Brown Preserves Workers' Comp Reforms

 

Governor Brown surprised many of his Democratic supporters with his actions on workers’ compensation measures.  He signed several bills that control costs of the system, while vetoing several costly measures favored by the unions and attorneys.  The Governor’ actions on these bills signify that he is staying true to his word—that he will not impose any cost increases on employers while the administration continues to work towards a deal on permanent disability.

Governor Brown signed the following measures into law:

AB 228 (Fuentes): Authorizes the State Compensation Insurance Fund to provide workers' compensation coverage for employees working out of state if the employer has its principal place of business in California and the majority of its operations and employees are in California.

AB 335 (Solorio): Requires the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers' Compensation to adopt, by regulation, new notices and rules governing notices that are provided to employees in the workers' compensation system. 

AB 378 (Solorio): Regulates the dispensing of compounded medications and other pharmacy goods in the workers' compensation system.  

AB 397 (Monning): Requires contractors to provide proof of workers’ compensation coverage to obtain license renewal. 

AB 585 (Fong): Provides a cancer presumption for firefighters at NASA installations.

AB 878 (Berryhill): Requires a workers' compensation insurer to report to the Contractors' State License Board a licensed contractor whose insurance policy it cancels. 

AB 1168 (Pan): Requires the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers' Compensation to adopt a fee schedule for services and testimony by vocational experts in the workers' compensation system.

AB 1426 (Solorio): Eliminates the appointed position of Court Administrator within the Division of Workers' Compensation, and reassigns the CA's duties to the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) or Administrative Director of the DWC, as appropriate.

SB 457 (Calderon): Requires the Workers Compensation Appeals Board to determine, on the basis of liens filed, reimbursement for benefits paid or services provided by a self-insured employee welfare benefit plan, notwithstanding the Official Medical Fee Schedule, when an award is made for reimbursement for self-procured medical costs for the effects of an injury or illness arising out of and in the course of employment.  This bill states that its provisions do not modify in any way the rights of any health care provider to file and prosecute a lien.

SB 826 (Leno): Establishes penalties for the failure of an employer to report claim information to the Workers' Compensation Information System.

The Governor vetoed the following measures:

AB 211 (Cedillo): Provides, for injuries that cause permanent partial disability and occur on or after January 1, 2012, for a supplemental job displacement benefit in the form of a voucher for up to $6,000 to cover various reeducation and skill enhancement expenses which would expire two years after the date the voucher is furnished to the employee or five years after the date of injury, whichever is later.

AB 584 (Fong): Requires physicians conducting utilization reviews in California to be licensed.

AB 947 (Solorio): Adds certain surgical cases to the list of conditions that are exceptions to the 104 week cap on temporary disability benefits, thereby allowing up to 240 weeks of temporary disability benefits.

AB 1155 (Alejo): States that the percentage of disability determined by a physician to have been due to factors other than the industrial injury shall not include consideration of race, religious creed, color, national origin, age, gender, marital status, sex, sexual orientation, or genetic characteristics.

SB 127 (Emmerson): requires the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers' Compensation to annually adopt the Current Procedural Terminology codes, descriptors, and modifiers published by the American Medical Association.