Workers Comp Zone


Marty Morgenstern is leaving.

Since 2011 Morgenstern served as Governor Brown’s Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency. Morgenstern had deep ties to many figures in California’s labor movement and to some in the labor think tanks at UC.

Though he was essentially a figurehead and for the most part not deeply involved in the details of California workers’ comp issues, Morgenstern was a source of advice to Brown on worker issues.

Stepping into Morganstern’s position will be David Lanier, who has been serving as Brown’s deputy legislative affairs agency.

Most comp observers will not be familiar with Lanier, as he has largely been under the radar in workers’ comp circles. Yet, a quick stroll through the internet reveals that Lanier has been a point of contact within the Governor’s office on many comp issues, including various comp regulatory issues.

So it’s not surprising that he has been awarded the post.

Lanier comes to the forefront at an interesting time.

California workers’ comp rates are likely to be jumping upwards.

Uncertainty abounds regarding the wisdom and effect of the 2012 reforms.

Many legislators, union folks and perhaps Brown himself may have been told that in 2012 “we fixed workers’ comp”.

But that’s now in doubt.

Consider these issues:
– How will changing doctor compensation to RBRVS based pay affect doctor availability and overall medical costs?
-With requests for Independent Medical Review now topping 20,000 requests per month (in October 2013) and the time for Maximus to process IMR requests growing, is the IMR system already in trouble?
-Can the Division of Workers’ Compensation really manage the troubled QME request process?
-What happens if the constitutional challenge to lien fees succeeds? Will the Federal court enjoying enforcement of the lien activation fee requirement? If so, what result might ensue?
-What will happens with the slew of remaining regulatory rules that must be issued by the DWC?
-At the end of the day, will we see that SB 863 was poorly conceived and resulted in unintended consequences? Or will SB 863 bend the cost curve and mitigate what would otherwise be a new workers’ comp crisis?
-How will Governor Brown deal with the vacancies at the WCAB?
-What will the Brown Administration do with the $120 million fund it is supposed to administer for those with high earnings losses?

These are but a few of the issues that are in play as 2013 winds to a close.

Lanier may or may not be involved in the details.

What is sure is that he will be presiding for the Brown administration over these issues at an interesting time for workers’ comp.

Stay tuned.

Julius Young

Category: Political developments