Workers Comp Zone


Each January Workerscompzone begins the year with a quiz. The quiz gives soothsayers out there a chance to weigh in on likely events and trends we will see in California workers’ comp over the next year.

Without further ado, get out your crystal ball and have at it (note in some instances there may be more than one correct answer, or no correct answers):

1.The impact on workers’ comp of Biden taking over the presidency from Trump will be: a) Moderate, mainly due to increased attention to federal health and safety standards; b) Huge, as the Biden administration attempts to control the pandemic; c) Significant, as healthcare coverage reforms affect workers’ comp: d)All of the these; e) Negligible;

2. The effort to establish a new Medical-Legal Fee Schedule to set payments to QMEs will: a) Finally be achieved in early 2021, to widespread approval by the QME community; b) Be delayed again as recent forum comments by stakeholders convince the DWC to make further changes before a final version is adopted; c) Be adopted in early 2021, received well by some stakeholders but not by a significant number of QMEs and payors; d) Cause significant increase in overall QME costs

3. Prop 22 passed in 2020, establishing an alternative model for gig-platform workers. In 2021 we will see: a) Labor unions successfully challenging the constitutionality of Prop 22; b) Labor constitutional challenge to Prop 22 fails; c) Other companies and industries threaten to seek relief through the initiative process if they do not receive exemptions from AB5; d) Prop 22 will remain in effect but the legislature will grant additional exemptions from AB5; e) Judges at the WCAB will be trying cases where the issue is whether there is employment for workers’ comp purposes under the “ABC test”;

4. In the California 2021 legislative session, workers’ comp bills will be passed that : a) Limit cumulative trauma claims; b) Place additional limitations on SIBTF claims (i.e. “Subsequent Injuries”); c) Expand COVID presumptions and require employer funded PPE gear; d) Deal with worker wildfire smoke exposure; d) Regulate copy services and discovery of records; e) Address genetic discrimination and bias due to race-based factors; f) No significant non-COVID bills will be passed

5. By the end of 2021, the pandemic effect on the workers’ comp community will be: a) Pandemic will be largely over, with in person conferences and trials resuming, in-person medical treatment and evals resuming and workers substantially returning to their offices; b) The pandemic will not be under control, as vaccines fail to provide hoped-for immunity from mutations of the virus; c) Pandemic will be largely controlled, but many conferences, trials and depositions continue to be held remotely, and many stakeholders continue to work from home; d) Widespread economic distress leads to large further drop in comp claims; e) Stakeholder layoffs as the pandemic causes some comp stakeholders to shed overhead due to drop in business

6.Big issues for the California Division of Workers’ Compensation in 2021 will be: a) Continuing exodus of QMEs from the system; b) Establishing revised copy service fee schedule regulations; c) Whether to allow optional video trials, conferences and QME evals even after the pandemic begins to abate; d) Amending the rating schedule; e) Updating or replacing the EAMS system

7. Workers’ comp costs in California will: a) Continue to decline, as injury claims continue pandemic-related decline; b) Begin to rise, as pandemic related claims prove costly; c) Comp costs paid by employers begin to rise after years of decline due to increased injuries as the economy recovers; d) Not be affected by cumulative trauma claims as the expected number of such claims due to pandemic layoffs does not materialize

8. Use of telehealth in California workers’ comp will: a) Start to decline as the need lessens due to pandemic starting to fade; b) Remain at current levels as pandemic continues to be a concern throughout 2021; c) Transition to telehealth will remain strong as convenience and increasing technological sophistication make it a favored option in many instances; d) Be subject to increased regulation; f) Be integrated into MPN network offerings for rural areas to allow larger pools of available treaters

9.A savvy betting person might say: a) Governor Newson will survive a recall attempt; b) Workers comp is in the news as employers leave California, complaining about regulations and workers’ comp; c) 2021 is one of the quietest years ever for workers’ comp, as preoccupation with COVID precludes major developments in California workers’ comp; d) Dire economic. and medical pandemic effects on the state and Newsom fatigue fuel a successful recall; e) Concerns grow that the ratio of system operating costs to the cost of indemnity and medical provided is unsustainable

10. By the end of 2021, it will be apparent that: a) Temporary disability and permanent disability costs are rising due to workers having to delay treatments as a result of COVID; b) COVID costs to the comp system were significantly lower than early projections; c) The comp community has distinguished itself by working through and around the difficulties caused by COVID; d) AB5 has brought claims into the comp system that were formerly not in the system; e) COVID costs climb and rock the system

Bonus: Do you foresee any “black swan” events/trends on the rise, and if so, what?

Send your answers to [email protected]

And stay tuned.

Julius Young