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February 24th was the deadline for bill introductions – most of which are submitted on the last day anyway – so it is still early in the scheme of things. However, there are a few workers’ compensation measures that have been introduced. As we have indicated, a more comprehensive reform bill will likely appear later in the legislative session, but in the meantime we will still see several of the same proposals as last year.
The following bills have been introduced:
AB 1454 (Solorio): This bill would include doctors of audiology who meet specified requirements among those medical professionals who may be appointed by the Administrative Director as a qualified medical evaluator in the workers’ compensation system. In addition, the bill would include licensed audiologists within that definition of physician for the purposes of workers’ compensation.
AB 1687 (Fong): Existing law requires that communications regarding decisions to approve requests by physicians specify the specific medical treatment service approved, and that responses regarding decisions to modify, delay, or deny medical treatment services requested by physicians include a clear and concise explanation of the reasons for the employer's decision, a description of the criteria or guidelines used, and the clinical reasons for the decisions regarding medical necessity. This bill would additionally require that communications or responses regarding decisions to modify, delay, or deny medical treatment services requested by physicians also include a clear and concise explanation of the available options for objecting to the modification, delay, or denial of those medical services.
AB 1734 (Hagman): This bill would require the Conservation and Liquidation Office to report and publish corporate claims on a quarterly basis through a public filing with the court in which an insurer's liquidation proceeding is pending. The bill would require the office to contact the claimants whose claims have been allowed, as provided. The bill would require the receiver, the Insurance Commissioner, or the Conservation and Liquidation Office, as applicable, upon receipt of notice that an allowed claim has been assigned to another party, to take specified actions within 30 days. The bill would prohibit the office from accepting a claim assignment request 30 days or less before distribution of the claim or 60 days after the claim distribution has been made, and would allow the office to charge a fee to the party requesting the reassignment of the claim to cover the reasonable costs of administering the reassignment, not to exceed $250. The bill would also provide that the office be held harmless from and indemnified against any harm or economic loss suffered by the claim purchaser due to misrepresentation by the assignor.
AB 1794 (Williams): This bill would make it a misdemeanor for a licensed contractor or a qualifier for a license to fail to notify his or her worker's compensation insurance carrier within 15 days of hiring an employee. This bill would also require an insurer who issues a workers' compensation insurance policy to any contractor to require that the contractor report the hiring of new workers within 15 days and would extend these provisions until January 1, 2015.
AB 1889 (Fong): Existing law prohibits an acupuncturist, as defined, from being authorized to determine disability for certain purposes relating to workers' compensation disability payments and benefits. This bill would delete this prohibition.
SB 1105 (Lieu): This bill would require the lien of a self-insured employee welfare benefit plan, upon any compensation benefits awarded to the applicant, to be allowed as a living expense lien. The lien shall be in the full amount of benefits paid to the applicant after the date of injury.
SB 1152 (Wyland): Spot bill relative to the official medical fee schedule.