Workers Comp Zone


Where is California workers’ comp headed in 2022? That’s the subject of the 2022 Workerscompzone quiz. Each year I kick off the year with a quiz for workers’ comp savants.

In some instances there may be more than one correct answer, or perhaps none. But perhaps you can see through the fog. Give it a whirl……

1. The WCAB has had an open slot since the 2021 departure of Juan Pedro Gaffney. In 2022, Gov. Newsom will: a) appoint an applicant attorney to the slot; b) use the slot for a retiring legislator; c) appoint a defense attorney; d) appoint someone serving in his administration; e) appoint someone from a labor union; f) none of these

2. Development of a copy service fee schedule has been in the works for several years. In 2022 we will find that: a) a new schedule is finalized based on a stakeholder consensus; b) Multiple copy services close (in addition to Med-Legal Copy service) due to unsustainable economic pressures without a new schedule; c) there is increased interest in a model for an online copy service “lockbox” with records accessible to all parties to the claim; d) the DWC will not finalize a new schedule this year; e) none of these

3. In person WCAB conferences and hearings will: a) resume in the first quarter of 2022 as Omicron and Delta variant ease considerably; b) not resume til late 2022 as new variants of COVID create further waves of concern; c) be the subject of discussion as some stakeholders propose a permanent remote option for hearings and conferences; d) none of these

4. In 2022 there will be increasing concern about: a) emerging evidence that long-term COVID claims will be numerous; b) the cost of Medical-Legal reports under the new QME fee schedule adopted in 2021; c) the impact of inflation on injured workers; d) attracting workers to the claims industry; e) emerging discussions about the next series of workers’ comp reforms; f) claims arising from remote work during the pandemic

5. On the legislative front, in 2022 we will see: a) very limited workers comp activity; b) a major legislative fight over a single-payer proposal, with workers’ comp hardly mentioned in that tussle; c) a major comp reform proposal pushed by some stakeholders; d) a focus on COVID presumptions; d) enactment of a bill addressing some issues with medical networks; e) great turnover in the legislature in 2022 creating uncertainty in 2023

6. By the end of 2022 we will notice that: a) more QMEs are coming into the system, attracted by the new MLFS; b) the pool of QMEs continues to shrink, as QMEs retire faster than new ones are added; c) significant case delays are created by lack of QMEs in many specialties and the unavailability of timely QMEs in others; d) QME costs in the SIBTF system come under fire; e) the WCIRB will note that Medical-Legal costs have risen more than other costs in the system; f) some stakeholders flirt with a return to a dueling QME system

7. By the end of 2022 we will find: a) reapportionment and legislative turnover lead to workers’ comp being an issue in legislative races; b) with Lorena Gonzalez heading the California Labor Federation, applicant attorneys will have stronger ties to labor; c) claim frequency drops due to workers’ leaving jobs during the “Great Resignation”; d) claim frequency increases due to the “Great Resignation”; e) system frictional costs moderate; f) there is increased focus on the large systemic cost item of insurer commissions and acquisition expenses

8. As 2022 ends, there will be: a) anticipation re DWC study of doctors who are “frequent flyers”, generating IMR disputes; b) focus on the growth of the SIFBT and employer assessments to fund the SIBTF; c) groups arguing for more racial diversity at the DWC/WCAB; d) advisory and average workers’ comp rates paid by employers continue to decline; e) advisory and average workers’ comp rates paid by employers spite upwards after 11 declines since 2015

9. Events that unfold in 2022 include: a) CHSWC commissions a study on how workers’ comp medical might be integrated into a single payer system, and the effect on indemnity claims; b) the fact that the Newsom California budget funds health coverage for the undocumented results in a decline in claims that enter the comp system; c) the CWCI and WCIRB delve deeper into factors that drive higher friction costs in the LA basin area; d) increased focus on MPN networks and why many doctors on networks refuse to take comp cases; e) new 2022 COVID variant leads to spike in claims just when we thought we were done with COVID; f) controversy about bailouts to EDD’s unemployment and state disability while workers’ comp benefits are not increased

10. 2022 events of note include: a) Though losing ground across the country in 2022, progressive Democrats take more seats in the California legislature and weaken the role of business Democrats at the Capitol; b) workers’ comp rising costs become an issue in a surprisingly competitive governor’s race; c) workers’ comp never makes it to the radar of the gubernatorial race; d) the issue of the constitutionality of Prop 22 (the Uber/Doordash initiative) heads back to the California Supreme Court; e) Cumulative trauma claims decline, deflating some stakeholders’ call for tightening the law on c/t claims; f) cumulative claims spike as workers who resigned jobs during the pandemic file claims

Start your engines….

And take a trip down memory lane. Here is the 2021 Quiz:

And here is the 2020 quiz:

Stay tuned.

Julius Young