CSAC Bulletin Article

Significant Expansion to Workers’ Compensation Presumption for Public and Private Hospitals on the Move

This week, the Senate approved SB 213 (Cortese) to move off the Senate floor and over to the Assembly with a final vote of 21 senators, narrowly allowing its move into the Assembly.  At its core, this bill will impose significant financial burdens on employers in the health care industry who are already struggling under the effects of labor shortages and the COVID-19 pandemic.  For California Counties, this means costs to taxpayers. 

Unlike most historical California legislation around workers’ compensation presumptions, SB 213 applies to both public and private employers. As such, it has been met with significant opposition through its time in the Senate based upon its lack of factual evidence to support the need.

This legislation creates a legal workers’ compensation presumption for all acute care hospital employees that provide direct patient care. Presumption expansions proposed in the legislation include blood-borne infectious disease, tuberculosis, meningitis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), cancer, musculoskeletal injury, post-traumatic stress disorder, or respiratory diseases, including COVID-19, chronic pulmonary disease, and asthma. Equally as important, the bill extends these presumptions for up to 10 years after employment depending on the type of injury.

Currently, injuries occurring within the course and scope of employment are already covered by workers’ compensation insurance, regardless of fault. By creating a legal presumption, establishing causation for specific injuries or illnesses would no longer be needed.  Instead, these injuries and illnesses are presumed under the law to be work-related. 

Beyond being costly to employers and nearly impossible to prove a negative, this legislation aims to further erode the current workers’ compensation system in California. With no factual evidence that this type of presumption is needed, CSAC opposes this legislation and will continue to advocate on behalf of California Counties in opposing unnecessary, unproven, and costly legislation.

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