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Related Categories: California | Labor & Workers
Stop CA AFL-CIO Leadership & Corporate Attack On Injured Workers-IWNN Statement On SB 863
by Injured Workers National Network IWNN
Tuesday Aug 28th, 2012 1:25 PM
The Injured Workers National Network is opposing the anti-injured worker SB863. This bill would seriously hurt injured workers and their right to legal representation. The IWNN is also opposing the secret deal that the California AFL-CIO leadership including Art Pulaski and CA AFL-CIO Legislative Director Angie Wei negotiated with Safeway and Disney along with other corporations in secret to cut costs for these anti-labor corporations while hurting seriously injured workers. IWNN will also be having a press conference on September 6, 2012 at 9:00 AM to challenge these attacks.
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Injured Workers National Network IWNN Stands Against CA CHSWC Board's Attack on Injured Workers And In Opposition To CA AFL-CIO Support For SB 863
IWNN Opposes Secret Meetings By CA AFL-CIO Legislative Director Angie Wei and California AFL-CIO to "reform" Workers Compensation And Leaving Out Injured Workers Voices

The California legislator's Commission On Health and Safety and Workers Compensation CHSWC board has decided to make a deal with the California AFL-CIO top officials & the legislators to eliminate the third leg of the applicant (injured workers) attorneys. These attorneys were the professionals that the union referred their union members to! Now the unions are cutting of the third leg to help the state with employers to further harm injured workers!

Under this bill:

*This workers compensation package grants injured workers an illusory $720 million increase in permanent disability benefits while actually cutting benefits. It will reduce benefits for most injured workers in greater amounts than SB 899 did in 2004.

*It mandates the establishment of the Medicare Fee Schedule for workers’ compensation treatment and this will reduce injured workers’ access to specialty medical care, make it more difficult for injured workers to prove the cause and extent of their disabilities and increase employers’ insurance premiums.

*It permits employers to delay payments of permanent disability benefits and creates roadblocks that will discourage injured workers from returning to work.

*The proposed Independent Medical Review (IMR) system will further delay injured workers’ treatment, deny workers due process of law and will be very costly for employers.

The state union leadership with Angie Wei, the AFL-CIO Legislative Director and also chairwoman of the CHSWC board has decided to collude with Governor Brown and corporations like Safeway Inc and Disney Corporation to sell out more benefits for injured workers, thus, omitting more money for applicant attorneys. Either way injured workers lose yet again as usual with the promise of more benefits, seldom seen by injured workers who suffer serious injuries and or illnesses caused by negligent employers.

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-california-comp-bill-difficulties-20120827,0,1832553.story

Angie Wei has publicly stated that she prioritize to bring "efficiency to the system" and "And in a prediction likely to please business interests, the labor leader said, "We think we can deliver real savings to the employers who pay the bills." Is this the way unions treat their own member by giving savings to employers who caused the injury or illness in the first place?

http://www.latimes.com/business/money/la-fi-mo-comp-deal-faces-opposition-20120814,0,7244613.story

California AFL-CIO leaders Angie Wei and Art Pulaski were also "neutral" on former Governor Schwarzenneger’s SB 899 which Wei now calls a “draconian bill”. At the time, they urged the labor movement not to take a stand against the anti-injured worker bill.

http://www.nasi.org/events/archive

http://www.calaborfed.org/index.php/page/sb_863_real_workers_comp_reform_to_reduce_costs_and_help_injured_workers

Christine Baker, the director of the California Department of Industrial Relations DIR has also publicly supported this new “reform” bill SB 863 and is seeking to push it throught the legislature. There have been no hearings by the Commission On Health and Safety and Workers Compensation on this proposed bill where all parties including injured workers would have the opportunity to speak out on the dangerous measures contained in this bill.

Furthermore not only are the Applicant Attorney’s Association representing workers compensation lawyers opposing the bill but the Voters Injured at Work organization VIAW is opposing this bill. In the past the California AFL-CIO supported this organization and said that they represented injured workers in California yet there are no injured workers organizations that are supporting this bill.

