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California Gov. Edmund G. Brown Jr. signed workers compensation reform legislation into law on Tuesday, saying the law will reverse a four-year trend of rate increases.
Signing S.B. 863 will “reduce costs to businesses and protect workers by cutting out hundreds of millions of dollars in waste from California's workers compensation system,” the governor said in a statement. The governor said it will reduce employers' workers comp costs by nearly $1 billion.
“These significant reforms save hundreds of millions of dollars for California's employers while preventing an imminent crisis of skyrocketing rates that would have hurt both injured workers and businesses,” the governor said in the statement. “It's extraordinary to see Republicans and Democrats come together to solve a problem before it becomes a crisis.”
Among other measures, the new law increases permanent disability benefits by 30%. Its provisions also will create an independent review process for medical treatment and billing disputes, fee schedules for home health care, language interpretation and other comp-related services, and fees for current and future lien filings.
A statement released by the governor contained praise from several employer groups. Jill A. Dulich, senior director of Marriott International Inc. claims services in Los Angeles, in the statement praised the governor's administration for its role in passage of the reforms.
“Marriott is very encouraged by the efforts of the administration to bring all parties to the table to realize meaningful workers' compensation reform this year,” she said in the statement. “S.B. 863 will bring more predictability and stability to the California workers compensation system in a time of economic challenge for all participants. We look forward to realizing the benefit to our injured associates and our company with the multifaceted improvements contained in the bill.”
The California State Compensation Insurance Fund says it plans to seek a 5% to 7% reduction in its workers compensation rates if California legislators pass a workers comp reform bill this week.