Workers’ compensation claims continue to be greatly affected by reform legislation enacted in 2012 (SB 863).
SB 863 funded and offset increases in permanent disability benefits with a portion of savings obtained from system reforms. SB 863 lowered system costs for employers by:
- Reducing delays and litigation in the system
- Addressing the lien epidemic
- Shortening the medical-legal process
- Implementing an independent medical review system for treatment disputes
- Implementing an independent bill review process for treatment services
- Streamlining the permanent disability schedule
Although some of the provisions of SB 863 took effect January 1, 2013, many of the laws require administrative/regulatory action before implementation. The DIR and the DWC have been working to prioritize and implement these regulations, but some implementation rules have still not been finalized.
In addition, some statutes, such as the permanent disability benefit increase, specifically apply only to injuries occurring on or after January 1, 2013. Other statutes only apply for dates of injury after January 1, 2014.
Employers should continue to expect that there will be challenges to the new reform laws through litigation and challenges during the regulatory process.
To the extent that any of the reform measures impact this chapter at the time of publication, updates have been made to reflect the legislative changes.