Following a public hearing on July 1 and a review of comments from a previous 15-day public comment period, the Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) has made additional revisions to its Copy Service Fee Schedule regulations. Members of the public are invited to present written comments regarding the proposed modifications to email@example.com until 5 p.m. on Saturday, November 8. Proposed revisions include:
1) Reinstating authorizations into the fee schedule to avoid a loophole that would have allowed for billing outside of the schedule. Additionally, authorizations have been defined including stating the specific uses and limitations on the type of information to be disclosed and a specific date after which the provider is no longer authorized to disclose the information.
2) Clarifying the regulations regarding records obtained from the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (WCIRB) and Employment Development Department (EDD). Claims adjusters will not be liable for subpoenaed records from the WCIRB and EDD when such records can be obtained without a subpoena at lower cost. Twenty dollars is allowed for records from EDD and $30 allowed for records from WCIRB.
3) Replacing the requirement that professional photocopier certificates be attached to each bill with supplying professional photocopier registration numbers.
The public can access WCIRB coverage information for employers for the past five years for free online. For coverage information beyond the past five years, the WCIRB charges $10 per year of coverage requested by way of a Coverage Research Service request. Over the last several years, the WCIRB has seen a marked increase in the number of subpoenas received requesting coverage information for cases before the WCAB. The number jumped from a low of approximately 1,300 in 2010 to a record high of 4,000 in 2013, 90% of which were to determine the identity of the insurer for a specific employer as of a specific date and which is readily available to the public at no cost on the WCIRB’s coverage website. The impact of the cost of these subpoenas on the system is a concern, particularly in view of the comment in Martinez v. Terrazas (2013) 78 Cal. Comp. Cases 444, 447, fn. 3 (Appeals Board en banc) that “in the context of a subpoena to recover costs associated with a subpoena to the WCIRB, the copy service would need to establish the expenses were incurred to prove or disprove a contested claim and that they were reasonable and necessary at the time incurred.” In that case, the parties participated in an agreed medical evaluation before the subpoena was served on the WCIRB requesting coverage information. Consequently, it appeared to the court that the identity of the employer’s insurer had been identified prior to the subpoena for coverage information being requested and was therefore not necessary.
In regards to EDD records, Unemployment Insurance Code section 2111 provides that EDD is only authorized to provide EDD records only if EDD has an existing lien in the WCAB case. If EDD does not have a lien, then no records can be provided, even if EDD receives a subpoena. If EDD has a lien, the records can be obtained for free upon request from the injured worker’s attorney. Attorneys can also request records with an Authorization signed by the injured worker for $15.