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Archive | February, 2011

Opinion: Applicants attorneys, Teamsters join forces in workers’ comp

Posted on 28 February 2011 by admin

By Barry Hinden, Barry Broad | 02/24/11

Some were surprised by the recent announcement that our two organizations are joining forces to provide better advocacy on California workers’ compensation policy and politics. While some may wonder what workers’ compensation attorneys have in common with truck drivers and other Teamsters, we both represent tens of thousands of working Californians who have been disabled by a work injury. CAAA’s workers’ compensation attorneys know better than anyone how the policies, politics and operations of the workers’ compensation insurance system impact those hurt at work.
CAAA members see every day how the cost of medical care and disability compensation is being shifted from insurance companies to group health plans, and taxpayer-funded social security or disability insurance programs.

Capitol Weekly Original Source

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Assembly Bill Enables Doctor ‘Kickbacks’ at the Expense of Patients

Posted on 28 February 2011 by admin

Physical therapists say patients will suffer if MDs are allowed to refer patients for profit

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Feb. 23, 2011 /PRNewswire/ — Hundreds of physical therapists in California vowed today to aggressively fight a bill recently introduced that allows physicians t o profit from referring patients to physical therapy services owned by the doctors.

AB 783, authored by Assemblymember Mary Hayashi (D-Hayward), slipped by public notice over the holiday weekend as news broke about a massive federal bust involving nine states and the arrests of more than a hundred physicians, physical therapists and other health care practitioners alleged to have engaged in the largest Medicare scam in history.

Original Source

 

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Demonstrators rally in support of Wisconsin workers

Posted on 28 February 2011 by admin

Dozens gathered in Oakland on Tuesday to show solidarity with protesters in Wisconsin who are protesting plans to limit public unions’ ability to bargain for health and pension benefits for their members. Their signs bore messages challenging Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker to respect workers rights and calling for California Governor Jerry Brown not to cut public workers’ benefits.

San Francisco Gate Source

My Desert Video News

Local News San Marcos

 

 

 

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Assembly Bill 335

Posted on 28 February 2011 by admin

Bill Would Allow Shorter, More Concise Benefit Notices

By Greg Jones, reporter

A bill introduced this month in the California Assembly would create shorter benefit notices written in “plain language” and an online booklet explaining rights and obligations, improving the quality of information delivered to injured workers while reducing costs by a projected $42 million annually, according to supporters.

Assembly Bill 335 by Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana, would overhaul how information is disseminated to injured workers. It requires the administrative director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) to work with the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) to create a book detailing the claims process that will be available online. The book will also be available for pick up at district offices or can be mailed at the request of an injured worker who doesn’t have access to the Internet.

The legislation also requires DWC notices be written in “plain language” and reference the booklet so injured workers can understand the context of any notice they receive. Solorio’s bill would also delete the current requirement that notices be delivered by certified mail.

Jason Schmelzer, a legislative advocate with the California Coalition on Workers’ Compensation, said the legislation is common sense and benefits employees and employers. The coalition asked Solorio to introduce the legislation.

“It allows the commission to work together with the administrative director for the Division of Workers’ Compensation to revise the notices and to make them more beneficial and more useful to the injured worker and less onerous for employers,” Schmelzer said. “It’s a benefit-notice streamlining bill.”

The bill proposes changes to California Labor Code Sections 138.4, 3550, 4060, 4061, 4658.5 and 5401.

The language in AB 335 is taken verbatim from a July 2010 CHSWC study that found benefit notices were overly wordy, redundant and contained information not needed by all workers. The study also found that the notices were complex, vague and confusing to workers, and that it was difficult for employers to keep the different notices properly updated.

The commission concluded that some of the top priorities should be relaying necessary information to workers when it is needed, using plain language and providing background information and explanations about the claims process early and continually.

Making information and forms available online, including the DWC form to request a qualified medical examiner panel and fact sheets about temporary and permanent disability benefits would result in shorter notices, allow claims administrators to better communicate and help workers understand their rights and obligations, supporters say.

Christine Baker, executive o fficer with CHSWC, said there are a lot of notices and the commission would rather see a notice sent for the start and stop of benefits along with an explanation about how to find information from the more comprehensive booklet. California used Form DIA 500, a one-page status notice, in the 1980s.

The CHSWC study said its proposed changes would result in a net savings of about $42 million a year.

The program could cost between $300,000 and $650,000 based on the estimated $5 cost of printing and mailing the new booklet to the approximately 16% of injured workers who don’t have access to the Internet.

That cost would be offset by savings realized by employers, however. CHSWC estimates that employers could reduce legal defense expenses by $43 million a year. Insured employers pay legal defense expenses of about $607 million a year, representing 70% of all workers’ compensation claims. For all employers, the estimated cost is $867 million.