As always this is about takeaways in the California Workers' Compensation system with the promise of increasing benefits that seriously injured workers seldom see.

Why should injured workers give up certain injuries or illnesses to attain more permanent disability when this is already promised to them about a hundred years ago.. Every reform are in actuality benefits that are taken away from injured workers with the pseudo promise of increasing more benefits. Legislators now with the AFL-CIO have made a deal with the devil to deny more, There isn't much left for injured workers, nor was there ever going to be, as the politicians continue to erode what little benefits are left for the working class!

The Injured Worker National Network Stands for

*Elimination of ACOEM rules/guidelines

*Elimination of the Qualified Medical Examiner QME and the availability of doctor or your choice.

*Criminal felony penalties for fraud by insurance companies and employers for withholding required healthcare and terrorizing injured workers.

*Investigation of cost shifting by employers and the insurance industry and criminal fraud prosecution for such illegal activity.

California injured workers cannot afford another bill that punishes injured workers and covers up the fraud by corporations and the insurance industry who are once again attacking the injured workers of California

Please contact your union, Labor Council and the California AFL-CIO at (510)663-4000 and (916)444-3676x12 and and your California legislators and call for a no vote on California SB 863 (Lieu).

Also there will be a press conference at the September 6, 2012 meeting of the California Commission on Health And Safety and Workers Compensation CHSWC.

The press conference will be at 9:00 AM at 1515 Clay St. in Oakland California. The Commission hearing begins in the Auditorium at 10:00 AM

For more information call

(916)342-6608

http://www.iwnn.org
§Governor Brown at AFL-CIO Meeting
by Injured Workers National Network IWNN Tuesday Aug 28th, 2012 1:25 PM
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Angie Wei who is the Legislative Director of the California AFL-CIO and chair of the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers Compensation is concerned about saving money for employers and has been meeting secretly with Safeway and Disney bosses to help them out while excluding injured workers from the negotiations.
§Art Pulaski on far left of Brown
by Injured Workers National Network IWNN Tuesday Aug 28th, 2012 1:25 PM
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California Labor Federation Executive Secretary Treasurer Art Pulaski on the far left of Brown in picture wants more partnership with the corporations in California and is working with Governor Brown to cut the state budget on the backs on injured workers in SB 863. Pulaski has excluded California injured workers from negotiations on the so called "reform" of workers compensation.

Comments  (Hide Comments)

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SB 863 And California AFL-CIO Angie Wei's Deal with Bosses and Gov Jerry Brown
"Ms. Wei, are you really this stupid?" Or "It's their own back room secret sweet heart deal"
Submitted by Stan (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 8:41am.
http://www.californiaprogressreport.com/site/sb-863-real-workers’-comp-reform-reduce-costs-and-help-injured-workers
Jerry Brown is showing his true colors as a wolf "Schwarzenegger" in "Democrat's" clothing. This Governor appears to be firmly in the pockets of Corporate & like minded special interest. It's just more of the same shady & secret backroom deals w/ special interest, which are not unlike what Schwarzenegger did w/ the SB899 debacle...everyone should be asking how many times has this type of situation has worked well for the general public?

Actual injured workers (remember them?) never get a say in the process, a seat at the table, or is their ever worsening plight considered as they are increasingly lining up at poverty soup lines begging for crumbs in the WC system...they are merely pawns in a dirty & dangerous chess game for big dollars.

None of those pundits behind SB863 has ever been injured on the job; or have they faced this dehumanizing & dysfunctional system that employs diabolical "D" tactics of...Delay, Deny, and Demonizing injured workers...

What Schwarzenegger did to hard working & honest workers who were injured on the job was an outrageous travesty...What Jerry Brown and these insider cronies are doing is much worse; adding more insult to injury...rubbing salt in the wounds of every California average Joe that gets up each day & goes to work...not knowing they are just an injury away from being tossed into a never ending cycle of dehumanization and sorrow.

The California Workers Compensation System is so dysfunctional; it doesn't need another bad reform...it needs a serious dismantling...the Great Compromise has turned into nothing more than a Great Corporate $Give Away$...& a never ending nightmare for anyone who experiences a significant injury on the job & is thrown into this unforgiving and grossly unfair system.

