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Victory! Governor signs interpreter bill

Posted on 16 October 2013 by admin

Today Governor Jerry Brown signed AB 1376. The emergency legislation sponsored by VIAW will allow thousands of Californians hurt on the job to have access to certified interpreters during medical visits. Continue Reading

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Ask Gov. Brown to sign AB 1376 & SB 36

Posted on 01 October 2013 by admin

SB 1376 SB 36

Injured workers, interpreters, and supporters of healthcare access throughout the state continue to urge Gov. Jerry Brown to sign AB 1376 and SB 36. The bills won overwhelming approval by state lawmakers last month. Continue Reading

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We have emergency legislation

Posted on 09 September 2013 by admin

AB 1376 Emergency

On September 6, Voters Injured At Work succeeded in an effort to secure emergency legislation for interpreters and injured workers in the state. The bill, AB 1376, responds to a state rule put in place in August. Continue Reading

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Don’t Let A Constitutional Right for All California Workers Get Lost in Translation

Posted on 27 August 2013 by admin

Sally Herrera
The right of “all workers” in California to access a system “to cure and relieve” us of injuries sustained on the job is spelled out in our state constitution.

This guarantee is good for employers and for workers. There is no loophole based on the language we speak. We Californians speak more than 100 languages.

Yet a new rule imposed by the state Department of Industrial Relations (DIR) this month puts our constitutional right at risk.

Interpreter and VIAW Supporter
Sally Herrera, Fresno, California

The timing of the rule and the question it raises about whose interest the state is acting on could hardly be worse.
Please join me in working to defend our right and to delay enforcement of this dangerous new rule.

The new regulation imposes a requirement that only certified interpreters can take part in medical appointments for injured workers in the workers compensation system. As many as half of the estimated 9,000 to 10,000 daily medical appointments of injured workers in California require interpreters’ involvement. Yet only about 900 professionals in California currently meet the state’s certification mandate. Without interpreters, injured workers will miss or forgo life-sustaining treatment. Many could face potentially life-threatening miscommunication in trying to obtain care.

News of the new regulation emerged on August 15. While originally slated to take effect Oct. 1, the rule instead took effect on August 13 because of how officials in the DIR filed it. This gave the regulation sudden and very sharp teeth. Facing significant revenue losses, translation and interpreter agencies began laying off staff immediately.

In an August 20 meeting they sought with the director of the DIR, several interpreters outlined their concerns about the rule. These include an option for provisional allowance of interpreters that has proved impractical and leaves discretion with insurance carriers. Many carriers do not respond to even repeated inquiries and enforce a restriction on service only by their network of interpreters. In addition, medical translation forms used by some carriers are raising ethical concerns, since they request summaries of medical visits from interpreters that, in order to comply, could violate state and federal laws protecting patient privacy.

The compromising of interpreters’ and translators’ ethics is part of the effort to wedge them into a medical provider network (MPN). The role the state is playing to institute an MPN model on “language service providers” and the undue authority some insurance carriers exercise under this scheme has led some of us to ask whether the state and insurers may be colluding in ways that go outside the law.

At the DIR meeting, the director expressed understanding of interpreters’ concerns and said they had made the case for “a grace period” for the new rules’ taking effect.

But the agency has rejected any delay in the rule. Now we need action by the legislature that will have the force of law. That is why I urge you to join me and dozens of translators and interpreters statewide in raising the funds needed to support emergency legislation to delay this rule.

Please contribute to the legislative push for translators and interpreters and injured workers.

Make a donation online at: https://viaw.org/advertise/

Or send a contribution to:

Voters Injured At Work, 714 W. Olympic Blvd., 4th Floor, Los Angeles, CA 90015.

 

The huge expansion of healthcare coverage now under way in California depends on fluent communication between healthcare providers and residents in the languages we understand. To drive language professionals out of business or out of state at the very time when Californians rely on us as a bridge to better healthcare outcomes, cost savings, and a more efficient system is just plain wrong.

Please stand with me and Voters Injured At Work and support our fight to defend translators and all Californians’ constitutional right.

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Out of the Park or Out of Business?

Posted on 12 July 2013 by admin

Surviving the New Medical & Legal Landscape of Workers Comp After SB-863

This seminar will help you and your clients win on the new medical, legal & payment-systems landscape created by last year’s sweeping reform law in California.

Featuring

Dr. Sana Khan, M.D. & Charles Rondeau, Esq.

YOU CAN ATTEND ANY OF 4 NEW LOCATIONS

San Diego Riverside Sacramento Oakland

Weds., August 14 Thurs., August 15 Tues., August 20 Thurs., August 22

All seminars run 6 to 9 p.m. Refreshments provided.

