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Calif. comp reforms don't hinder care: Study


LOS ANGELES--Most California workers injured on the job receive quality medical attention, concludes the state's first comprehensive study of workers compensation health care since reforms took effect in 2004.

The workers comp reforms required the introduction of evidence-based medicine and treatment guidelines, but those measures have not reduced the quality of available care, according to the study that the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research conducted for the California Division of Workers' Compensation.

The study, based on a telephone survey of 1,001 employees and responses from 1,096 medical providers, along with 20 payers, found that 82% of injured workers reported having access to quality medical care for their injury. Injured African-American, Latino and Asian workers, however, are more likely than whites to report receiving quality care, researchers found.

Additionally, physicians reported perceived declines in care quality as a result of the reforms. But that finding is not surprising, noted Gerald F. Kominski, the study's lead author.

"Some doctors are understandably dissatisfied because these reforms placed limits for the first time on the volume and type of services that can be used to treat injured workers," Mr. Kominski said in a statement. "What's important is that these negative perceptions of doctors regarding access and quality do not reflect the actual experience of most injured workers."

The 216-page report is available at