Injured workers deserve better...as citizens of a Nation that once prided itself in the rule of law & equal justice for all....isn’t it about time to once again allow those wronged & injured in the work place by no fault of their own; the constitutionally promised ability to seek actual justice in a court of law before a jury of their peers...not in some Sacramento derived & rigged system that only serves the bureaucrats & money barons.

quote from an appellate lawyer "What an ideal world it would be for business if injured workers just accepted the few crumbs they get, did not contest the denials, just remained silent and unrepresented. If only these injured workers would be sheep that go quietly and without protest to slaughter instead of hiring lawyers to help them with their claims."

With all due respect to Angie Wei; This bill sb863 in actual reality decreases benefits and due process rights retroactively to most injured workers. It places injured workers further under the thumb of the insurance barons who are all about profits before all else. sb863 decreases access to unbiased & needed medical care..

The secrecy in which this bill has been created and exclusion of effected parties from the process is wrong & is enough in itself to make this poor legislation. This attempt to ram rod a bill through the legislature without proper & independent evaluation of sb863 devastating effects is plain sleazy. Angie Wei appears to be just another Sacramento political animal wearing different bureaucrats stripes; making workers comp & injured workers once again nothing more than a political football. She does not speak for the many thousands of injured workers in California. So who is she really speaking for?

This is a bad bill, bad politics, bad policy, and another horrendous & inexcusable set back for the good workers of California …

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Reform???
Submitted by Trotdoc (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 11:22am.
I fully agree with the above comment. As a psychiatrist who has been involved in the system for 20 years (with a "defense" reputation - I am certainly not carrying water for applicant "mills") I can confirm what the article states regarding the decimation of the system over the last several years. I have personally seen patients of mine suffer needlessly due to clinically vacuous, corrupt UR determinations, and I have evaluated 100's of QME/AME in which legitimately injured workers never received indicated treatment. This bill will only make things worse. "The devil is in the details" and the details are NOT friendly either to legitimately injured workers nor honest doctors. The insurance companies already are out of control, manipulating the law, disregarding the law. This will only make it worse. True reform is needed. But this is NOT true reform. No Difference from the last go-round, when I contacted every member of the "select committee" to offer non-partisan, clinically-sound suggestions - and all I got back was being put on every campaign-fund solicitation mailing list, Dem and Rep.

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All rhetoric. There is no
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 12:23pm.
All rhetoric. There is no substance to the Wei's statement that benefits increase by $740M. In fact that number is grossly overstated.

Wei negotiated on behalf of less than 13% of California's working population. In the meantime she has thrown those most affected by work comp - laborers not covered by collective bargaining - under the bus.

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Four scenarios to illustrate the unfairness/absurdity of this
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 12:41pm.
Injured worker A was robbed at gunpoint but suffered no injuries. Under your plan, he/she can file a claim for psych.

Injured worker B was robbed, beaten, raped and seriously injured in a gunpoint robbery but since they were physically injured, a psych claim would be barred under your law.

Injured worker C does not get along with his/her supervisor. Files a claim because this is not barred (no physical injury).

Injured worker D has a spinal cord injury due to a ladder fall but is barred from a psych claim for depression and suicide attempts under your law.

So your law effectively bars the most serious injury claims.

Clearly you have not thought this through. I can see barring sleep and sex claims, but an outright ban of physical mental claims is cruel and hurts IWs.

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Angie says: "The
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 1:51pm.
Angie says: "The Schwarzenegger “reform” has failed both employers and workers. The system is still unstable and costs are rising across the board. Now is the time for real reform that protects workers, eliminates waste and reins in costs for workers and businesses. This year, representatives from both labor and management came together to fix the system before we face another workers’ comp crisis. Admittedly, labor and management don’t agree often on many issues. But both sides see the crisis facing workers’ comp, and want to get ahead of the impending disaster before employers and injured workers are crushed by rising costs and no path to increased benefits.

