GB's Weekly Governmental Briefing
Through our Governmental Affairs practice, GB is helping to shape the laws and regulations that will define the times ahead. Acting on behalf of the best interests of our clients and our industry.
Each week, we bring it all into focus.
Getting Down to BusinessJul. 12, 2017
The California Senate and Assembly each passed bills that would impact the state's workers' compensation system. The Senate Labor & Industrial Committee and the Assembly Insurance Committee will both hold hearings today on the 11 bills.
The Assembly committee will look at the six workers' compensation bills that have passed the Senate. The bills range from changing the length of time an emergency physician will be allowed to submit a claims of services (going from 30 days to 180 days) allowing corporate officers who own at least 10% of the business to elect to exempt themselves from workers' compensation coverage (down from 15%). Some of the other bills would authorize the State Compensation Insurance Fund's (SCIF) board of directors to add additional executive and management positions; allow the California Insurance Guarantee Association (CIGA) to purchase reinsurance for its workers' compensation fund; and require insurers to report additional diversity factors in their Insurer Supplier Diversity Survey. The last bill would allow the Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) to reach out to medical providers to understand the percentage workers' compensation cases and the disputes among those providers and employers and insurers. Whew.
The Senate committee will look at the five workers' compensation bills that have passed the Assembly. The bills on this side range from prohibiting apportionment of permanent disability based on pregnancy (or conditions related to pregnancy or childbirth) to expanding presumption to school district police officers to providing employees advocacy services after a domestic terrorist act. There's been a lot of lien discussion in California and the committee will look at a bill to continue a stay on any liens filed by medical providers who have criminal charges against them (closing a loophole). The final bill would require the DWC to distribute all the return-to-work program's supplemental funds ($120 million) to eligible injured workers. Breathe.
THAT'S A LOT
We'll keep an eye on all of these bills to see if they make it out of their respective committees.
On the Other Coast
The New York legislature passed a bill (A.B. 711) that extends cancer presumptions for volunteer firefighters. The New York State Volunteer Firefighter Enhanced Cancer Disability Benefits Act would require all fire districts, departments, and companies to provide and maintain an enhanced cancer disability benefit insurance program for each eligible volunteer firefighter. Volunteer firefighters would be eligible for a lump sum payment of $6,250 or $25,000 depending on the diagnosis, or monthly benefits of $1,500 for up to 36 months if totally disabled. The legislature still needs to send this to Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who has 30 days from last June 21 to sign it into law.
The New York Workers' Compensation Board (WCB) announced updated reimbursement rates for acute per-case inpatient hospital rates, exempt hospitals, exempt units, and detoxification inpatient rates. The New York State Department of Health is required to promulgate the workers' compensation inpatient rates, which they recently proved for 2015 and 2016.
Making Our Way Through the Country
Governor Eric Greitens signed a series of bills into law effecting workers' compensation and tort reform. Senate Bill 66 makes changes to its workers' compensation system by defining maximum medical improvement, limiting temporary total and temporary partial disability benefits, and changes to compromise settlements. The bill also creates a rebuttable presumption for any positive drug test for non-prescribed controlled drugs, which would reduce any workers' compensation benefit or death benefit. House Bills 339 and 714 will provide insurers with some procedural relief for bad faith claims.
The National Safety Council (NSC) released a state-by-state report providing insights into promising practices and shows where states are on track or falling short on workplace safety, road safety, and home and community safety. The NSC graded states on actions and policies they have taken (or not taken) to reduce risk for all residents. States were graded from A-F and no state earned an "A". Check it out to see your state's grade.
Last night's All-Star Game marked baseball's preverbal halfway point for the boys of summer. Congrats to the American League for five straight wins. We'll overlook that my lone Chicago Cubs All-Star gave up the game-winning home run. Hopefully, the Cubs can turn their season around. Go, Cubs, Go!