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The California Department of Industrial Relations is providing limited details on the announced retirement of Christine Baker, the department’s longtime director who helped execute reforms to curb workers compensation fraud and rein in painkiller prescribing, among other measures.
According to Ms. Baker’s March 30 announcement, sent via email to colleagues and provided to Business Insurance on Tuesday, the department’s leader retired that day after 34 years of service.
“Since our major reforms to workers’ compensation in 2012, we have increased benefits and improved care to injured workers, including increased benefits for permanently disabled workers,” Ms. Baker wrote. “At the same time, these reforms prevented a rate spike for employers and instead led to rate reductions. With evidence-based medicine, the prescription drug formulary and new tools we have been using to combat fraud, we are improving the treatment of injured workers and suspending from the system those who had profited through fraud at the expense of both workers and employers.”
California Labor and Workforce Development Agency Secretary David Lanier praised Ms. Baker in a statement made the same day and provided to Business Insurance on Tuesday: “Through her thoughtful leadership, the department has worked with employees and employers to achieve what was once thought impossible — a workers compensation system that has increased benefits, improved medical care for injured workers and lowered rates for employers, a first in the nation heat standard for outdoor workplaces and the most protective regulation in the nation for the safety and health of refinery workers and surrounding communities.”
Labor and Workforce Development Agency Undersecretary André Schoorl will be serving as acting director for the department, Mr. Lanier wrote.
A department spokesperson said there are no other details available about Ms. Baker’s resignation.
BOSTON — Workers compensation reforms in California have been an ongoing process, but the efforts have created some positive changes in the state’s comp system, said Alex Swedlow, president of the California Workers' Compensation Institute.