After hundreds of hours of negotiations, a team from labor and management, with the support of the Department of Industrial Relations, has developed a workers’ comp reform package that drastically improves the system, increasing benefits and instituting savings throughout the system.
__________________________________________________________
Indeed SB899 has failed both the Employer and Injured worker and further place abled workers at risk if or when they become injured at work and become subjected to only one recourse--a dysfuntional workers compensation system. The SB899 promised a reform that would save millions of dollars in improved service delivery and at the same time raise the lebel of benefit to injured workers comproble to many States around the nation. Instead the collateral damages resulting from SB899 were the opposite for the employers and labor. In fact the only players that benefitted in this are the Insurance Corporation and the Politicians. The services delivery did not improve, in fact it created another layer of COSTLY and ineffective bureaucracy. I am referring to the duplicative functions of the ineffective; dispute driven UTILIZATION REVIEW examination. The results of that is the three D's that is described above--Deny, Delay, and Demonize. Where such power to provide "proper medical delivery" to injured worker (like myself) is relied upon --what I called a ghost doctor. A doctor who has never seen me nor have I that more often than not, has countered a medical opinion of my physician that actually made such medical treatment request. It is not only me that is being demonized but also an insult to my physician that is well respected among his peers, with more than twenty years of medical experiences and a Qualified Medical Examiner who has requested the treatment. The INSURANCE has a way of pitting ONE doctors' opinion over another. The latter off course is generally at the side of the Insurance that employs them (which in itself--a conflict of interest) not to mention another COST increases to the workers compensation system.

In the middle of this and the "politics" of the DIR, DWC, DOI, California Chamber of Commerce, Labor Union Leaders, the Justice system and the legislature that depend on INSURANCE LOBBY campaign contibutors; and THAT CONTROLS and complicated the workers compensation system in California are the INJURED WORKERS--who in this whole mess are ENTIRELY left VOICELESS.

The INJURED WORKER was supposed to be the center and most important part in this WHOLE debate. Instead every stakeholder are capitalizing from their own particular agenda at the COST of the INJURED WORKERS.

Defense and Applicant Attorneys and the Judicial System are profiting from a dispute regarding LAWS that govern the WC Systems. THE Corporate Lobbyist are capitalizing to control the workes compensation system, The Politicians are capitalizing on Lobbyist for their Campaign contribution and in exchange for their votes and political favors regardless of the impact it may have on the system; The Chamber of Commerce having a reign on and access power over DIR, DWC, SCIF, SIF and capitalizing on membership fees from their corporation; Pharmacuetical,Medical appliances and equipment company and members of employer of all sizes of business for thier existence.

While the injured workers and their physicians are left at the mercy of the Insurance Corporation that has a hold on the whole workers comp system. Everyone of these "stakeholders" has a financial interest that is driving the COST to workers comp to a unsustainable level. The INCREASE in cost has to come from somewhere. In the past I have observed that the first line of attack is to CUT BENEFITS TO INJURED WORKERS whether by means of delay; deny or demonizing them to give up their rights to benefits. The second line of ATTACK is the fear factor and threat to increase RATES OF WC Insurance premiums to the EMPLOYERS. So this tug - of- war does nothing for either one. It only pit LABOR against EMPLOYER. Which is the THIRD line of attack. Regardless of the outcome--the Politicians and the Insurance CEOs often reaps the favorable outcome.

WHEN in fact THEY are actually the problem in this SYSTEM. What ever decision they will be making in Sacramento, the public (EMPLOYER/EMPLOYEES/INJURED WORKERS/CARE PROVIDER) will have to live with it. And as I see it, WE (the people of California)ACTUALLY have a BIGGER STAKE if this bill SB 863 turn out to be WORST. It would be another tax payer resources that has been spent out and WASTED out of the CITIZENS' TREASURY; that could have been spent for better uses that will serve Californian as a WHOLE, particularly in this current economic climate.

