Employee Relations 04/12/2013
Workers’ Comp Reform Update
Counties will recall that Governor Brown signed Senate Bill 863
(Chapter 363, Statutes of 2012) last September, the
CSAC-supported workers’ compensation reform measure that, among
other things, increased permanent disability benefits to injured
workers while making necessary administrative and procedural
changes within the system.
Much of the reform that will lead to cost savings for employers requires regulatory action to be taken by the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) and the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC). Accordingly, those departments formed working groups in early October to address implementation of the bill and began the process of drafting regulations, some of which have been adopted. CSAC has joined the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Coalition on Workers’ Compensation and other stakeholders in submitting comments to DWC on the regulations to ensure that the intent of SB 863 to lower frictional costs for employers is maintained. Thus far, the coalition has provided feedback to DWC regarding the:
- Supplemental Job Displacement Voucher
- Independent bill review
- Lien filing fees
- Qualified medical examiner and permanent disability determination
- Independent medical review
- Interpreter certification
- Ambulatory surgery center fee schedule
- Spinal implants fee schedule (completed)
A summary of SB 863 and its components can be found here. CSAC will keep counties apprised of the adoption of further regulations.
More on Workers’ Compensation
SB 809 (DeSaulnier) – Watch
As Introduced on February 22, 2013
Senate Bill 809, by Senator Mark DeSaulnier, would create the CURES Fund (Fund) within the State Treasury and require licensed health practitioners and pharmacists, prior to providing patients with Schedule II, III, or IV controlled substances, to access information regarding a patient’s history of controlled substance prescriptions. The bill is aimed at curbing workers’ compensation claimants’ misuse and abuse of prescribed opioids, an increasing concern to, and cost for, employers.
The Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES), maintained by the Department of Justice (DOJ), is an electronic monitoring system of Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances and provides for the electronic transmission of those controlled substance prescriptions data to the DOJ when they are dispensed.
SB 809 would require health practitioners that prescribe or dispense controlled substances and certain drug wholesalers to pay increased licensing, certification and renewal fees to the CURES Fund. The bill would also require qualified manufactures (those making controlled substances and doing business in California) and health insurers, workers’ compensation licensed insurers and health care service plans to pay an annual tax that would be administered by the State Board of Equalization and deposited into the Fund.
SB 809 will be heard in the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee.
AB 897 (Wagner) – Watch
As Amended on April 2, 2013
Assembly Bill 897, by Assembly Member Donald Wagner, would repeal the one-dollar fee administered by counties on all business license applications and renewals, a provision included in last year’s SB 1186 (Chapter 383, Statutes of 2012).
Counties will recall that SB 1186 addressed disability access issues and significantly changed state rules on Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) lawsuits. While SB 1186 mainly addressed compliance and litigation issues with respect to ADA, of importance to counties was an aspect of the bill that placed a one-dollar fee on all business license applications and renewals for the purpose of funding an increase in the number of certified access specialists (CASp) in local building departments and funding educational and training resources at the state and local level to promote ADA compliance.
AB 897 additionally repeals SB 1186’s requirements that local agencies develop and disseminate educational materials and information to facilitate disability access compliance and make an annual report to the Legislature and Chairs of the Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees as well as the Chair of the Senate Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review regarding the total fees that had been collected in the previous calendar years and their distribution.
AB 897 will be heard in the Assembly Judiciary Committee on April 17.
AB 639 (Pérez) – Support
As Introduced on February 20, 2013
Assembly Bill 639, by Assembly Speaker John A. Pérez, would place on the 2014 state ballot the Veterans Housing and Homeless Prevention Act (Act).
Voters approved the Veterans’ Bond Act of 2008, which provided $900 million in general obligation bonds to fund a program that enables veterans to purchase single family homes, farms and mobile homes. Since its passage, the full $900 million remains unspent.
AB 639 would restructure $600 million of the existing bonds to construct and rehabilitate multifamily veterans’ housing with a focus on veterans who are at risk of homelessness or are homeless and in need of services such as mental health counseling, substance abuse treatment, job training and who are struggling with unemployment.
AB 639 will be heard in the Assembly Housing and Community Development Committee on April 17.