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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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VIAW SPECIAL EDITION – Port of Oakland closed

Posted on 05 September 2013 by admin

OAKLAND, Calif. — The Port of Oakland will remain closed until tonight following the death of a 45-year-old Suisun City woman who worked there, a spokesman said.

The fatality was reported Tuesday in the late afternoon at the TTI Terminal, Port of Oakland spokesman Robert Bernardo said.

“Everyone is just very saddened by this tragic news. Our thoughts are with the family during this difficult time,” he said. “It is definitely a somber mood right now because of this.”

http://abclocal.go.com

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OPEN LETTER FROM VIAW PRESIDENT

Posted on 05 September 2013 by admin

Dear Steward of California’s Workers Compensation System:
We write to express our profound concern with draft language to implement SB 863 that would impose a requirement regarding immigration status on eligibility for workers compensation benefits.
The Supplemental Job Displacement Benefit (SJDB) voucher is a crucial benefit for thousands of California injured workers each month. It is such a valuable lifeline in part because it provides relatively swift access to key support services that facilitate injured workers’ resilience, wellbeing, and workforce reentry, at their own initiative.
Any effort to infringe on California workers’ rights under our state constitution to cure and relief of the effects of their work-related injury—or to exclude them altogether from the scope of this guarantee—harms injured workers and undermines our state’s hard-won standard of rewarding work and equal protection under law.
The proposed regulation is a needless erosion of this standard, in that no binding legal precedent or prevailing evidence dictates or disposes any such policy. To the contrary, the proposed regulation creates a loophole in workers compensation enforcement and California law and an incentive for unscrupulous behavior by employers in the state that would have the effect of rewarding exploitative behavior in our workforce and punishing injured workers at precisely the most vulnerable moment of their lives. Such a regulation would create a malignant precedent of its own, with far-reaching negative implications in state law and society.
Indeed, the proposal would invite employers to adopt a posture of willful ignorance regarding the documentation status of workers and to invoke affirmative knowledge of a potentially disqualifying status by an injured worker at the point of eligibility for relief.
California is one of several states whose workers compensation system includes no conditions regarding immigration status. We call upon you to maintain this distinction. It is worth noting that the supreme court of even such states as Nebraska held recently that undocumented workers are entitled to full workers compensation coverage. It would indeed be a sad irony for California to initiate an historic retreat from the non-conditionality of its workers compensation system at precisely the moment when its progress has provided an example of logic and lawful inclusivity for others.
In conclusion, we call upon you to step up incentives for employers’ compliance with workers compensation coverage and documentation requirements in hiring. And on behalf of our members and the nearly half a million Californians injured on the job each year, we call upon you to abandon any language that would have the effect of imposing any requirement related to immigration status on eligibility for benefits under our state’s workers compensation policies.

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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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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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