What does 2020 hold for California workers’ comp?
You can self-test your visionary skills by taking the quiz below, the current version of the blog’s yearly call for soothsayers to test their chops.
Time to get started.
1. Regarding cumulative trauma claims, in 2020: a) C/T claims will fade as an issue as the number of C/T claims drops even in Southern California; b) Be the subject of an unsuccessful legislative effort by employers to limit C/T claims; c) C/T claims in Southern California continue to be cited as a problem, but no legislation surfaces; d) C/T claims are addressed in legislation signed by the Governor; e) None of the above
2. Regarding a new QME payment schedule, in 2020: a) Stakeholder meetings result in an agreed revision of QME payments system; b) The DWC struggles to devise a new payment schedule, but promulgates one that pleases nobody; c) Significant numbers of QMEs resign or reduce their availability after a new schedule is promulgated; d) A legislative fix is passed but vetoed by the Governor; e) None of the above
3.In 2020, regarding AB5, the 2019 legislation that adopts the Dynamex employment test: a) Bowing to pressure from many different groups, the legislature amends AB5, creating significant new exemptions; b) Talks to amend AB5 collapse and it is repealed after a bitter and expensive initiative passes in November; c) The Uber/Lyft/DoorDash initiative fails, but gig-platform companies continue to litigate whether their models are within the AB5 employment definition; d) The application of AB5 becomes an issue in many workers’ comp cases; e) The application of AB5 for workers’ comp is hardly litigated at the WCAB;
4. 2020 press reports will bring stories about: a) Injured workers who are living in homeless camps; b) Clashes over courthouse immigration enforcement under Trump’s second term; c) How workers’ comp will be integrated into a Medicare for All proposal advanced as Democrats sweep in the 2020 elections; d) Increasing delays caused by further shrinking of the available pool of QMEs; e) None of these
5. As concern about the QME system continues to build, there are bills to: a) Increase the QME pools to 5 names; b) Abandon the QME strike process and create a “doc-in the-box’ QME system with one QME assigned by the DWC; c) Allow each side to choose their own QME; d) Leave the system as it is but pay QMEs more; e) None of these
6. In 2020, re California workers’ compensation insurance rates: a) Advisory rates approved by the California Insurance Commissioner will continue to decline; b) The multi-year decline in California workers’ comp rates will end and rates for most employers rise by a small percentage; c) Significant spike in workers’ comp costs; d) Rates remain flat
7. Regarding the influence of technology on workers’ comp, in 2020: a) AI will be more hype than reality; b) advances in exoskeletons will be heralded for workers; c) the admissibility of drone surveillance will be an increasing issue; d) wi-fi will be installed at all WCAB district offices; e) The growth of telemedicine; f) None of the above
8. California workers’ comp will be in the press spotlight: a) Hardly at all; b) Increasingly as the decline of workers’ comp insurance rates ends and costs begin to tick up; c) Increasingly, as there is focus on homeless injured workers; d) Increasingly, as the QME shortage becomes more acute and causes delays; e) Increasingly as employers complain of increased assessments
9. Quiet issues that begin to get more attention in 2020: a) The high cost of delivering comp benefits to workers in relation to the benefits delivered; b) The growth of the Subsequent Injuries Benefits Trust Fund; c) The lack of leadership at the Department of Industrial Relations; d) Public entity workers’ comp costs; e) None of the above
10. In 2020, from a legislative perspective we will see the following: a) Passage of a bill addressing apportionment to genetics; b) Attempts to change the standards for the SIBTF; c) Bill to require a certain percentage of workers’ comp premium be spent on worker benefits; d) Signing of additional worker presumptions; e) Veto of bill that would add injury presumptions; f) None of the above
Bonus: What is an under-the-radar issue that will surface in 2020?
Want to see how you fared in 2019? Here is last year’s quiz:
Stay tuned. I’m speaking at the CAAA Winter Convention in Rancho Mirage and will be blogging afterwards on some of the highlights.