Through John P. Kamin
Wednesday July 21, 2021 | 0
The Assembly’s insurance committee failed to pass Senate Bill 335’s proposal to reduce the 90-day decision timeframe at its July 13 meeting.
The bill, which was introduced by Sen. Dan Cortese (D-San Jose), would have reduced the decision timeframe from the current 90 days to 45 days for most claims. The bill also provided for first responders’ presumption claims to have a 30-day decision period, which would have been a reduction from the current 45-day period.
Fortunately, the committee was unwilling to endorse these cuts, according to WorkCompCentral’s report on the committee meeting in mid-July. Although the committee did not have enough votes to pass the bill – it had seven votes but needed eight – it would not have approved the cuts even with enough votes. Lawmakers said they would have amended the bill to eliminate the language reducing decision times.
The main problem with the cutbacks, which we summarized here in May 2021, was that most defense lawyers and insurance adjusters agreed the bill would have resulted in a lot more denials. The California Workers’ Compensation Institute confirmed this in a detailed statistical analysis, which you can find here.
The bill would also have increased the monetary limit for medical treatment during the decision period from $ 10,000 to $ 17,000. Another change would have increased the penalties for unwarranted refusals of presumption allegations from the current penalty of up to $ 10,000 to an increased penalty of up to $ 50,000.
So where does this come from? According to WorkCompCentral, Cortese is apparently keen to increase penalties against employers.
Representative Tom Daly (D-Anaheim), who chairs the committee, said an increase in the penalty cap to $ 50,000 was not warranted. However, the President added that he would agree to increase the penalty to $ 25,000.
“Without more evidence or data, a larger penalty in my opinion is not prudent, especially since the penalties are paid by public entities,” Daly said.
Cortese and Daly have also expressed mutual interest in commissioning a study on presumption denials, but have taken no formal action in this regard.
Assuming Gov. Gavin Newsom wins his recall election and the 2022 election, Daly has hinted that there could be major workers’ compensation reform bills during the second term of office. Newsom.
“We will live with the reform of workers’ compensation in the months and years to come,” he said.
It’s good with us. We will be happy to continue posting updates on the latest legislative developments here.
John P. Kamin is a worker’s compensation lawyer and associate at the Woodland Hills location of Bradford & Barthel. He is the former legal writer for WorkCompCentral. This Bradford & Barthel blog entry appears with his permission.