|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||CONTACT:|
|July 18, 1997||Christine Baker|
SAN FRANCISCO -- The California Commission on Health and
Safety and Workers' Compensation has released the second report
from its three year study of the impact of the Medical/Legal reform
on California's workers' compensation program.
The study was conducted by the Survey Research Center at the University
of California at Berkeley under contract with the Commission.
The first report, issued in 1996, evaluated the reforms to the
medical-legal process and found dramatic improvements since 1989
in the cost and frequency of medical-legal reports. Much of that
analysis required projections for the 1993 and 1994 accident years.
The current report, using more recent data, confirms those savings
and the accuracy of the projections.
These more recent data also suggest that the substantial savings,
especially for the 1993 and 1994 accident years, continue into
the 1995 accident year. The 1996 report found that substantial
savings resulted from changes in the Medical-Legal Fee Schedule
and the decline in psychiatric exams and claims. These trends
continue to be demonstrated in the 1997 reportís findings.
The costs of medical-legal exams have declined from a high of
$394 million in the 1991 accident year to an estimated $59 million
for the 1995 accident year.
In addition, data for the 1994 and 1995 accident years suggests
an additional source of major cost savings, the reintroduction
of the role of the treating physician. This legislative change
is likely responsible for a substantial portion of the decline
in the average cost and frequency of medical-legal reports on
claims occurring after January 1, 1994. However, these data
for 1994 and 1995 injuries come from special panels that are smaller
than the full panels drawn for 1989-1993. The survey conducted
during the current year, with a full panel of 3500 claims for
1994 injuries, will be important in analyzing this trend.
Finally, analysis of the time required to resolve PD claims continues
to demonstrate the resistance of the system to more rapid claim
resolution. The full 1994 panel, available late in 1997, will
be critical to determining if the 1993 reforms have finally been
able to achieve the goal of speeding up the claim resolution process.
A copy of this report can be obtained by writing to Christine
Baker, Executive Officer, Commission on Health and Safety and
Workers' Compensation, 30 Van Ness Avenue, Suite 2122, San Francisco,
CA 94102, by calling (415) 557-1304, or by faxing a request to
(415) 557-1385. This report is also available through the Department
of Industrial Relations' Internet servers' Commission on Health
and Safety and Workers' Compensation home page. The address is
The Commission, created by the workers' compensation reform legislation of 1993, is charged with overseeing the health and safety and workers' compensation systems in California and recommending administrative or legislative modifications to improve their operation. The Commission was established to conduct a continuing examination of the workers' compensation system and of the state's activities to prevent industrial injuries and occupational diseases and to examine those programs in other states.