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California bill would allow social workers to treat injured workers


California lawmakers concluded the 2022 legislative session this week by passing bills that would allow social workers to be listed in medical provider networks and give some state firefighters full-pay salary continuation benefits in lieu of temporary disability.

The bills that passed Wednesday, the final day of the session, will join other measures lawmakers have recently sent Gov. Gavin Newsom that would maintain the COVID-19 presumption for another year, cut two weeks from the time employers have to determine liability on certain presumptive injury claims, study high heat effects on workers and cover more first responders with a presumption of compensability for post-traumatic stress disorder.

S.B. 1002 would allow employers to add licensed clinical social workers to their medical provider networks. Social workers would not be allowed to determine liability. The final bill also includes language that would expand the services of licensed clinical social workers to other treatments employers are required to provide. There is also a provision that would require a physician referral before a social worker could treat an injured worker.

According to a bill analysis, the Division of Workers’ Compensation anticipates the requirement to ensure social workers are available through a medical provider network could result in litigation.

A.B. 151 would authorize forestry firefighters to receive up to one year of salary continuation benefits in lieu of temporary disability calculated at two-thirds of the worker’s wages. If the injury is a severe burn as determined by the director of the Department of Forestry and Fire Protection, the worker would receive up to three years of salary continuation benefits.

Another bill, A.B. 2188, which passed Tuesday, would prohibit businesses from discriminating against workers based on a positive drug test for nonpsychoactive cannabis metabolites.

WorkCompCentral is a sister publication of Business Insurance. More stories here.