Employers Commend Progress To-Date on Workers' Comp Reforms
The Workers' Compensation Action Network (WCAN) today applauded the administration of Governor Jerry Brown for achieving a key milestone toward implementation of Senate Bill 863, a comprehensive legislative reform to California's $16 billion workers' compensation system. WCAN also launched a new campaign to support full implementation of the SB 863 reforms by January 2014 to maximize its potential costs savings for employers and improvements for injured workers.
“SB 863 contained critical reforms for improving efficiency and reducing unnecessary costs in California's workers' compensation system, which are necessary to offset the $1 billion benefit increase provided under the bill and dampen the trend of increasing costs to employers,” said Allan Zaremberg, president of CalChamber and WCAN co-chair. “Although the benefit increases kick-in automatically, most of the cost-saving reforms require regulatory implementation, and Governor Brown's team has made notable progress against an extremely tight deadline.”
On Friday, the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) submitted emergency regulations to the Office of Administrative Law (OAL) making changes to the Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher. The DWC also has announced plans to submit regulations to OAL on December 20 instituting new systems for resolving medical treatment and billing disputes, filing fees from service providers who file liens and new requirements for medical examiners and interpreters. These changes mark the first of nine regulations DWC intends to adopt for SB 863 provisions with an effective date of January 1, 2013.
In addition to submission of regulations to OAL, the DWC has published draft regulations to implement SB 863 reforms including payment changes to surgery centers and hospitals that perform spinal implant procedures, and new requirements for interpreters and chiropractors. Some of these changes will be adopted on an emergency basis, followed by formal rulemaking in 2013.
“Average employer costs for workers' compensation coverage are expected to be 11 percent higher in 2013 and California is back among the three most expensive states in the country,” said Jack Stewart, president of California Manufacturers and Technology Association and WCAN co-chair. “Realizing the full cost savings of SB 863 is vital to preventing further cost increases in the near term and making workers' compensation costs for California employers more competitive in long term. Full implementation will require a sustained focus through next year and there is significant work remaining.”
To support continued momentum through the last effective date of January 2014 and maximize system savings, WCAN launched a new campaign called “14 by ‘14” reflective of 14 major reform areas addressed by SB 863 and the final implementation date of January 1, 2014. As part of the campaign, WCAN will:
- Track the implementation status of 14 key reform provisions
- Work with trade organizations to provide comments on proposed regulations
- Flag antagonistic efforts to undermine the reforms through the legislature or court system
- Provide updates on the reforms to system stakeholders, lawmakers and the news media
- Maintain a microsite dedicated to SB 863 reform implementation (14by14.org)
The campaign site will house information regarding the 14 key reform provisions, their effective dates and the status of implementation.
“The system reforms intended to streamline administration and reduce litigation costs are estimated to deliver $1.7 billion in savings for employers,” said Martin Brady, executive director of Schools Insurance Authority and chair of California Coalition on Workers' Compensation. “Full implementation of SB 863 will ensure we hit this mark, allowing us to redirect system dollars away from attorneys and other vendors and directly to injured workers.”
The Workers' Compensation Action Network (WCAN) is a statewide, broad-based coalition representing California employers, insurers and brokers/agents on issues relating to the state's workers' compensation system. WCAN educates policymakers, the media and members of the business community on problems affecting the efficiency, fairness and cost of the system for employers and injured workers and helps build the public case for specific legislative or regulatory reforms to improve the system and California's overall employment climate. WCAN does this through development of educational materials, outreach to the news media, direct communications to its employer and broker grassroots members, co-sponsorship of an annual legislative day, presentations by members of its speakers' bureau, and online engagement through its website and social media properties.
For Workers' Compensation Action Network (WCAN)