The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) examines the health and safety and workers’ compensation systems in California and makes recommendations to improve their operation. CHSWC is composed of eight members appointed by the Governor, Senate and Assembly to represent employers and labor.
At the request of the Executive Branch, the Legislature and the Commission, CHSWC conducts research, releases public reports, presents findings, and provides information on the health and safety and workers’ compensation systems. They have just released the 247 page 2020 Annual Report.
Some of the highlights of the many topics covered in the Report include:
The Return-to-Work Supplemental Program administers a $120 million fund that makes supplemental payments to workers whose permanent disability benefits are disproportionately low in comparison to their earnings losses. A recent CHSWC study by RAND that evaluated the Return-to-Work Fund found a low rate of receipt of the RTWSP among eligible workers. CHSWC made a number of recommendations including increasing outreach and notification to help increase participation.
Research on the impact of the 2012 workers’ compensation reforms on earnings losses suggests that SB 863 has likely met its primary objective of restoring adequate wage replacement rates, although some inequities still exist in these rates across impairments.
The DWC recently adopted changes in its Physician Services/Non-Physician Practitioner Services Fee Schedule to encourage greater use of telehealth in light of the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Commission recommended that administrators monitor and study the use of telehealth and other medical care changes in WC in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In recent years, criminal indictments and prosecutions have highlighted the extent of medical provider fraud in the WC system. Estimates of the cost of this fraud to participants in the WC system are as high as $1 billion per year. They as that officials consider recommendations in the RAND report “Provider Fraud in California Workers’ Compensation” related to provider fraud.
A CHSWC study found that between $15 billion and $68 billion in payroll is underreported annually. A related study on split class codes found that 25 to 30 percent of low-wage payroll is underreported or misreported.
SB 1159 (2020) would require the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation to conduct a study of the impacts of COVID-19 and the specific presumptions created by this bill and report its findings to the Legislature and the Governor.
SB 1159 provides that a preliminary report from CHSWC is due to the Legislature and the Governor by December 31, 2021, and the final report must be delivered by April 30, 2022.