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9/15 - A Brief Summary of California Workers' Compensation News

Today's post will briefly examine workers' compensation defense news from around the state.

A.B. 933, a proposed bill that would require all physicians who provide services related to work comp/ utilization reviews to be licensed in the state of California, was recently approved by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee.

(The following definition is provided for the uninitiated:

"A utilization review (UR) is the process used by employers or claims administrators to review treatment to determine if it is medically necessary. All employers or their workers' compensation claims administrators are required by law to have a UR program. This program is used to decide whether or not to approve medical treatment recommended by a physician which must be based on the medical treatment guidelines."- California Department of Industrial Relations)

The bill's sponsor, Rep. Paul Fong, D-Cupertino, believes that the physician-licensing requirement will both increase worker protections and generate the necessary transparency in all utilization review decisions.

 "California is the only state that requires doctors to obtain 12 hours of special education on pain management, which is the leading cause of disability. During these tough times, it's critical that safe and equitable laws are in place to protect Californians when they are hurt on the job," said Fong.

A.B. 933's main adversary is the California Chamber of Commerce. The institute believes that the bill would 1) create unnecessary delays for the state Division of Workers' Compensation by requiring that the term of approval for the medical provider network to be submitted every three years and 2) increase costs significantly.

The Chamber of Commerce also believes that there is relatively little evidence to support the notion that the care of injured workers would be greatly improved by a mandatory physician-licensing requirement.

"California's workers' compensation law already contains strict requirements to assure that physicians who make utilization review decisions use evidence-based standards and are competent to evaluate the specific medical issues in the workers' compensation claim. Limiting the ability to make utilization review recommendations to physicians licensed in California would only limit the number of doctors available to provide the service, thereby creating a logjam of cases to be reviewed and driving up the cost of the review and overall costs for employers," the organization stated.

Following its unanimous approval by the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee, A.B. 933 is now referred back to the Senate Committee on Appropriations.

Stay tuned for further news on A.B. 933 and other developments in the area of California workers' compensation defense ...

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Related Resources:
• California: Chamber Says Recently Approved Bill Will Increase WC Costs (Risk & Insurance)
• Division of Workers' Compensation - Utilization Review (California Department of Industrial Relations)

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