California. Some employers would get a break on their workers' comp insurance premiums under A.B. 11. It provides small businesses with 20 or fewer employers and receipts of not more than $1 million a 20 percent credit toward their workers' comp premiums.
The measure, proposed by Democratic Assemblyman Anthony Portantino, has been referred to a legislative committee.
Kansas. The House has passed and sent to the Senate an amended proposal to reform the workers' comp system. The original language represented a compromise between business and labor.
Critics say the changes could derail the agreement. Among them are ones that would deny benefits to illegal aliens and require employees to pay fees for technical assistance or translators necessary to discuss workers' comp cases. Another would drop coverage for workers injured during company-sponsored events unless the employees were forced to participate.
In addition to a separate proposal to allow employers to opt out of the workers' comp system, legislation developed by a gubernatorial study group has been passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee. Gov. Mary Fallin's office called it a comprehensive overhaul of the workers' comp system that would reduce costs to businesses while maintaining a fair playing field for workers and employers.
Among its provisions are:
- Controls medical treatment by the Official Disability Guidelines.
- Ties the fee schedule for hospitals, doctors, and other medical service providers and for prosthetics and supplies to the Medicare fee schedule.
- Cuts the maximum time to receive temporary total disability benefits to 156 weeks from 300 weeks.
- Expands counselor or ombudsman program and mediation, and specifies that mediators need not be lawyers.
- Puts more decision-making in the hands of independent medical examiners which can be appointed on any issue at any time.
- Changes the definition of permanent total disability to stipulate that benefits are awarded only if permanent physical or mental restrictions prevent the worker from gainful employment.
- Provides that employers are not liable for pain management unless recommended by a treating physician or an independent medical exam or preapproved by the insurer.
- Provides that an employer's provision of prompt medical treatment will not be construed as an admission of compensability of the injury.
- Gives more weight to the treating physician's opinion on TTD and need for medical treatment.
Read more at the WorkersComp Forum homepage.
March 14, 2011
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