California: Chamber says recently approved bill will increase costs
The Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee unanimously approved A.B. 933, sponsored by Rep. Paul Fong, D-Cupertino. The legislation would require physicians who perform workers' comp services, particularly utilization reviews, to have a valid California license. Fong said the bill is aimed at increasing transparency and boosting protections for workers by ensuring that all utilization review decisions are made by physicians who live, work, spend money and pay taxes in California.
"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," Fong said. "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."
The California Chamber of Commerce has come out against the bill, arguing that there is no evidence that care to injured workers would be improved by mandating that any physician who modifies, delays or denies a request for treatment in a workers' comp claim be licensed in California.
"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," the group stated. "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."
In addition, the group said the legislation will add further costs and delays for the state Division of Workers' Compensation by requiring the term for approval of the medical provider network to be submitted every three years.
"AB 933 jeopardizes the process that enables employers to ensure employees are receiving the best medical treatment possible while keeping costs under control," the group said.
The bill was referred to the Senate Committee on Appropriations, which held a hearing on the measure in August.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
September 13, 2010
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