Workers Comp Zone


AB 2086 is headed to Governor Brown’s desk.

But we’ve been here before.

Last year it was AB 1542.

I’m talking about legislation to restore neuropsychology as a QME specialty. The issue is of some importance because more research is coming to light that highlights the importance of neuropsychology issues in head trauma cases, particularly ones involving athletes.

In 2015 Governor Brown vetoed AB 1542 despite the fact it had sailed through the California Senate and Assembly with almost no opposition.

This year AB 2086 passed out of the Assembly on a 79 to 0 vote and out of the Senate on a 39 to 0 vote.

Folks, that’s a perfect record. No business groups have gone on record opposing the bill.

AB 2086 differs from last year’s bill in that it includes a section (Section 1) specifically stating that the legislature uses its plenary power and “hereby establishes the criteria for the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation to appoint qualified medical evaluators in the specialty category of neuropsychology.”  (see link below to the full text and history of the bill).

This is an interesting approach since the plenary power of the legislature to deal with workers’ compensation has been a salient point in cases upholding the constitutionality of the 2012 reforms.

What is also puzzling is that the Brown Administration has trotted out an opposition from the California Department of Finance (see link to the document below). The Department of Finance “Fiscal Summary” claims that:

“The Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) estimates minor and absorbable workload within its Division of Workers’ Compensation to develop new regulations. DIR anticipates this bill would result in costs to the workers’ compensation system due to an increase in requests for qualified medical examiner panels.”

Exactly how this would increase requests for panels is not made clear. In fact, it makes no sense since if a worker can not pick a neuropsychologist then they are going to pick a psychiatrist or psychologist though those do not have special expertise in this area.

But that isn’t even cited as the reason the DOF opposed the bill. The analysis DOF does just retreads arguments about the bill, sans any discussion of the new plenary power language. And most tellingly, the DOF analysis opposed the bill because it claims that it usurps the AD’s authority.

Here is what I mean:

“The Department of Finance is opposed to this this bill because it eliminates the authority of the Administrative Director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation to determine specialties within the qualified medical examiner process.”

Again, the plenary power language is not observed by the DOF.

The folks at the DWC can do better than this, surely.

Someone really has a bee in their bonnet about this bill. Or is there a group wanting to kill the bill without having their fingerprints on it? Or is this just power politics to demonstrate who runs the show?

There must be a back story here somewhere.

Here is link to the text and history of AB 2086:

And here is the Department of Finance opposition letter:


Here is the Assembly analysis prepared by Mark Rakich:


Stay tuned.

Julius Young