Monday, October 24, 2016

Workers compensation law protest fills Echo Park sidewalks*

What is all the honking and hollering about at Sunset Boulevard and Lemoyne Street?At  least 100 protestors jammed the sidewalks in front of State Senator Kevin De León’s field office in Echo Park late this morning as part a campaign to oppose his legislation- Senate Bill 863– that would modify the state’s workers compensation law.  The changes have been opposed by attorneys who fear it will reduce business, according to the Sacramento Bee.

*Update: A press release issued by De León’s office this afternoon said the protestors were paid by the opponents of his legislation.  “It is clear that the profiteers behind the existing system have orchestrated this in order to hold on to a broken system that benefits them at the injured workers’ expense.”

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  1. According to the Bee: “A last-minute plan to overhaul California’s workers’ compensation system making its way through the Legislature has set up an unusual set of alliances: Unions and employers are together pushing for changes, while lawyers who represent injured workers are trying to stop them.

    The plan laid out in Senate Bill 863 calls for changing the formula used to calculate benefits for injured workers, raising their payments by an average of 29 percent while eliminating aspects of the process that are frequently subject to lawsuits, such as enhancements for psychiatric problems, sexual dysfunction or loss of sleep. That would mean less business for attorneys, who filled a Capitol hearing room Tuesday to oppose the bill.”

    Hardly makes a strong case for opposing the bill.

  2. Is this a shot at lawyers because Kevin never became one? After his Republican stint with the Huffington campaign in Santa Barbara, Kevin went to work with One Stop Immigration – he probably had an epiphany for such a stark change in political views. While at One Stop, he repeatedly claimed to be a lawyer to the desperate clients he was “serving”. Then One Stop went out of business, keeping client deposits and not paying staffers. Although Kevin got paid.

  3. The bill would also require the translators who work for the attorneys to be “certified” to perform their work, not just someone who can translate a language. The “protesters” who showed up today were apparently the very translators these attorneys use for their cases – just hired to do a different job today I guess…

    • You should get informed before making such ignorant comments. I am a Court Certified Interpreter and I was present at the protest against SB 863 because my job as a CERTIFIED Interpreter and Translator is at stake. I was not paid, nor were the colleagues who were present as well, to step up to the plate to protest against such an unfair reform. I wonder what your job is… Apparently you have no idea how the Interpreter system works in California Read and understand the Labor Code

  4. I am opposed to the proposed work comp reform bill SB863. There does need to be reform in the work comp arena but this is not the bill to do it. What drives up the cost is work comp insurance companies that continually deny an injured worker proper care due him.

    When a doctor from the employers MPN network knows that the injured worker needs an MRI, Physical therapy, X-Rays, etc. he/she requests authorization and a majority of the time it is denied. Patient is waiting to get the care he needs to get back to work. Now the doctors has to resubmit (cost more money) – insurance company may deny or modify what the dr has asked for again and again.

    I know personally of an injured worker that worked in a body shop … hurt his shoulder on the job. His employer had work comp insurance through SCIF. His dr wanted an MRI done and it took months!! SCIF kept denying the request. Now you have a patient who can’t use his right arm, fustrated for months and now goes and gets an attorney to help him get the care he neeeds. Why does this happen?? The doctor is preselected to be in the MPN network that the insurance company authorizes, why do they not trust his judgement. They are the reason costs are out of control.

    It’s amazing to me that the people that support this bill are self insured employers, unions, insurance companies. Why? Cuts their cost but does it benefit the injured worker. NO!! Why does a non-profit group VIAW – Voters Injured at Work oppose this? They were created by an injured worker to help others get through the system when they have problems navigating it on their own. If it was good for the injured worker – they would be in support. Injured worker attorneys would also be in support if it benefited their clients. They are not in support because it will hurt their cleints.

    Don’t let it be another SB899. Need to hear from ALL who this bill will affect. Not just the self insured and the insurance companies.
    This needs to be off for more open discussion – not behind closed doors.

