FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IR # 96-12
Friday, March 15, 1996

CONTACT:
Louis Bonsignore
(415) 972-8835
Richard Stephens
(415) 975-0721


Grant for Evaluation of California's 24-Hour Care Pilot Projects Approved

California's pilot 24-hour health care programs, which combine medical benefits for occupational and non-occupational injuries and illnesses, will be evaluated under a $459,000 grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

The grant will fund a three-year evaluation study of the 24-hour care demonstration projects currently administered by the California Department of Industrial Relations' Division of Workers' Compensation, and will be conducted by the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, in conjunction with the RAND Corporation and UC Berkeley.

In a joint announcement of the grant award, UCLA and the Department of Industrial Relations noted that this is the first evaluation grant in the country to be awarded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's Workers' Compensation Health Initiative.

"Evaluation of the 24-hour care pilot projects is an important element in the legislation authorizing the program, and we are pleased that the Foundation has approved this grant to UCLA to conduct this key study of innovative health care delivery in California," said Lloyd W. Aubry, Jr., director of the Department of Industrial Relations.

The UCLA Center for Health Policy Research will be assisted by researchers from RAND's Health Sciences Program, the Institute for Civil Justice, and the UC Berkeley Survey Research Center, said Gerald F. Kominski, Ph.D., associate professor at UCLA and the principal investigator on the study. RAND's Institute for Civil Justice will also provide additional support for the evaluation.

Legislation enacted as part of workers' compensation reform in 1992 and 1993 authorized the California pilot programs to be conducted in four counties, Aubry said. The Division of Workers' Compensation subsequently approved four pilots, which are being conducted in San Diego, Los Angeles, Sacramento and Santa Clara Counties, and are scheduled to be completed by December 31, 1997.

An interim progress report is due to the Legislature this summer, and a final report by year end, 1998. The cost of the reports are being subsidized by contributions from participating employers.

Under the 24-hour care approach, insurers provide employers an insurance option combining state required workers' compensation coverage and managed care group health into a single benefit that participating employers may offer employees on a voluntary basis. The major goals of this coverage are to increase continuity of care for workers' compensation claimants and to lower the overall costs of medical and injury claims.

According to Aubry and Kominski, this study will evaluate the impact of the pilot programs on the number and types of workers' compensation claims; claimant satisfaction and outcomes, including return to work; utilization of health care services; and overall costs of workers' compensation and group health premiums and claims. The evaluation will include an analysis of workers compensation claims, a survey of employers and a baseline survey to examine who does or does not enroll in 24-hour pilot programs.

Information gained from this evaluation will have nationwide importance in understanding the benefits of 24-hour coverage and the impact of managed care on the workers' compensation system. The study will likely be used as a model by other states to evaluate similar projects.

Kominski is principal investigator on the study. Joan Buchanan, Ph.D. from RAND will serve as co-principal investigator.

More information about the evaluation study may be obtained by contacting Dr. Kominski at UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, Box 951772, Los Angeles, CA 90095-1772; phone: (310) 206-5303, email: kominski@ucla.edu.

Information about the 24-hour care pilot projects may be obtained from Glenn Shor, Ph.D, Research and Evaluation Unit, Division of Workers' Compensation, P.O. Box 420603, San Francisco, CA 94142, phone (415) 975-0750, email: g.shor@dir.ca.gov.

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