Doctors Leaving California Workers’ Compensation System by the Dozens as Crisis Widens, Testimony Reveals Before California Senate Committee

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Soaring insurance company profits have “besmirched” California injured workers.

Testimony before a California State Senate committee on Wednesday confirmed what hundreds of injured workers have seemingly known for years, the state’s workers’ compensation system is broken, despite the self-aggrandizing of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger who claims to have fixed it.

Amid a standing room only crowd, state Senator Richard Alarcon, Chairman of the Committee on Labor and Industrial Relations, heard testimony of several physicians about the growing crisis.

Barbara Clark, R.N., one of a dozen witnesses before the committee, explains, “the medical community has followed the Governor over Niagara Falls, doctor’s are simply dropping out of the system because the delays in reimbursements for treatments under the new SB 899 rules are now several months. Patient loads have doubled while treatment authorizations take months, if not years.”

Acting director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation, Carrie Nevans, had trouble defending SB 899 implementation before Senator Alarcon. SB 899, the often-lauded accomplishment of the Schwarzenegger administration is now under severe scrutiny for the human suffering it has spawned. Senator Alarcon did not appear pleased with the explanations of Nevans. SB 899 became effective in 2004.

“The Governor’s chest pounding should be confined to the health club and not to serious health issues like these. SB 899, as confirmed by these hearings, has been a dismal failure for the injured workers who relied on the system to their detriment,” reported Clark.

“We are in a full scale public health crisis in California. However, no one in the Schwarzenegger administration seems to care because insurance company profits are soaring. How convenient that many of these firms are the Governor’s biggest campaign contributors,” Clark said.

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Christine M. Pietz
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