  5. I am in the photo above. I was not paid to be there. I do not know a single other person who is pictured with me. Is the WC system broken? Yes? Should we legislate to fix it? Yes, but not on the backs of injured workers. There is waste and fraud as there is in the health care and legal systems.
    As “lisa” quotes above, there will be a new formula to calculate benefits; unfortunately it will only increase benefits for high wage earners, leaving out most minorities. The “enhancements” are actual necessary treatment. Imagine if you are no longer physically able to work or provide for your family? Depression and loss of sleep are natural outcomes of such a situation.
    “I Vote” has not read the bill nor knows existing law. Certified interpreters (translators are for written language) are who attorneys, both defense and applicant, currently send. Too bad the state stopped giving the test to certify interpreters so now there is a shortage of them. SB863 will give the insurers the power to send whoever they want, and often, that is a bilingual person rather than a qualified interpreter. Insurers have contracted with out of state interpreting agencies who take the work away from local interpreters, then offer them the job back at a fraction of what they made before. If this bill passes it will cut jobs and send important tax dollars to those agencies out of state. Interpreters should remain a neutral 3rd party.
    Lastly, “Debby” has the jist of it. Sometimes the system just fails an injured worker. Like with foreclosures, some people just fall through the cracks. That is why it is necessary for them to obtain legal council and seek treatment outside of the insurance’s contracted vendors. Taking this away will give all the power to insurance companies and the employers who drafted this bill behind closed doors.
    Please urge your state senator to vote no on SB863.

  6. It’s about time we attempt to put some tighter controls around the “WC Cookie Jar”. Wish we did the same thing for the MLS and real estate as well!! WC and Real Estate costs in SoCal are very analogous in this respect, i.e. easily abused/manipulated for the gain of a few.

    • SB 863 – fingers in the cookie jar are work comp insurance carriers, self-insured businesses, unions…..saves them money BUT does not benefit the injured worker. Sean McNally – Grimmway Farms says in informational hearing committee meeting that he “has no monetary” benefit from this bill”. What? Bill will give lower rates to the 3 above but not the rest of us small business owners. We expect to see a 12-18% increase in work comp rates. Self insured supporting this…Disney, Grimmway Farms, Safeway, UPS, etc. Companies screwing up the system and causing increased costs are the work comp carriers themselves. If they would quit denying medical treatment to the injured worker by doctors that they have “pre-approved” of for their MPN network.

  7. The battle to (incorrectly) reform California’s workers’ comp system is in full force with talk of deferring the SB 863 for next year. Which will give more time to sort out the “poison” ? Maybe.
    Supporters behind a proposal to cut costs while raising permanent disability payments for injured workers ( a plastic carrot) introduced formal language in the form of extensive amendments to SB 863 that encompass much of what has been in circulation — and generating intense opposition — these past two weeks. Not surprisingly so since it was all done behind ‘locked’ doors and not involving some of the key players in this intricate industry. Why? Because the proposed revamped is mas flawed than what the system is right now.

    SB 863 was originally carried by Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance), but now in its amended form is championed by Sen. Kevin DeLeon (D-Los Angeles). Assemblyman Jose Solorio (D-Anaheim) is the principle co-author. The bill, which previously dealt only with workers’ comp liens, has been identified as the likely vehicle for the reform proposal if one was ever introduced. But failing to consider as to why the lien situation became behemoth. Why the insurance companies stopped paying “all” service providers. What the carriers have done is create a smoke screen of unpaid “everything” so that the avalanche of liens hit the WCAB’s like a tidal wave which has been building over the years! Giving a great excuse to address the symptoms not the cause. Claims examiners have marching orders to NOT PAY NADA. The turnover of claims examiners (adjusters) is an ever turning revolving door. The carelessness and incompetence of many who control the injured worker’s benefits and approval for treatment is appalling. SB 863 will make it even more removed and remote giving all the power to the very same people who botch a lot of it.

