Recent Workers’ Compensation Bills

This year has seen several significant workers’ compensation bills go across the Governor’s desk. The Governor vetoed several and approved others. Having a grasp on the current legislative activity can provide important insight into the law’s trend and potential future activity.

One bill he vetoed was Assembly Bill 1643. This bill proposed several additions to the current workers’ compensation system, including that breast cancer and prostate cancer receive equivalent impairment ratings and it would also have prohibited apportionment in certain women’s conditions such as pregnancy and osteoporosis. The Governor reasoned that breast and prostate cancer are different conditions with different medical repercussions and should not be treated the same way. He also reasoned that gender discrimination was already illegal, and the conditions concerning certain women’s conditions were unnecessary.

Another veto was for Senate Bill 897. This bill would have provided that if a firefighter or police officer was disabled by a qualifying catastrophic injury, the special leave benefits would be doubled from one to two years. The Governor reasoned that the financial stress this would place on already financially strapped departments would be too great, especially in light of the fact that there was only one example of an officer losing benefits while out on temporary disability.

The Governor did sign AB 1244, which is aimed at reducing workers’ compensation fraud. AB 1244 would require the administrative director to suspend any physician or provider from participating in the workers’ compensation system if that person had been convicted of a crime involving fraud or abuse of Medi-Cal program, Medicare, or workers’ compensation system. Such a provider or physician would also be suspended from participation if its license had ever been suspended for fraud or abuse.

The Governor also signed SB 1160. This bill provides that if criminal charges are filed against a physician or provider for an offense involving medical fraud, there would be an automatic stay against a lien filed by that physician or provider. The bill also prohibits assigning or factoring a lien after January 1, 2017, except in certain circumstances. These circumstances would include when the provider or physician is no longer in that line of business.

If you have questions about the current state of the law or how the new laws may impact your business, contact me today at 714-516-8188. I can review these laws with you and discuss how it may change your workers’ compensation plan.

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