FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, April 18, 2005
Division of Workers' Compensation releases first annual report
of progress on workers' comp reforms
SB 899 implementation on target and moving forward
SAN FRANCISCO - The California Division of Workers' Compensation (DWC) has released its first annual report of progress on implementation of Senate Bill (SB) 889, the law authorizing workers' compensation reform passed overwhelmingly by the Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Schwarzenegger on Apr. 19, 2004.
"The division has accomplished nearly insurmountable tasks this year -- and the hard work is paying off," said DWC Administrative Director Andrea Lynn Hoch. "If insurers pass recommended rate reductions through in full, by late 2005 employers will see a reduction estimated at over 26 percent from peak rates charged in 2003."
Under SB 899, the problems of escalating workers' comp costs are mitigated by providing prompt, effective medical treatment to injured workers so they recover from injuries and return to work, and by bringing objectivity and consistency to the disability rating system, which will provide more accurate ratings and lead to fewer disputes.
"The DWC team met all its statutory deadlines for implementing regulations under SB 899," said Hoch. "We've also approved nearly 500 medical provider networks to date, so the framework for effective medical treatment is in place."
Emergency regulations for the new permanent disability rating schedule (PDRS) became effective Jan. 1, 2005 and the division took comments on the permanent PDRS regulations, which are expected to become effective Apr. 30. The new PDRS provides objective and consistent methodology to determine disability ratings. SB 899's return to work provision supplies an incentive for employers to return injured workers to the job.
"Drafting these regulations is a vital part of implementing the reforms, because the regulations help users of the workers' compensation system understand how to apply the law," said Hoch.
In the first year of SB 899, the division has also focused on hiring new employees, providing internal and external training and on reaching out to employers and injured workers with updated materials and workshops.
To read or download "Workers' compensation reforms under SB 899: First
annual report of progress," visit the DWC Web site at http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/SB899/SB899Review2005.htm
Statement by Gov. Schwarzenegger on anniversary of workers' compensation reform