Small Business California
2311 Taraval Street
San Francisco, CA 94116
SB 1160 (Mendoza) Workers’ Compensation Signed by the Governor: SB Cal actively participated in Department of Industrial Relations Director Christine Baker’s stakeholder meetings and worked with labor, the Senate Labor and Industrial Relations and Assembly Insurance Consultants, and the workers’ compensation community to develop and finalize SB 1160. This bill will make numerous changes to the utilization review (UR) process and among other things, streamline the workers’ compensation claims process during the first 30 days of a claim. SB 1160 will also ensure better data collection, necessary to determine benefit delivery and whether benefits are paid at the appropriate amount, by increasing the penalty on claims administrators who fail to report their claims data to the WCIS (Workers’ Compensation Information System). This bill also makes important changes to the lien filing processes by reducing unnecessary lien filings and will clarify existing law on collections companies who attempt to bill employers with lien assignments. Ultimately, SB 1160 will reduce delays in the providing medical care and expedite appropriate treatment by increasing the communication between treating physicians and UR reviewers. This was a consensus bill between the stakeholders. The concerns and recommended system improvements were raised by the stakeholders, following the enactment of SB 863 in 2012. The issues were discussed and several studies approved by the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation whose membership is comprised of labor and management representatives were used in the development of this bill. SB 1160 is projected to save California businesses over $800 million in workers’ compensation costs. This translates into better and more efficient care for our injured workers and lower costs paid by small businesses.
AB 1244 (Gray) Workers’ Compensation Physician Fraud Signed by the Governor: SB Cal actively participated in the stakeholder discussions that resulted in the development of this bill. AB 1244 will require the administrative director of the Division on Workers’ Compensation to suspend any physician, practitioner, or provider from participating in the workers’ compensation system if, among other things, the physician, practitioner, or provider has been convicted of any felony or misdemeanor involving fraud or abuse of the Medi-Cal program, Medicare program, or workers’ compensation system. Assembly Bill 1244 will also prohibit participation in these programs, if the individual’s license, certificate, or approval to provide health care has been surrendered or revoked, or if that individual or entity has been suspended, due to fraud or abuse, from participation in the Medicare or Medicaid programs. Furthermore, this bill will require the administrative director to adopt regulations for suspending a physician, practitioner, or provider from participating in the workers’ compensation system pursuant to these provisions and would require the administrative director to furnish to the physician, practitioner, or provider written notice of the right to a hearing regarding the suspension and the procedure to follow to request that hearing. The bill will require the administrative director to promptly notify the appropriate state licensing, certifying, or registering authority of a physician’s, practitioner’s, or provider’s suspension and to update the division’s databases of qualified medical evaluators and medical provider networks. This comprehensive measure would require the administrative director to notify the chief judge of the division of a suspension under these provisions, as specified, and post a notice on the department’s Internet Web site. The bill would enact special lien proceedings for the adjudication of any liens of a physician, practitioner, or provider who has been suspended pursuant to these provisions because he or she has been convicted of a felony or misdemeanor that meets specified criteria. Assembly Bill 1244 (Gray) is a very important bill that will effectively reduce the fraud associated with providers who take advantage of injured workers through inappropriate treatment. Small businesses pay for the added costs associated with provider fraud which results in increases to their workers’ compensation premiums.
AB 654 (Jackson) Parental Leave Vetoed by the Governor: SB Cal actively opposed SB 654 that would have expanded the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) under the California Family Rights Act (CFRA) to prohibit an employer with 20 or more employees from refusing to allow an employee with more than 12 months of service with the employer, and who has at least 1,250 hours of service with the employer during the previous 12-month period, to take up to 12 weeks of parental leave to bond with a new child within one year of the child’s birth, adoption, or foster care placement. Additionally, this bill would have prohibited an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes this leave. Existing law already prohibits an employer from refusing to allow a pregnant employee to take a leave of absence after the birth of the child for up to 4 months before returning to work. Existing law also prohibits an employer from refusing to maintain and pay for coverage under a group health plan for an employee who takes that leave. SB Cal made it very clear to the Governor that if enacted, SB 654 would create a hardship on small businesses with 20 or more employees by imposing a mandate that these employers provide a 12-week protected leave of absence. This would have been especially difficult for small businesses who have multiple employees who already have protected leave and because the employer must hire and train a temporary employee to cover the employees’ duties.
2016 proved to be a very important year for Small Business California and its members in ensuring the Governor’s signature on two bills that will remove hundreds of millions of dollars out of our state’s workers’ compensation system, thereby significantly reducing costs to small businesses, and securing the Governor’s veto on the expansion of the CA Family Rights Act that would have put an extreme hardship on the backs of California’s small businesses. SB Cal is truly the Big Voice for Small Business!
Small Business California