    The 170 pages of amendments still include changes to the permanent disability benefit process, would move medical treatment and billing disputes into a new independent review process outside the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and would drastically revamp the workers’ comp lien system — including the implementation of a $150 filing fee for new liens and require the payment of a $100 activation fee for older ones. Any lien holder that hadn’t paid the activation fee by Jan 1, 2014 would see their lien dismissed. This is openly a loss of of due process rights resulting from levying a $150 lien filing fee and $100 lien activation fee. These should effectively be called “taxes”. This part of asking for money for paperwork that is already in the system can be a tangible example of what the perpetrators of this so called reform are trying to do with a system that is part of the California Constitution.

    I know the state is broke but come on! SB 863 will impoverish the injured applicants and all of the service providers that support the claimant through a medical recovery period and all the way to the end be through a trial or final documents. If the unemployment and homeless rate here in the golden state is high wait and see what happens when you destroy not do a “real” reform of a system that assists the back bone of the 8th economy of the world. Is it still the 8th? SB 863 will Destroy thousands of jobs, not limited to attorney firms (both sides) doctors offices, surgery centers, therapists, offices, copy services, transportation services, interpreter services . It will dismantle the small business language service providers and be replaced by large corporations set up by carriers outside California which do not know the market nor the interpreters it dispatches nor the type of service needed.

    Reform? this is amputation without and epidural or anesthesia. A big machine controlling all aspects of work comp all the loss of accountability and appeals process to challenge inaccurate, or incorrect diagnosis by insurance doctors. Eliminating Agreed Medical Examiners from determining a true level of medical treatment.
    The loss of accountability and appeals process to challenge inaccurate, or incorrect diagnosis by insurance doctors. Is like a monopoly all the Medical control of injured worker’s treatment is given to the employer / insurance carrier. Reforms? What it is an elimination of as much as possible so that many will not qualify for the so called increased PD. Including diminished future earning capacity, eliminates age modifications of PD ratings and so much more.
    The proposal also includes changes to provider payments, including the move to a resource-base relative value scale for physicians, as well as subjecting other services to fee schedules.

    At last estimate supporters pegged the savings at approximately $1.3 billion and $700 million in increased permanent disability benefits for injured workers …blah blah Reform? this is amputation without and epidural or anesthesia.

    The California Applicants’ Attorneys Association and a list too long to publish here are calling on its members to continue opposing and keep fighting the bill and urge them to oppose the bill as is written.

    What will be the outcome? The Governor Brown Administration announced a week ago that it would support SB 863…the dead line is here and we will soon know in less than 24 hrs…this needs to be defer for now.

    Thank you for reading my opinions entwined with paragraphs and opinions of many other concerned individuals that see SB 863 as an unfinished product that needs a lot more tweaking…

    • As an injured worker I agree with everything you said. I was injured 4-1/2 yrs ago and it is a constant battle with the carrier. They have “forgot” to send benefit payments for over 6 weeks, delayed medical treatment which caused more harm and even though they accept the claim they have not paid for medications for 4 months or allowed me to see my primary WC doctor, that they approved. Their worse offense was delaying the approval of medication refills (non-narcotic) beyond 7 days limit which caused me to go through withdrawals 3 different times. While my daughter and best friend wanted me to go to the hospital, I was afraid that the carrier would deny the hospital bill. They had already denied my medical bills numerous time when I fractured my ankle after falling even when the AME stated the fall was due to my injury. Then there is the issue where the carriers cut off your benefits without any advanced warning. I got my letter over a month after they stopped the payments. I am on a constant a roller coaster ride, always waiting for the other shoe to drop. The carrier’s actions just continues to add to my depression.

      As the laws were previously to this new “reform” injured workers had very little say in what the carrier did. Those so called “penalties” the carriers receive for going beyond the time limits go away once they comply. Now, thanks to these “new” reforms IWs have even less control of their live, they will face further financial difficulties and the comp carriers will increase their ability to further limit the continuity of care. What good is getting a little more money in a check when you have no control over your care or life once you are injured.

