Workers Comp Zone


The California legislative session will run til August, but by now we can see what bills have stalled out this year.

In July I’ll be looking at the major bills which are still alive, but the bills which didn’t progress in 2017 deserve mention and some comment too.

Keep in mind that there is always the possibility of a “gut and amend” maneuver. Also, some of these bills may be put in play in the next session beginning in January 2018. So stalled or dead doesn’t necessarily mean gone forever.

Here are some of the bills that didn’t advance, with a bit of brief commentary. I’ve included links to the bill texts.

AB 206 (Gonzalez Fletcher) This would have extended workers’ comp coverage to day laborers and other workers who were employed for less than 52 hours in a 90 day period.

Critics noted that the Assembly analysis pointed out that the bill could expand comp coverage to babysitters, teenagers who mow your lawn, and a host of other short time workers hired for a specific task. There were concerns as to the effect on homeowner  insurance costs since as a practical matter much of this liability would be shifted to homeowner insurance policies.

The bill had lots of union backers (as well as CAAA), and I expect there will be efforts to revive this bill in some form in the future.

Information about AB 206 can be found here:

AB 221 (Gray) This bill was aimed at reducing abusive cumulative trauma claims and abusive lien filings. It provided that for cumulative claims and occupational disease claims, an employer not be liable for liens unless the treatment was authorized, the claim or treated body parts were accepted, or subject to a favorable WCAB injury finding or determination by a QME or AME that it was work caused.

But in addition, there would be no liability for payment of medical treatment unless the claim settled for over $25,000 exclusive of the cost of past and future medical treatment. The goal was to discourage the filing of some cumulative claims where  attorneys are said to file c/t claims and then run up med-legal and testing expenses on questionable claims, eventually settling them for low amounts.

CAAA and the Teamsters favored this, arguing it might discourage frivolous c/t filings. Other unions and doctor groups opposed the bill, arguing that the SB 1160 and AB 1244 anti-fraud reforms should be allowed to reach full effect before this further reform.

The bill never reached a critical mass of support and it died.

The text and analysis of AB 221 can be found here:

AB 680 (McCarty) This bill would have required the DWC & CHSWC to hold a public hearing on the purpose and design of studies and the identity of the proposed study provider before contracting those studies out. Contracts would require approval by a majority vote of CHSWC.

The bill was aimed at providing sunshine and public input on proposed studies before they are contracted out.

This bill never made it to a committee vote.

Here you can find the text of AB 680:

AB 1295 (Chu) In the event that a UR treatment denial was overturned by IMR, this bill would have extended the 104 week limit on TD under specified circumstances.. It provided  that during the period while the UR denial was on appeal to IMR, those weeks not be counted against the 104 week aggregate TD limit if the worker prevailed in IMR.

This would have addressed situations where a treatment denial is unjustified . Proponents noted that some workers “burn up TD” while waiting in limbo to get treatment that is deserved but refused. If there are multiple unjustified treatment denials, the healing and return to work process can be delayed, and the worker may run out of temporary disability.

But the bill died in committee, never coming to a vote.

Here is the text and Assembly analysis of AB 1295:

AB 1260 (Medina) This bill, to amend Labor Code 139.43, would have increased maximum fines for false workers’ comp advertising from $10,000 to $15,000.

The bill never got out of committee.

Some of these bills deal with issues that won’t go away. So we’ll likely see them back in future sessions, albeit in slightly different fashion.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young