IT IS BEST THAT THE PUBLIC HAS ACCESS TO THE DETAILS so WE can examine it. As everyone knows in this industry empirical data proves that INJURED WORKER's BENEFIT has been reduced by 40% to 70% as a result of the SB899 "reform". And, many conflicting and unclear laws that has been passed as a result of SB899 COST the industries another substantial amount of legal fees when litigated (i.e Cost-of-living-Adjustment). Had it not been for the astute eye of the accountant that discovered this FLAW in the law, there would not have been a final decision made by the California Supreme Court just over a year ago in 8/11/11, albeit the high-courts has the last say and for that a decided opinion is made, the legality is still remains a big question.

That will come in time when all the FACTS to the Legal DUE PROCESSES of the Plaintiff in this case (Baker v WCAB,XYZZXSJ02)nd ALL the POLITICAL FORCES and players behind the scene is REVEALED in the FUTURE.

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Another view in support of Wei
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 3:06pm.
Tom Rankin of the California Alliance for Retired Americans and a longtime advocate for injured workers provides an important historical perspective to this debate.

http://www.calaborfed.org/index.php/page/history_shows_sb_863_reform_the...

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sb 863
Submitted by stan (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 3:53pm.
No surprise that California Labor Federation is circling their wagons with like minded corporate interest....it's their own back room secret sweet heart deal...& Rankin after all is a member of their bureaucratic country club..

Just maybe for once organized labor leaders should start listening to the actual workers they are supposed to be representing; especially with a little wake up call like Proposition 32 looming over them...

So what are those who are actually concerned with injured workers rights and labor saying....

http://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2012/08/28/18720457.php

Wei & Brown might want to take heed before it's to late..

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sb 863 discriminatory
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 10:11pm.
Your argument ignores the obligation to justify cutting out the most significant of disabilities, psychological impairment caused by physical injury. Try justifying it without being arbitrary and discriminatory.

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It's A Cruel Joke
Submitted by Sam Gold (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 5:49pm.
Note the folks behind this Workers Comp Sham, Angie Wei and Shawn McNally, both members of CHSWC. Also note that their is no representation of injured workers in these negotiations, just a bunch of rhetoric to ram down our throats.

If this state seriously wants to create a reform, a very bad choice of words as the definition of the word reform means “the improvement or amendment of what is wrong, corrupt or unsatisfactory!” then all sides of the issue should be represented equally and maybe the person or persons who this system is supposed to help out will indeed get the help that they need, not just a bunch of chump change from some very greedy employers and insurers.

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Dear Ms. Wei As a doctor of
Submitted by Dr. Rod (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 8:34pm.
Dear Ms. Wei
As a doctor of chiropractic involved in the workers compensation system I couldn't disagree with you more. On the other hand I strongly agree with the comments from Stan and Trotdoc. Although SB 863 is being hailed as a “reform” that will increase benefits to injured workers, this bill does the opposite by dramatically and adversely limiting medical care to those injured at work. This bill will give unilateral control in all aspects of medical care to the insurance carriers. It will be easier to delay and deny medical treatment to injured workers, by allowing faceless doctors, many of whom are out of state, to render decisions regarding treatments that cannot be challenged.

As Stan noted above, the worker’s compensation system in California is large and complex, affecting a large variety of stake-holders. And in its current state, is dysfunctional at best.
I have seen many of my patients wait unnecessarily for medically and necessary care because of adverse U.R doctors determinations that frequently cite, quote and manipulate the same guidelines over and over again to deny care. If one was to listen to these doctors there are no effective treatments out there for many of the orthopedic conditions we are asked to treat. I can give many examples and cases where the patient has undergone a QME/AME evaluation in which the evaluating doctor outlines specific treatment recommendations, only to be denied by the U.R doctor, who never physically evaluated the patient at a later time when a request for treatment is submitted.

There is simply no rationale for attempting to move through such a far-reaching piece of legislation in the waning days of the legislative session, without proper vetting and review and most importantly, input from injured workers.