      For the person who thinks that there is some kind of WC honey pot, it doesn’t exist. I would much rather be working than making a third of what I use to make. Did I mention that WC cut off my benefit 7 months ago? These changes benefit the carriers and hurts the injured worker even more. We were sold out. I just wonder how much money the businesses and insurance carriers promised to donate to the CA legislators and Gov. Brown’s war chests?

      People supporting this bill, who have probably never been seriously injured on the job have no idea what injured workers go through.

  8. Excellent analysis. The system is broken, but this is NOT the way to fix it. It will indeed lead to more unemployment and worse medical care for the injured worker.

  9. concerned citizen

    I’m a state certified medical interpreter and I took time off work to come and protest this outrageous senate bill that is NOT work comp reform but instead a TAKEOVER by insurance companies and their cronies ,the labor unions. In response to a prior comment, interpreters in the work comp industry are paid by the insurance companies NOT the attorneys. Ignorant uneducated comments only help De Leon Type politicians who are in the pockets of these insurance companies and labor unions. The fact of the matter is that if this SB becomes law the rights of injured workers will be massively violated!

  10. I love how when a protest supports a politician like Kevin De Leon it is “grass roots” and “the people taking ownership”. But when it goes against him, we are all paid by attorneys or other interest groups to be there.

    As a matter of fact I was there in protest of SB863. As much as I think Work Comp system could be improved, putting the decisions of injured workers into the hands of large insurance companies and labor unions is a colossal mistake.

    No one paid me to be at the protest, I was there on my own and actually lost money that day to be present. I support the rights of injured workers as well as businesses and the jobs of workers that provide vital care to them.

  11. Vexed and Perplexed

    Also, not mentioned so far: There was a new authorized increase to employers’ wc insurance premiums at the rate of 12%. This new legislation does not represent a savings to employers, this is not a savings to the State either since the WC system is paid by a fund created by the insurance companies. This is just one more attempt by insurance companies to maximize their profits since 2.5 billion dollars per quarter are not enough for them. Injured workers suffer from delayed unauthorized medical care, providers like pharmacies, doctors, interpreters, and even the very same attorneys defending the insurance companies go unpaid for years and later on punished for filing liens by having their liens thrown out over a technicality or a misrepresentation by the insurance co.
    Sb863 proposes to charge over 150 dollars to those providers if they want to be able to file a lien. Why are providers punished by this “tax” ? Shouldn’t filing a lien be a part of their legal rights and due process?
    This new proposed legislation is another example of the greedy 1%ers abuse of the 99%.
    And unless you are the insurance company, everyone must oppose this legislation.

    This bill is going to bring the unemployment rate up. Leaving many with out jobs. The injured workers will be waiting months for any kind of treatment or should i say waiting for a DENIAL from the Insurance Co.
    How does this benefit patients?

  13. I was one of the injured workers present in the meeting at this protest. AND I WAS NOT PAID TO BE THERE and unless the people saying that can prove otherwise. I would appreciate you closing your mouth.

  14. Does anyone think that standing on a sidewalk with a sign is an effective way to protest in 2012?

  15. It is a shameful bill. There are many workers who get injured, and a disproportionate number of them are Latino, because they do much of the heavy work. These workers do suffer physical injuries and also emotional scars as well as sleep and sexual disorders. Shame on rep De Leon for turning his back on injured workers and the Latino community. We should remember his name and vote him out of office when we go to the polls next time.

  16. I work as a Spanish Medical Interpreter for an Interpreting Agency that works with doctors who only deal with WC claims and now my career is at risk. For the people who say it is just some random person who speaks Spanish that does the job I went to school for 3 years of my life and I am currently saving to pay for my Bachelors degree in Spanish. I have my associates in Spanish and have completed a medical, business and legal program for community interpretation from an accredited college and now you are telling me that all my hard work working 16 hours a day to pay for my own education is now worthless. This is not something that will help injured workers this is a law to just help the insurance companies keep control of injured workers and treat them even worse then they already do and I know this first hand.

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