Workers' Compensation Action Network News for July 2011

The Legislature goes on break, but will return to a full agenda. With a budget approved, lawmakers adjourned on July 15 for a month-long recess. When they resume action on August 15, however, lawmakers will have a full agenda of legislation to act upon before the session ends on September 9, including numerous workers’ compensation bills. Legislation that would increase benefit payments, limit the use of apportionment, curb abusive practices in prescription drug billing and stem the flood of costly medical liens will all be considered by fiscal committees and voted on in each house. In today's The Sacramento Bee, political columnist Dan Walters sees the issue of workers' compensation "heating up" in the Capitol.

Click here to read about the bills WCAN is tracking and TAKE ACTION!

Governor Brown appoints an Administrative Director for the DWC. On July 18, Governor Jerry Brown appointed Rosa Moran, a workers’ compensation judge and attorney, to lead the Division of Workers’ Compensation. This position is vested with considerable authority over the operations of the DWC, which include regulatory activities, the workers’ compensation courts and direct services to injured workers. To read more about Moran’s appointment, click here.

Changes coming to workers’ compensation pure premium rate filings. Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones announced earlier this week that the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) will revise how it recommends changes in the pure premium rate, which serves as a guide for workers’ compensation insurance rates. The pure premium rate, sometimes also called the “claims cost benchmark,” represents the average increase or decrease the WCIRB recommends for insurance premiums to adequately cover costs in the workers’ compensation system. Historically, the WCIRB’s recommendation has been benchmarked against the most recent advisory rate published by the Insurance Commissioner. Since previous Commissioner Steve Poizner did not publish an advisory rate after 2008, several WCIRB rate increases have accumulated and currently indicate the need for a nearly 40 percent increase in the pure premium rate. Under the new system, the WCIRB will recommend changes based on the average rates actually filed with the Department of Insurance. Read more here .

Workers’ compensation looms large in NFL lockout. Among the final set of issues to be resolved between NFL owners and players was where players could file workers’ compensation claims for their workplace injuries. This issue has been in the headlines recently, as players from teams based in other states have been filing claims in California due to its more liberal rules. You can read more here.