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March 09, 2004 9:01 PM
California Advocates Call For Insurance Regulation

 Injured Workers & Advocates: Regulate Workers’ Comp Insurance, Protect Choice of Doctor, Right to 2nd Opinion 
Injured workers and their advocates called for regulation of workers’ compensation insurance rate, protecting injured workers’ rights to choose their own doctors, and the right to a 2nd medial opinion. The injured workers’ advocates gave their proposals for reforming California’s workers’ compensation insurance system, including prohibiting excessive insurance rates, and criticized Gov. Schwarzenegger’s proposal, saying it “would harm thousands of injured workers.” 

“Any changes to our workers’ compensation system must preserve the Constitutional right of injured workers to full medical treatment to be cured and relieved from on-the-job injuries,” said Art Azevedo, who represents injured workers, and is president of the California Applicant’s Attorneys Association (CAAA). “No matter how deeply we cut benefits and medical care for injured workers, there will be no definite employer savings unless the industry is regulated. There currently is no requirement that insurers pass on savings to employers.”

The advocate said that injured workers would be worse off under the governor’s proposals. Azevedo added, “The Governor wrongly blames injured workers and would allow carriers to reap excessive profits. His proposals would take away from injured workers their right to choose their doctor and put them at the mercy of company doctors, deny injured workers a second medical opinion, put the power over their lives and health in the hands of doctors who would never see them, and reduce permanent partial disability benefits.”

The injured workers’ advocates gave their five point agenda for change:

Injured workers’ advocates agenda for change 
1. Preserve the right of injured workers to full medical treatment 
2. Fund the Division of Workers Compensation 
3. Regulate workers’ compensation insurers 
4. Increase penalties on employers and insurance carriers who refuse or unreasonably delay payment of injured workers’ benefits. 
5. Combat fraud

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