California Department of Industrial Relations Legislative Update
At the 2016 California Workers’ Compensation & Risk Conference, Christine Baker, Director of the California Department of Industrial Relations, and David Lanier, Secretary of the California Labor & Workforce Development Agency, provided an update on the department’s progress, challenges and future outlook.
According to David Lanier, California has come a long way in the past six years. In 2010, it was being compared to the failed state of Greece. Job loss was rampant and the workers’ compensation rate increases were being implemented for the first time in a long time. Outlook was bleak.
Fast forward six years to 2016 and California is now in a much better position. SB 863 has positively impacted the workers’ compensation system and has helped establish ongoing conversations on the state of the system. The Governor has been very proactive in doing what it takes to help reform the system and to keep ongoing implementation on track. In the spirit of SB 863, California now has better data and insight into the system where they can now see patterns and vulnerabilities to refine practices. As a result, the state is now having conversations around fraud where bad behavior is being identified and discontinued. Outlook is positive, with great confidence that the workers’ compensation system will be stable and poised for ongoing improvement for many years to come.
According to Christine Baker, California has improved the delivery of medical and indemnity benefits, all while decreasing costs. They have managed to increase delivery of care and decrease litigation rates. They are actively working to attack fraud within the system, even indicting doctors who were profiting from drug dispensing. Using data-matching techniques, they are also now able to match against billings to identify similar fraudulent patterns. They are also taking additional steps to reduce potentially-fraudulent lien filing.
In addition, they are conducting stakeholder meetings to determine how to use technology to file electronically and make the system more efficient. It is their goal to standardize the system to provide clarity and consistency across the state to, ultimately, provide a better standard of care for injured workers.