Space is limited. Sign up today. Specify your preferred location. Venue address provided upon RSVP.

These are the following locations:

San Diego
Weds., Aug.14
Law Offices of Felipe Hueso
2496 E Street
San Diego, CA 92102

Riverside
Thurs., Aug. 15
Ryon College
7028 Indiana Ave.
Riverside, CA 92506

Sacramento
Tues., Aug. 20
Retirement Security Center
8880 Cal Center Dr., Ste. 220
Sacramento, CA 95826

Oakland
Thurs., Aug. 22
John E. Hill Law Firm
333 Hegenberger Rd., Ste. 500
Oakland, CA 94621

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Celebrating 10 Years

Posted on 07 June 2013 by admin

To View Full Flyer Click This Link

YOU ARE INVITED

to join

Voters Injured at Work.org

celebrating 10 years of

leadership in the fight

for justice in California

HONORING

Assemblymember Rich Gordon

Artist Bonnie Smith

Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

6:00 to 8:30 PM

at

Mezcal Restaurant

25 W. San Fernando St.

San Jose, CA 95113

 

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Opinion: Ruling in death shows workers’ comp system needs fixing

Posted on 24 May 2013 by admin

By John Longville and Jesse Ceniceros

Posted: 05/22/2013 06:04:45 PM PDT
Updated: 05/22/2013 06:04:56 PM PDT

 

Every now and then the facts of someone’s life or death resonate up and down California and penetrate our boardrooms, newsrooms, classrooms and the Capitol.

Whether that happens in the case of Charles Romano, a worker in his 40s who died five years ago this month after a cruel five-year ordeal in the workers’ compensation system, will reveal the meaning of accountability in our state. It also will show officials’ willingness to exert lapsed oversight, ensure fair play and extend basic humanity in a system most simply want to ignore.

The ruling in Romano’s case this month by the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) showed that neither decency nor the demands of law, in procedure or in penalties, is protecting injured workers or the public interest in a functional system. The appeals board found Romano’s employer, Kroger, under its California imprint Ralph’s, and insurance carrier Sedgwick culpable for “a callous indifference to the catastrophic consequences of its delays, inaction, and outright neglect.” Despite 11 separate violations of law for denying or delaying care to Romano – even refusing to provide him use of a wheelchair – and despite their months of delay in paying the hundreds of thousands of dollars in hospitalization costs surrounding his death, Ralph’s and Sedgwick face fines of just $110,000.

Such lethal irresponsibility toward a Californian trying to overcome a work-related injury is unconscionable but far from unusual. The meager maximum penalty of $10,000 for each violation, no matter how blatant and severe, clearly didn’t provide a disincentive for the delays and denials of care that proved fatal for Romano. Indeed, the ongoing practice of such illegal delays and denials in case after case reveals that “profit at any human cost” has become an unofficial motto for too many companies and their insurers.

In the Inland Empire alone, hundreds of men and women incur unforeseen bodily harm on the job each month. Stockers, like Romano, and warehouse workers, who are literally a backbone of our local economy, suffer scores of debilitating injuries. We cannot afford to turn our backs on them, their care or their future productivity.

If more lawmakers knew that changes in the 2004 bill pushed by Gov. Schwarzenegger, reducing penalties for delay and denial of care, could in any way enable such mistreatment, it would have met stiffer resistance, and amendments to stiffen penalties under law. Current lawmakers should waste no time in taking up that priority.

The Romano case highlights how denials and delays of treatment worsen injuries, wrongly shift cost burdens onto caregivers and inhibit rehabilitation and return to work. The ruling creates a teachable moment for all Californians – corporate executives and shareholders, reporters and editors, educators in health and government and law, as well as state officials – about the ethical obligations of employers and insurers, the need for effective regulation and the value of workers’ lives.

From orchards to railroads to renewable energy, our regional economy has grown from the ingenuity and sacrifice of workers. We all share an interest in protecting the health of the labor force.

John Longville, vice president of the San Bernardino Community College District Board of Trustees, represented county residents in the state Assembly from 1998 to 2004. Jesse Ceniceros, a former aerospace mechanic in Bloomington, is board chair of Voters Injured At Work, a statewide advocacy group for Californians hurt on the job.

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Workers’ comp legislation introduced in House

Posted on 17 May 2013 by admin

Workers’ comp legislation introduced in House to benefit injured workers, help employers

 

Representatives Dave Reichert (R-Washington) and Mike Thompson (D-California) introduced the Medicare Secondary Payer and Workers’ Compensation Settlement Agreement Act (H.R. 1982) into the U.S. House of Representatives on May 15.

