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A study issued by the Workers Compensation Research Institute shows medical costs for injured workers in California moderated before sweeping reforms were implemented.

CompScope Medical Benchmarks for California 14th Edition provides baseline data for monitoring the impact of the California’s reform legislation Senate Bill 863, which took effect on Jan. 1, 2013. For the study, WCRI examined the bill’s effect on the state workers’ compensation system and compared changes implemented through SB 863 with reforms in other states. The goal of the study is to set benchmarks for such systems in order to weigh their costs and benefits.

Researchers found that in 2010 and 2011, medical payments per claim in California grew by about 3%, down from 8% annual growth since 2005. According to the Insurance Journal, the drop can be attributed to stability of: prices paid for professional services; and use of non hospital services. However, hospital payments per inpatient visit increased significantly between 2006 and 2011, according to the report.

Based on experiences in other states, WCRI predicted that California’s shift to a “resource-based relative value scale fee schedule” likely will shift payments from specialty care to primary care providers