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An article in the Insurance Journal says it was an “interesting but quiet year” for California Lawmakers on Workers’ Comp.  Bills signed by Gov. Jerry Brown included laws on pharmaceutical compounding, preventing out-of-state athletes from filling for workers’ comp, funding for the state’s prescription drug monitoring program and more. There were 17 total, according to a list compiled by the California Workers’ Compensation Institute (CWCI). But overall, it was a quiet year in terms of workers’ comp laws, as expected.

Pharmacy Billing (SB 146, Lara): Eliminates the requirement that copies of prescriptions be sent with requests for payment unless the provider entered into a written agreement to do so. Also enables any entity that was denied payment of a pharmacy bill submitted from Jan. 1 to March 31, 2014 to resubmit the bill if payment was denied for failure to include a copy of the prescription. It allows payers to request copies of prescriptions for a review of records of prescriptions dispensed by a pharmacy.

Electronic Transmittal of Policy Info (SB 251, Calderon): Allows insurers to electronically transmit offers of renewal, notices of conditional renewal and offers of coverage, and sets requirements for doing so.

Compounding Pharmacies (SB 294, Emmerson): Prohibits pharmacies without a California Sterile Compounding Pharmacy License from compounding or dispensing sterile drug products for injection, ocular administration or inhalation, and requires out-of-state pharmacies compounding these products for shipping to California to have such a license as well. Also requires the pharmacies to allow annual inspections and removes the option for accreditation from outside agencies.

SB 863 Technical Corrections (SB 375, Senate Labor Committee): Corrects erroneous cross-references included in Senate Bill 863 – including changing a reference to “administrative hearing” interpreters to “medical examination” interpreters – and making technical, clarifying, and conforming changes with respect to the provisions.

OSHA Standards – Meal/Rest/Recovery Periods (SB 435 Padilla): Applies Cal/OSHA’s heat illness prevention standard and other Cal/OSHA regulations to laws covering meal breaks and rest and recovery periods.

Paid Leave of Absence for San Diego Lifeguards (SB 527, Block): Enables full-time, year-round lifeguards employed by the City of San Diego to be eligible for “4850 leave” following a work injury.

Overprescribing Investigations (SB 670, Steinberg): Bolsters state medical board investigations of doctors suspected of overprescribing. Enables the board during investigations involving the death of a patient to inspect and copy the patient’s medical records by providing a written request declaring that after reasonable efforts, it is unable to locate or contact the patient’s beneficiary or representative. The bill also expands the definition of unprofessional conduct to include a physician’s repeated failure without good cause to be interviewed by investigators and allows an administrative law judge to issue an interim order limiting the physician’s authority to prescribe, furnish, administer or dispense controlled substances.

CURES (SB 809, DeSaulnier): Assesses an annual $6 fee on provider and dispenser licenses to fund the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES) monitoring program. The changes also require the state Medical Board to develop and distribute to physicians and acute care hospitals materials on assessing a patient’s risk of abusing or diverting controlled substances and information about CURES, and require the state to streamline the application and approval process for medical providers and pharmacists to access CURES.

Workers’ Compensation Death Benefits for Dependent Children (AB 607, Perea): Enables a deceased employee’s totally dependent children to receive workers’ comp death benefits irrespective of whether the employee’s surviving spouse is totally dependent.

Occupational Safety Standards for Hazardous Drugs (AB 1202, Skinner): Requires the Occupational Safety and Health Standards Board to establish safety and health standards for health care facilities with employees who work with or near antineoplastic drugs used in chemotherapy, which may cause rashes, infertility, miscarriages, and birth defects, and have been linked to a variety of cancers. The standards must be consistent with, but not exceed, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health recommendations.

Limits on Workers’ Comp Claims by Professional Athletes (AB 1309, Perea): Restricts cumulative trauma and occupational disease claims by professional athletes in five sports (baseball, basketball, football, ice hockey and soccer), especially those who played for out-of-state teams, under specified conditions. According to the bill’s author, the California Insurance Guarantee Association has paid nearly $42 million in claims to professional athletes since 2002. An average of 34 new claims are being filed each month.

Interpreters (AB 1376, Hernandez): Delays DWC’s workers’ comp qualified medical interpreter certification regulations, required by SB 863, from taking effect until March 1, 2014.

State Compensation Insurance Fund Executive Appointments (AB 1394, Assembly Ins. Committee): Allows the State Fund Board of Directors to appoint a chief medical officer, a chief actuarial officer, a chief claims operations officer and a chief of internal affairs.

As for the next session or the next, both workers’ pundits expect to hear a growing cacophony from the chorus of workers’ comp stakeholders as the positive and negative impacts of SB 863 begin to be felt.