Each year the California Chamber of Commerce releases a list of “job killer” bills to identify legislation that will decimate economic and job growth in California. The CalChamber will track the bills throughout the rest of the legislative session and work to educate legislators about the serious consequences these bills will have on the state. Last year, 32 bills identified as “job killers” were introduced in the California Legislature. These “job killers” had something for every business and industry in California to hate – automatic minimum wage increases, increased employer liability, new barriers to economic development, more regulations and higher taxes on business.
In 2012, the California Chamber claims to have stopped 28 of these 32 “job killers.” In 2013 they may have a tougher job, facing now a super majority of democrats in both houses of the state legislature. Many of last years bills were defeated by veto of Governor Brown. This year his veto can be over come by the legislature.
The CalChamber has identified the first “job killer” bill of the year. SB 626 (Beall; D-San Jose) severely undercuts the recent balanced workers’ compensation reform deal (S.B. 863) agreed to by labor unions and employers. The bill proposes dramatic cost increases for California employers and would leave them worse off than before the reforms of last year were enacted. SB 626 eliminates the entire balance of the deal and would erase hundreds of millions of dollars in projected savings. Specifically, SB 626 would roll back reforms dealing with timely, high-quality medical treatment and a more predictable – and less litigious – permanent disability system.
The CalChamber claims that “not only will employers face pre-reform escalating costs if this bill is enacted but they will also be burdened by an additional $1 billion in benefit increases with no expectation that this cost will be offset by system savings.”
If passed into law, “SB 626 is a giant step backwards for California employers during the current fragile economic recovery. Additionally, SB 626 reverses a bipartisan labor-employer compromise. These types of agreements between key stakeholders that enjoy overwhelming bipartisan approval should be encouraged and protected, not attacked and diluted.”
- It eliminates the cornerstone cost-saving provision contained in SB 863 -independent medical review. Under SB 626, independent medical review decisions would be fully appealable to the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board, taking medical necessity decisions away from physicians and putting them back in the hands of judges. It would also result in treatment delays for injured workers. The savings associated with independent medical review are estimated at around $400 million.
- It repeals a provision in SB 863 that eliminates impairment ratings for psychiatric add-ons in some, but not all, cases. Numerous data driven analyses demonstrated applicant attorneys had excessively abused this add-on to artificially inflate permanent disability ratings.
- It repeals a provision in SB 863 that prohibits a chiropractor from being a primary treating physician once the maximum number of chiropractic treatments have been received.
- It unnecessarily limits utilization review and independent medical review by requiring that the reviewing physician hold the same license as the physician requesting treatment. Current law requires reviewers to be competent to evaluate the specific clinical issues involved in the medical treatment and utilize relevant, evidence-based medical treatment guidelines, which are not state-specific.