New California Legislature For Workers’ Compensation
Among the bills recently introduced in the California legislature, two stand out. The first, SB788, would signal an intent by the legislature to root out biased and discriminatory practices in the Workers’ Compensation system. Specifically, the bill would not allow approximate percentages of permanent disability to be calculated using “race, religious creed, color, national origin, age, gender, marital status, sex, sexual identity, sexual orientation or genetic characteristics.” This same bill, or a version quite similar, has previously been proposed in past administrations but has never been signed into law. If passed, it would certainly have an impact on non-industrial apportionment based upon degenerative changes associated purely with time. I would imagine the insurance industry and the Chamber of Commerce will vigorously oppose the bill, as they have done in the past.
The second interesting bill is AB1465, which would require the Department of Workers’ Compensation to create a statewide medical provider network as an alternative to an employers’ network of treating physicians. How this will be accomplished and which physicians will be available for treatment remains to be seen. Because of the monumental difficulties in finding physicians willing to participate in the system and provide adequate care for injured workers remains, any help from the legislature in this regard would be a welcome addition.