Bills Streamlining Workers’ Comp Claims System Pass Assembly Insurance Committee
Two California Chamber of Commerce-supported bills that streamline and expedite the workers’ compensation claims process passed the Assembly Insurance Committee on March 30.
- AB 228 (Fuentes; D-Sylmar) stops delays in the claims process by exempting State Compensation Insurance Fund (SCIF) staff from state furloughs since the positions are supported by premiums paid by SCIF members.
Under current law, SCIF employees are exempt from hiring freezes and staff cutbacks because SCIF is entirely self-sustaining. SCIF is supported by premiums paid by policy holders, not through the state’s general fund or other parts of the budget.
Accordingly, when state-mandated furloughs are applied to the SCIF staff, the state government does not save money. The furloughs only delay claims and other services for SCIF members.
- AB 335 (Solorio; D-Anaheim) allows the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers’ Compensation (CHSWC) to participate with the workers’ compensation administrative director (AD) in developing regulations regarding notices to injured workers.
The bill requires the AD and CHSWC to develop and make accessible a booklet written in plain language about the workers’ compensation claims process, and to streamline and simplify other notices to employees.
A CHSWC report released in July 2010 noted that stakeholders in the system agree benefit notices are too voluminous, complex, confusing, misleading, and overwhelming. Moreover, notices lack standardization, fail to convey information needed by injured parties and made it difficult for employers to stay updated.
AB 335 will create better outcomes for injured workers by providing them with more digestible information at key points in the claims process. This should lead to a reduction in frictional legal expenses that result from confusion and poor communication.
CHSWC estimates that the bill will provide a net savings of more than $42 million a year.
AB 228 moves on for a vote on the Assembly floor; AB 335 will be considered next by the Assembly Appropriations Committee.