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California governor signs workers comp drug change, vetoes other comp bills

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SACRAMENTO, Calif.—California Gov. Jerry Brown on Friday signed a measure that will bring compound drugs under the state pharmacy fee schedule for workers compensation claims.

The bill, Assembly Bill 378, authored by Assembly Insurance Committee Chairman Jose Solorio, D-Santa Ana, was supported by employers, insurers and labor unions, according to the Assn. of California Insurance Cos.

Supporters of the law said it will eliminate financial incentives for unnecessary medications created just to avoid pharmacy fee schedules.

Other actions taken

The governor also vetoed several bills including:

c Assembly Bill 584, by Assemblyman Paul Fong, D-Mountain View, which would have required physicians conducting utilization review to be licensed in California. The governor said in a veto message he was not convinced such a mandate made sense.

c Assembly Bill 211 by Assemblyman Gil Cedillo, D-Los Angeles, which attempted to improve injured worker benefits by providing vouchers for work training after permanently disabling injuries. The governor said he was reluctant to enact piecemeal changes in the absence of comprehensive reforms addressing costs and benefits.

c Assembly Bill 947, by Assemblyman Solorio, which would have extended temporary disability payments up to 240 weeks where surgery or recovery from surgery occurs after a 104-week cap. The governor said workers comp reforms need to ensure that workers’ benefit needs are met while also making sure system costs are sustainable.

c Assembly Bill 1155, by Assemblyman Luis Alejo, D-Salinas, which would prohibit apportionment based on race, gender and age. The governor said courts already have found basing awards on those characteristics violates anti-discrimination policies.

“With a few strokes of his pen, Gov. Jerry Brown has made clear decisions about the need to save costs in California’s workers compensation system and avoid new mandates or requirements that will increase costs and make the system less predictable and stable,” ACIC said in a statement.