“We assume, conservatively, that providing comprehensive information early in the claims process and substantially clarifying the information in the benefit notices will reduce legal defense expenses by 5%, or $43 million per year,” the CHSWC study says.

Schmelzer said members of the California Coalition on Workers’ Compensation thought the study contained reasonable reform proposals.

“The commission has demonstrated the ability to do good work and convene multiple stakeholders on issues like benefit notices and come up with good ideas,” Schmelzer said. “What lacked in the past, I guess, is people grabbing onto those ideas and doing something with them.”

Schmelzer doesn’t expect any opposition to AB 335, which has not yet been assigned to committee. He said it looked like all stakeholders buy into the idea of making more information available online and putting it in plain language.

Baker with CHSWC said a working group is already developing recommendations so the process “can move forward quickly” if AB 335 is signed into law.

“Benefit notices are an important part of the system,” Schmelzer said. “The clearer they are and the better they do at communicating what they’re supposed to communicate, the better it is for everybody in the system.”

Jesse Ceniceros with Voters Injured at Work said he hasn’t fully reviewed AB 335 yet, but he would like to see some notification delivered to injured workers via certified mail so there is proof of delivery. He also expressed concern that in making notices shorter, important information could be omitted.

“As it is, the process is difficult enough to maneuver through,” he said. “Any necessary information that doesn’t get to injured workers is adding confusion to an already confusing system.”

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Supreme Court to hear case of worker killed offshore

Posted on 28 February 2011 by admin

Feb. 22, 2011

WASHINGTON—The U.S. Supreme Court agreed Tuesday to decide whether an employee must be injured on the outer continental shelf to be eligible for workers compensation benefits under the Outer Continental Shelf Lands Act.

The case, Pacific Operators Offshore L.L.P. vs. Luisa L. Valladolid et al., stems from a May 13, 2010, 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling involving the widow of worker Juan Valladolid.

Mr. Valladolid spent 98% of his work time as a roustabout on an offshore drilling platform about three miles off the coast of California. But he was crushed and killed by a forklift while working at a separate facility about 250 feet from shore.

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Breakaway union files lawsuit against SEIU

Posted on 28 February 2011 by admin

The National Union of Healthcare Workers alleges a pattern of violent threats and strong-arm tactics against dissident unionists. The SEIU dismisses the claims as a ‘publicity stunt.’

By Patrick J. McDonnell, Los Angeles Times

February 23, 2011

 

Leaders of a California labor group battling the giant S ervice Employees International Union alleged in a lawsuit Tuesday that the SEIU engaged in a pattern of violent threats and strong-arm tactics against dissident unionists.

Original Source

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CA DWC Announces 2011 Winners Of Community Service Awards

Posted on 28 February 2011 by admin

Oakland, CA (CompNewsNetwork) – The California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC), a division of the Department of Industrial Relations (DIR), is pleased to announce the winners of the 2011 Carrie Nevans Community Service Award. This year’s award in Southern California goes to Jesse Ceniceros of Voters Injured at Work (VIAW). The Northern California recipient is Dori Rose Inda of the Workers’ Compensation Enforcement Collaborative (WCEC). The awards will be given at the upcoming 18th annual DWC educational conference luncheons.

“This award is about commending those champions whose extra efforts support an effective workers’ compensation system for injured workers and employers,” said DIR Director John C. Duncan. “Nobody embodied that extra effort more than Carrie Nevans. It is fitting that we pay tribute to her memory by renaming this award in her honor.”

Jesse Ceniceros has worked tirelessly to help injured workers understand the workers’ compensation system, despite his own medical challenges. He has been the voice of injured workers on many advisory groups, working with the DWC in an attempt to gain consensus on issues related to return to work, supplemental job displacement benefits and more. He’s also worked directly with many injured workers, legislators and others, always going the extra mile, and often at his own expense, to help workers understand their rights and to advocate on their behalf.

As the chairperson and driving force of the WCEC, Dori Rose Inda has brought the medical, law enforcement and workers’ compensation communities together to find medical resources for injured workers whose employers are illegally uninsured. The WCEC is also actively involved in providing access to the workers’ compensation system and bringing uninsured employers to justice. Bringing these resources together resulted in a pilot project that helped shorten the time it takes an injured worker to access benefits from the Uninsured Employers Benefits Trust Fund (UEBTF) from years to months.

The DWC’s 18th annual educational conference is the largest workers’ compensation training in the state and allows claims administrators, attorneys, medical providers, return to work specialists, employers and others to learn firsthand about the most recent developments in the system, as well as ongoing DWC programs. The L.A. conference is sold out, so attendees who have not yet registered are encouraged to register for the Oakland sessions, which take place Feb. 28-Mar. 1, 2011 at the Oakland Marriott City Center Hotel.

http://www.workerscompensation.com/compnewsnetwork/news/ca-dwc-2011-community-service-winners.html

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