Workers Comp Zone


In the next few days Governor Brown will probably act on two bills of great interest to the workers’ comp community.

According to an Assembly floor analysis, AB 2616 (Skinner) would  “extend to certain hospital employees who provide direct patient care the presumption that methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) infections are presumed to be job related.” The hospital employees would have to be providing direct patient care at a general acute care hospital.

The Assembly floor analysis notes that California Senate amendments add the proposed new presumptive injuries to the list of existing presumptive injuries for which a treating physician is not required to apportion causation for disability purposes to either nonindustrial, or prior industrial, injuries.

As for fiscal effect,  “According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, this bill would apply to several state-run facilities, namely, state hospitals, developmental centers, and correctional treatment facilities that are all funded through General Fund (GF) dollars. The number of additional MRSA cases among state-employed direct care nursing staff is as a result of the presumption is likely to be small. However, if even one additional MRSA-related workers’ compensation claims was filed and approved as a result of this presumption, the cost could easily be in excess of $200,000 GF. ”

The MRSA presumption bill has been considered by the legislature in various forms since 2009.

What is unclear is whether this is an issue supported by Brown. It’s likely that the Governor is getting some pushback from various stakeholders who want to see less presumptions, not more. At the moment presumptions are largely applied in peace officer and firefighter cases.

This bill would extend a presumption into private employers.

Proponents included the California Nurses Union, the California Applicants Attorneys Association, the California Labor Federation, the California Professional Firefighters, and a variety of other unions. Opponents include the University of California, various hospitals, retailers, manufacturers and other corporate interests.

Another political hot potato is AB 1897 (Hernandez), summarized in my August 27th post. The bill would make employers who use labor contractors liable for the sins of their labor contractors.

It’s been deemed a “job killer” and is opposed by a variety of Capitol business interests.

With a Governor known to prefer a “paddle to the left and paddle to the right” approach to governance, it remains to be seen how the Governor will deal with these bills.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young