California Universal Health Insurance Plan Criticized by Injured Worker Advocates

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Five to seven percent fee assessment on employers smacks of policy hypocrisy they claim.

A new plan by the California legislature to provide health care insurance to about 6.5 million uninsured workers by adding a new payroll assessment fee has been criticized as a "hoax and scam" by California activists for the injured.

"Did anyone hear someone say cost shifting? Here again another plan is proposed to provide health care to workers to compensate for the dismantling of the California workers' compensation system," said Larry Nign, an activist for injured workers.

According to Nign State Senate Leader Don Perata compared the new proposal to something akin to workers' compensation. The plan would call for the state to access fees from employers and employees enabling the state to purchase private insurance from large carriers.

"It is a recipe for fraud and corruption. For the last three years we have been hearing that California needs to reduce insurance costs to employers for work comp insurance. Now, the state seems to say that those savings should be gobbled up by yet another employer assessment, I don't think so," Nign continued.

"Frankly, I think the same problems injured workers have experienced with work comp like non-payment of claims will plague any such new system," cited Nurse Barbara Clark, who is suing the acting director of the California Department of Industrial Relations concerning the non-payment of her work comp claim. "Besides, such a system would raise the 'state actor' question for private insurers, just like work comp," she said, referring to a legal appeal pending in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (see 06-16333, Clark vs. Rea) which seeks to private claims adjustors as deputized representatives of the state.

"Sacramento is going to have to come up with more than just spin to pass this legislation. We vow to inform the public that this is just another form of gratuities and kick-backs to the insurance industry, which controls our state legislature," Nign said.

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