(c) 2022 Jon L Gelman, All Rights Reserved.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Too Big To Pay For: Workers' Compensation's Struggle To Cover Medical Care

Today's post was shared by WorkCompCentral and comes from It highlights the growing concerns about infectious disease and burden it adds to an incredibly bogged down workers' compensation program. Ironically a recent report today in the NEJM (advanced publication) concerning a potential, but very expensive cure for Hep C (Therapy for Hepatitis C — The Costs of Success, Jay H. Hoofnagle, M.D., and Averell H. Sherker, M.D., April 12, 2014DOI: 10.1056/NEJMe1401508), mirrors this issue on an ever increasing trend. The question continues to arise as to whether the delivery of medical care is just too big and complicated of an issue for the aged workers' compensation system to handle any longer. JL Gelman

Political machinations create the complexity we know as workers' compensation law.

California is the prime example, with several bills moving around the legislature that bestow special treatment to certain classes of workers.

One bill, Assembly Bill 1035 by House Speaker John A. PĂ©rez, D-Los Angeles, would allow dependents to file claims for deaths caused by cancer, tuberculosis, methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus infections and other bloodborne infectious diseases up to 420 weeks from the date the disease is diagnosed.

Similar bills in the past had made it through the legislature but Gov. Jerry Brown had vetoed them ostensibly because he was waiting for reports from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health and the California Commission on Health Safety and Workers' Compensation.

AB 1373, which passed in 2013 and AB 2451, which passed in 2012 differed in that both extended the limitations period to 480 weeks.

And the new bill includes a sunset provision that would allow the governor and Legislature to revisit the appropriateness of the new time frame in five years.

Supporters say AB 1035 is necessary because with advances in medical science, safety officers who develop cancer and other diseases through their employment are living longer.

The emotional appeal is that these brave public servants fight for their lives, only to succumb to the disease after the death benefits limitation period expires so dependents can not collect the benefits.

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