Sunday, December 21, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Dubious tradition holds in Calif. compensation process

walters column sig

By
From page A13 | December 19, 2012 |

California Gov. Jerry Brown and legislative leaders tout an overhaul of the multibillion-dollar system of compensating disabled workers for job-related illnesses and injuries as a major accomplishment this year.

Actually, negotiators for employers and labor unions hammered out changes in workers’ compensation during months of private negotiations and handed them to the Legislature, thus continuing a time-honored – or, some say, dishonored – tradition of altering rules of the compensation system once a decade.

It also continued a tradition of changes occurring when some players in the game join forces to stick it to other players. In this case, employers and unions agreed to raise benefits by close to a billion dollars a year and pay for them by squeezing medical care providers and workers’ comp attorneys, while easing rapidly rising employer-paid insurance premiums and, presumably, providing enough liquidity to return insurers to profitability.

On paper, that’s what would happen with full implementation, but whether the presumed effects become real depends largely on regulations now being written – some as emergency rules not subject to hearing – by the Brown administration.

Eight years ago, when the last big changes were made, critics accused then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration of writing harsh rules that deprived workers of legitimate treatment and benefits.

The backlash-fueled drum beating culminated in this year’s overhaul, so contending parties are watching the current rule-making very closely. It’s likely, too, that groups opposed to the 2012 legislation will try to modify it in the Legislature, and perhaps challenge portions in court.

Meanwhile, Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones wants insurers – who have complained about losses from rising medical costs – to get another boost in employer-paid premiums, raising the specter of insurer insolvencies and questioning whether this year’s changes would result in enough savings to offset their losses.

The Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau confirmed last week that insurers, who compete fiercely for business, continue to pay out much more in claims and expenses than they receive from employers, even though premiums have risen 22 percent in the past three years, and more increases are in the pipeline.

It’s all part of a familiar drill after the Legislature makes major systemic changes. It takes several years for new rules to be drafted and take effect and for real-world impacts – which are often different from those assumed in the legislation – to reveal themselves. Pressure then begins to build for another overhaul.

That should happen around 2020 and will be a problem for the next governor and a Legislature without members who voted on the 2012 version.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him at dwalters@sacbee.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

The Salvation Army serves 1,000-plus across 2 days

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A1, 7 Comments | Gallery

 
Blue Christmas service offers reflection, hope

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A1

Shining bright for all to see: Locals deck out yards, homes

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: C1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Time for annual Solano County quiz

By Brad Stanhope | From Page: A2

Bevy of holiday activities at Western Railway Museum

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
State Fair scholarship applications available

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Get tested, know your status

By Morgan Westfall | From Page: C4

 
Free New Year’s celebration slated

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

 
 
New development fees start Jan. 1 in Vacaville

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5

A word of warning for Senator Warren

By Bud Stevenson | From Page: B7, 11 Comments

 
New technology chief will join McNaughton Newspapers

By Tanya Perez | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Fairfield police log: Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Suisun City police log: Dec. 19, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Sky-high price has VA rationing hep C drug

By Tom Philpott | From Page: B10

.

US / World

Air Force admits nuke flaws, but will fixes work?

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
 
Officials: Missing dog was dyed to deceive

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Immigrants build document trails to remain in US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
California officer kills teen after machete attack

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 2 Comments

Design of Golden Gate Bridge suicide barrier OK’d

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5, 1 Comment

 
2 dozen injured in southern Indiana bus crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
4 teens die in fiery head-on crash in Pennsylvania

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Texas ranchers seeking alternative incomes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
North Korea proposes joint probe over Sony hacking

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

2 car bombs rock southern Sweden’s city of Malmo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Bombings kill 12 in Iraq

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10, 1 Comment

US sends 4 Afghans back home from Guantanamo

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
Panama’s Noriega in prison 25 years post-invasion

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Burying the dead after Pakistan’s school massacre

By The Associated Press | From Page: A11

 
A chance to breach divide for young in Cuba and US

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Editorial Cartoon: Dec. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
Season’s greetings from the Obamas

By Alexandra Petri | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

New school finance strategy lacks accountability

By Dan Walters | From Page: A8

 
Sound off for Dec. 21, 2014

By Daily Republic | From Page: A8

 
.

Living

Today in History: Dec. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2, 4 Comments

 
Community Calendar: Dec. 21, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Vatican offers olive branch to US nuns

By The Associated Press | From Page: C3, 1 Comment

 
Why celebrate Christmas?

By Noel Reese | From Page: C3, 2 Comments

Horoscopes: Dec. 21, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: C4

 
Should I ask grandson why we weren’t included in wedding photos?

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: C4

.

Entertainment

Review: ‘Five’ by Ursula Archer is intriguing

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
PUBLISHERS WEEKLY BEST-SELLERS

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Publisher hopes to sell books through Twitter

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
Chris Colfer has multi-book deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

Jerry Lee Lewis: Sustained by brief blaze of glory

By The Associated Press | From Page: C6

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B11

.

Sports

New Giants 3B McGehee eager to play back home

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
Interim coaching jobs present challenges in bowls

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

49ers squander 21-point lead in 4th straight loss

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
No. 11 Lady Vols trounce No. 7 Stanford 59-40

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Eagles near elimination, fall 27-24 to Redskins

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Raiders place cornerback Brown on injured reserve

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Big moves bring big hope for Chicago baseball

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
US skier Nyman wins Gardena downhill for 3rd time

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

Vonn wins women’s World Cup downhill in France

By The Associated Press | From Page: B4

 
This date in sports history for Sunday, Dec. 21, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
.

Business

 
Your info has been hacked. Now what do you do?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

On the money: 4 ways to hold on to your cash when renting a car

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
Recalls this week: Bean bag chairs, toy monkeys

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Scarecrows outnumber people in dying Japan town

By The Associated Press | From Page: B12

.

Obituaries

Dominic C. Scolaro

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Barbara Jean Bidstrup Braker

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Perry Michael Smetts

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Luzdivina B. Banks

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

Arnold Howard Evans

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Anthony Hanson Elder

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

.

Comics