2011 California Workers' Compensation Bills
 July 20, 2011

Historically, workers’ compensation has been a legislative battlefield in California. With a new governor and many new senators and members of the assembly, 2011 is likely to be another challenging legislative year. As these bills move through the legislative process. Here is a quick overview of some key workers’ compensation bills before the senate and assembly.

AB 11 (Portantino)
This bill would allow businesses with 20 or fewer employees and $1 million or less in receipts to receive a 20% tax credit on their workers’ compensation premium.

AB 211 (Cedillo)
This bill would authorize a supplemental job displacement benefit voucher of up $6,000 to pay for re-education and skill enhancement expenses for injured workers. The voucher would expire at the later of 2 years after the date it is furnished to the injured worker or 5 years after the date of injury. An employer that offers reemployment or continued employment would be exempt from providing the voucher.

AB 335 (Solorio)
This bill would require the DWC Administrative Director to publish on the DWC web site, and make available by mail and at district offices, a plain language booklet describing the workers' compensation claims process. Employee notices must be written in plain language and reference the booklet to permit employees to understand the context of the notices. The bill would amend notice provisions and procedures and require the administrative director to adopt reasonable rules for serving notices on employees.

AB 378 (Solorio)
This bill removes financial incentive for physician provision of compound drugs, and limits physician reimbursement for compound drugs. For pharmacy services, drugs or products not covered under the Medi-Cal payment system, the maximum reasonable fee is 83% of the average wholesale price (AWP) of the lowest priced equivalent drug/product. Until the Division of Workers' Compensation Administrative Director adopts a fee schedule for compound drugs, the maximum reasonable fee for compound drugs is the appropriate Medi-Cal fee for services, plus the sum of the amounts allowed for the ingredients. There would be no payment for any ingredient not identified by a valid National Drug Code, number of units, unit price, and
documented paid cost.

AB 584 (Fong)
This bill would require Utilization Review physicians to be licensed in California. Psychologists would also be required to be California licensed. Prior versions of this bill were vetoed by Governor Schwarzenegger.

AB 507 (Hayashi)
This bill would lower the threshold for prescriptions of pain medication, including opiates. It would create a new standard of "pain or a condition causing pain, including, but not limited to, intractable pain". The current threshold is "severe chronic
intractable pain". It is expected that the bill will be a amended to limit the applicability of the new threshold to cancer, end of life and palliative care.

AB 947 (Solorio)
This bill would extend Temporary Disability past the 104 week cap for an injury to reach maximum medical improvement, as required by the physician to complete treatment. The need for the additional treatment must not be caused by the injured worker’s willful failure of to undertake recommended medical treatment. The total aggregate disability payments cannot
extend more than 240 compensable weeks within a period of five years from the date of injury.

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