The California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI) has completed a review of 2011 legislation signed by Governor Brown and flagged 20 workers’ compensation related bills that were enacted this year. They include:
• AB 55, Gatto: Extension of the right of entertainment production companies to use payroll firms as the employer of record to pay taxes, union dues and workers’ compensation.
• AB 228, Fuentes: Allows State Compensation Insurance Fund a limited ability to cover out-of-state employees of California employers.
• AB 300, Ma: Sets new requirements for safety, training and sanitation for those engaged in the business of tattooing, body piercing or permanent cosmetics.
• AB 335, Solorio: Calls for benefit notice changes in the content and delivery of benefit notices and other injured worker information.
• AB 378 Solorio: Sets guidelines for dispensing compound drugs to injured workers, defines when such drugs are reimbursable and reimbursement amounts, and eliminates incentives for doctors to refer patients to pharmacies in which they or their families have a financial interest.
• AB 397, Monning: Requires contractors to show proof of workers’ compensation coverage or exempt status (if they have no employees) when renewing their license with the state.
• AB 436, Solorio: Authorizes a $4.3 million loan from the Uninsured Employers Benefit Trust to the State Public Works Enforcement Fund to enforce prevailing wage requirements on public works projects.
• AB 469, Swanson: Requires private employers to give a new written notice to nonexempt new hires, with detailed wage and employment information and the name, address, and phone number of the workers’ compensation insurance carrier.
• AB 507, Hayashi: Revises the “Pain Patient’s Bill of Rights” and removes Department of Justice’s authority to: 1) employ a physician to interview and examine patients about the prescription, possession, or use of controlled substances; 2) require the patient to submit to the interview and exam; and 3) allow the physician to testify in administrative proceedings.
• AB 585, Fong: Extends the work-related cancer presumption given to firefighters and fire and rescue services coordinators to active firefighting members of a fire department serving NASA.
• AB 878, Berryhill: Requires workers’ compensation insurers to report the cancellation of a contractor’s policy to the State Contractors License Board and makes the violation of workers’ compensation laws a cause for disciplinary action by the License Board.
• AB 1136, Swanson: Requires general acute care hospitals to set up safe patient handling programs with trained lift teams or lift support staff and back injury prevention plans by 1/1/13.
• AB 1168, Pan: Requires the state to adopt by 1/1/13 a fee schedule setting maximum fees for services by vocational experts used in workers’ compensation claims
• AB 1263, Williams: Prohibits former State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) officers and directors from lobbying SCIF for 2 years after their employment ends, and requires that any consulting they do for SCIF be approved by SCIF’s Board.
• AB 1425, Assembly Ins. Committee: Allows insurers to disclose with the quote (prior to acceptance) that a policyholder’s premium may be refunded on other than a pro rata basis.
• AB 1426, Solorio: Abolishes the workers’ compensation court administrator position and redistributes the duties to the DWC Administrative Director and the Appeals Board.
• SB 457, Calderon: Requires the WCAB to determine, based on liens filed, reimbursement for benefits paid or services provided by self-insured employee welfare benefit plans, notwithstanding the Official Medical Fee Schedule, when payment for self-procured medical costs for a work injury or illness is awarded.
• SB 459, Corbett: Prohibits and sets penalties for the willful misclassification of employees as independent contractors.
• SB 684, Corbett: For policies issued or renewed on or after 7/1/12, workers’ comp insurers must disclose when a quote is provided if they want to use arbitration to resolve disputes and make explicit that businesses do not have to agree to out-of-state arbitration/dispute resolution.
• SB 826, Leno: Allows the DWC to fine claims administrators up to $5,000 per year for violating workers’ compensation information system data reporting requirements and calls for. an annual report showing claims administrator reporting compliance rates.
CWCI members and subscribers who log onto the Institute’s website, www.cwci.org, can access a Bulletin with a more detailed summary of each of these bills. Final versions of all of the bills, as well as their legislative histories and analyses, are also posted online at www.leginfo.ca.gov. To view a bill, click “Bill Information” and enter the bill number.