On a recent online bloggers’ panel, panelists were asked for some closing thoughts on workers’ comp in 2020.
What came to mind for me? That the comp system has been a rock of stability for many people during the medical, economic and political turmoil of 2020. Thanksgiving is a good time to remember that.
America and California are not in a good place right now.
We live in a schizophrenic society. The stock market is hitting all-time highs while the virus spins out of control. Some sectors of the economy are booming and others are shut down. Kids (but not the Governor’s) are out of school. Many families are crammed together. Others have the luxury of working from wherever they choose. Parts of San Francisco are a ghost town.
Many families face a financial cliff if some stimulus programs are not renewed. Scores of city and county budgets are in terrible shape. Hardly anyone is riding public transit. Food banks are overwhelmed.
Essential workers are exposed to increased health risks, and many are stressed. Los Angeles is banning outdoor dining shortly after the Governor dined with lobbyists in what is likely California’s most expensive restaurant. The line between reliable information and misinformation is often breached. Anger is high. As is fear.
You already know these things.. But I outline it as a frame as we are entering Thanksgiving 2020.
Amidst all this, the workers’ comp system has been a source of stability for many.
Claims payors, judges, attorneys, and doctors have adapted to the challenges of the COVID era.
Conferences, hearings and depositions are being handled remotely. Benefits are being paid, and medical treatment provided.
Cases are settling.
It is not all perfect, but we can be thankful that the system has adapted as well as it has.
All of this reminds me of some things about the California system that I noted in a 2013 post, which I will quote here:
“There are also many things to be thankful for, and here are a few:
-a corps of workers’ comp judges who are mostly diligent and concerned for the welfare of California workers
-a system of “user funding” that has given the WCAB some relative stability in comparison to the funding problems recently plaguing California’s civil justice system
-a workers’ comp press that assiduously follows developments in the field, publishing helpful updates and analysis
-a workers’ comp bar that largely (although with some outliers in the applicant and defense bar) is decent, honorable and devoted to the interests of clients
-a medical system that for all its delays, flaws and some excesses, may well be more inclusive for many workers than other forms of coverage which they would access
-at a time where there really is no consensus about how to handle large numbers of undocumented immigrants, the workers’ comp system generally treats them with respect
-the very idea that a worker does not need to prove their employer or someone else was at fault to recover benefits or get medical treatment”
Yes, there are problems with the California system, not the least of which is that it costs 53 cents to deliver $1 of benefits. The system is not static, and can be improved.
But today, I’m putting in a plug for the good things about the system.