According to a press release, the Act establishes clear and consistent standards for an administrative process that provides reasonable protections for injured workers and Medicare. It would benefit injured workers, employers and insurers by creating a system of certainty and allows the settlement process to move forward while eliminating millions of dollars in administrative costs that harm workers, employers, and insurers.

The legislation aims to protect injured workers whose workers’ compensation claims overlap with Medicare coverage. Often, these claims are subjected to lengthy and cumbersome reviews by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to determine appropriate set-aside amounts to pay for future medical costs in which Medicare may have an interest. The delays associated with this review place unfair burdens upon the injured party.

“This is a common-sense measure to ensure that hard-working Americans are not left in limbo because of inefficient bureaucratic procedures,” said Rep. Reichert. “Injured workers must have the confidence that their heathcare claims will be processed in a fair and timely manner. By introducing this bill, Rep. Thompson and I aim to do just that: protect our hard-working citizens by making sure our systems serve them and their families.”

“The last thing injured workers should have to worry about is if needless bureaucracy is going to prevent their medical bills from being paid,” said Thompson. “This bill will make sure hard working families’ medical claims are processed efficiently and quickly, it will reduce bureaucratic headaches for businesses, and it will save taxpayers money. I will continue working with Congressman Reichert to get this bipartisan bill signed into law.”

The legislation has widespread support from groups such as the American Insurance Association, the American Bar Association, the National Council of Self-Insurers, Property Casualty, Insurers Association of America, UWC-Strategic Services and the Workers Injury Law and Advocacy Group (WILG).

Follow this link for the original posting.

 

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How to Succeed After SB 863

Posted on 17 May 2013 by admin

The
 seminar 
that 
will 
help 
you 
and
 your 
clients 
win 
on
 the 
new 
medical,

legal,
 and 
payment‐systems 
landscape 
created
 by 
last
year’s

sweeping 
workers’ comp reform 
law 
in 
California.

Featuring

Sana Khan M.D., Ph.D

&

Charles Rondeau, Esq.

Tuesday, May 28

6 
to 
9
p.m.

at

VITAL
IMAGING

2198 
S. 
DuPont 
Dr.
Anaheim
, CA 

92806

For More Details Click on the Link: Seminar SB863

Comments (0)

Case involving worker’s death sparks grief, outrage throughout California

Posted on 09 May 2013 by admin

A ruling by the state Workers Compensation Appeals Board has ignited both sorrow and anger over the death of an injured worker five years ago this week.

 

Compounding the indignation over the details of how Charles Romano died is outrage at the meager fines—still to be issued in the case—that advocates say highlight the weakness of state oversight and the failure of state lawmakers to hold insurers accountable.

“I mourn the loss of Charles Romano and the suffering that preceded it,” says Jesse Ceniceros, board president of Voters Injured At Work.

 

“The facts of his case–how the rule of law in this great and wealthy state turned its back on this hardworking man–cast shame upon his employer and its insurer. His case also shows once more how powerful interests have rigged the workers compensation system against ordinary Californians. If it can happen to him, cut down in the prime of his life, it can happen to anyone.”

 

Charles Romano, a grocery worker at Ralph’s in Camarillo, died at the age of 47 in early May 2008, ending a five-year effort to recover from a shoulder and neck injury he suffered on the job in 2003. Frustrating that effort, as the appeals board found, were repeated delays and denials of care by Romano’s employer, part of the Kroger foods chain, and its claims administrator, Sedgwick CMS.

 

The ruling denied an appeal by Ralph’s and Sedgwick of their liability in the case (Romano v. Kroger, or ADJ1372133). It revealed that Sedgwick “continued to deny or delay care through the end of applicant’s life,” failing to pay even for Romano’s final hospitalization for more than 4 months after his death.

 

Facts of the case elicited unusually blunt and evocative language from the appeal board. The “horrifically ill” Romano repeatedly sought authorization and attention to his claims from Sedgwick, which showed only “blithe disregard for its legal and ethical obligation to provide medical care to a critically injured worker.”

 

Despite its determination that Sedgwick “unreasonably delayed medical care in 11 separate instances,” the board cited the limitations of state law in setting the maximum penalty of “25 percent of the delayed medical benefit, not to exceed $10,000.” The maximum fine Sedgwick faces stemming from the death is thus only $110,000.

 

“Adding insult to injury in the case is the trifling amount of state penalties,” adds Ceniceros. “Such fines are an affront to working people. They mock the notion of fair play and the American way. They fail to provide a deterrent to unconscionable abuses and invite multi-billion-dollar companies to treat the lives of workers as a cost of doing business. Unless state lawmakers act to fix the systemic problems exposed once again by this case, they risk being complicit in shame. The death of Charles Romano must not be in vain.”

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