worthwhile reforms considered in a bill: 28 percent say fraud fighting measures should be considered versus 25 percent who say looking at ways to lower medical costs would be the most worthwhile reform considered. Click here to take survey

Lieu’s office has previously downplayed the senator’s involvement in the deal and on Thursday it continued to stay silent on the matter.

In fact, silence is largely the position being taken by all involved with negotiations, and even some who are at an arm’s distance from talks that have been reportedly ongoing since October with labor and a handful of large, self-insured employers.

This draft is more than 100 pages less than a nearly 300-page proposal that was being passed around two weeks ago. Much of the language addresses self-insured employers, but is still being examined by members of the insurance industry who were not privy to the changes.

“We have asked for copies with highlighted changes and that has not been provided,” said one person familiar with the negotiations who asked to remain anonymous

So far the only group to state outward opposing to the original proposal has been the California Applicants’ Attorneys Association, which said in an email to members two weeks ago stating that “workers will get less than they do under current law.”

CAAA did not respond to a call or email seeking comment on the latest proposal.

Following CAAA’s email a hearing on the proposal was canceled and reports emerged that the two parties who negotiated the deal were reworking it to address CAAA concerns.

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