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Ms. Wei, are you really this stupid?
Submitted by Scott Solis (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 9:09pm.
Ms. Wei, are you really this stupid, or were you bought off? $740 million in new money to injured workers? And how does that happen with ratings going down because medical conditions are suddenly lopped off from consideration and the DFEC variable is eliminated? And we are to believe you because you are now the representative of all injured workers? How convenient that you leave out of the negotiations the California Applicants' Attorneys Association, the group most able to analyze the implications of legislation for injured workers. As soon as they looked at it -- as soon as your unseemly cabal was revealed -- they determined that for very serious low income earners their permanent disability money plummets -- where's that factoid in your propaganda? And you want to solve the medical problems that plague our system now due to Utilization Review nonsense by eliminating the only protection injured workers have left: review by Workers' Compensation Judges? This is dirty, dirty politics at the expense of those who can least afford it. You should be ashamed of your participation in this fiasco.

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SB 863 oppose
Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 10:06pm.
For the sake of injured workers and the public who will ultimately have to absorb the impact of their disability, reject the SB 863 workers compensation “reform.” The proposal to disregard mental disorders caused by physical injury when determining disability compensation is contradicted by science and lacks any valid support. This arbitrary exclusion was narrowly crafted in secret to benefit only a narrow segment of the population. The only advantage is for businesses that want to be excused from their responsibilities and shift them to the public deficit.

The exclusion of mental disorder is discriminatory on the basis of the disability that is the most significant -- with no other valid justification. The most definitive research conducted in the last seven years on the impact of an industrial on an injured workers’ future earning capacity was performed by the Rand Corporation on behalf of the Administrative Director for the Division of Workers’ Compensation in 2004/2005. It determined that when comparing all types of injuries -- from orthopedic, neurologic, internal medicine and others -- the most significant injury to result in a diminished future earning capacity came from psychological injuries. That is why psychiatric injuries are assigned the highest diminished Future Earning Capacity modifier (FEC, Category 8, 1.4 modifier). The vast majority of psychological injuries were compensable consequences of an industrial orthopedic injury. That is what 863 proposes to exclude.

The proposed “reform” is being falsely advertised as a way to make up for the 60% cut in permanent disability payments to injured workers that resulted from the 2005 law. In reality, the proposed changes would cut benefits for low wage workers, older workers, workers who cannot return to their jobs, workers who cannot earn what they used to make, and those with mental disorder. Psychological problems caused by brain injury would receive no permanent disability even though the Rand data show that these injured workers suffer a 49% loss in earnings --compared to 14% loss for the average injured worker.

The assertion that the state’s economy is better off with the proposed changes must be proven rather than simply assumed to be true. It is suggested that the economy is drained by money that flows from employers to insurers to injured workers, lawyers, doctors and workers in offices that handle the claims. But the jobs associated with handling claims contributes no less to the economy than the jobs from sectors who cry out for lower insurance premiums. Both sets of jobs circulate money in the state’s economy.

The path that makes the least demand on the public purse will be best for the public. Disabled people without workers compensation benefits will seek support and treatment from public resources. And if psychologically impaired people cannot support their children, the public is expected to do so. It is not as though 863 will end psychological disability and magically restore their earning power.

Compared to the proposal to excuse insurers from one of their more expensive responsibilities, maintaining the status quo would place less demand on public health, welfare, public disability and new unemployment claims. Why should this private responsibility be passed to the public and increase the deficit?

At the very least, the proposal should be studied via hearings rather than rushed through in secret. If the proposal is as beneficial for the public as proponents would have us believe, they have nothing to fear from hearings.

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SB 863
Submitted by Darin Powell (not verified) on Tue, 08/28/2012 - 10:43pm.
Why is it that our elected geniuses seem to think that money fixes all problems. My guess is that the injured will have to spend their new money on treatment that will no longer be provided. Doctors in the comp system will be paid 80% of what a doc in Medicare is paid. What specialist will want to be in the lowest paying system in California. It will be virtually impossible for them to be profitable in the Calif WC system. Psychiatric claims will be gutted in that you cannot be depressed if you get hurt, have chronic pain, lose job, house, and more ... Unless the psych problems stem from a violent crime...
There are so many problems with this system, and this Bill just adds more and more. It is amazing that we Californians have been in the top 10 in workers comp costs for 9 of the last 10 years, and that one year we weren't top 10, we were 13th. I wonder where we fall in benefits paid to injured workers as opposed to administrators/insurers...
Insurers making billions on the broken backs of injured workers
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