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Each year since I started the blog I’ve kicked the new year off with a quiz on the likely happenings in California workers’ comp.

Take this year’s quiz and see how good a prognosticator you are. Note that in some instances there may be more than one likely correct answer.

1. From a legislative standpoint, 2017 will be

a) a slow year, as the SB 863 reforms, regs, and 2016 legislation continue to sink in;

b) a major year, as some stakeholders push a wish list before the legislature gets into the 2018 election season;

c) a year where the main focus continues to be on tweaks to the system to stem provider fraud;

d) a year where bills vetoed in the past several years are resurrected in slightly different form;

e) a year where employers attempt to place limitations on cumulative trauma claims

2.  By the end of 2017, at the WCAB we will see

a) No new appointments, with the WCAB still having several vacancies including the chairperson slot;

b) The chairperson slot of the WCAB filled by promoting one of the current commissioners to that role;

c) Appointment of at least one new commissioner from the workers’ compensation bar;

d) Appointment of at least one new commissioner who is a former politician or Brown administration alum

3. When 2017 ends, the biggest controversies in the California system will include

a) The effects of a formulary that is put in place in mid 2017;

b) Continuing winnowing of QMEs as a large number are denied reappointment for various reasons;

c) Continuing rise in loss adjustment expenses in comparison to medical costs and indemnity paid;

d) Cumulative trauma claims experience in Southern California;

e) Proposals to create further exemptions from UR

4. The most prominent workers’ comp case in the courts during 2017 will be:

a) A ruling in the Christopher Rice case from the 3rd DCA pertaining to apportionment & genetic predisposition ;

b) A ruling by the 3rd DCA on the constitutionality of IMR in the Zuniga or Ramirez cases:

c) Disposition by the California Supreme Court in the King v. Comppartners case involving the issue of whether a UR physician has a duty to the worker and can be sued in tort for a breach ;

d) A ruling in the Hernandez case dealing with restitution in a case where the worker pled guilty to workers’ comp fraud;

f) A case involving panel QME replacement issues

5. In 2017 workers’ comp advisory rates and average charged rates paid by insured employers will:

a) Continue to drift somewhat lower;

b) Bottom out and drift somewhat higher;

c) Sharply increase;

d) Sharply decrease

6. The effect of the Trump Administration on California workers’ comp will be

a) none whatsoever

b) Potentially profound, as legislative and judicial struggles over a large amount of potential deportations, expansion of E-Verify, and increased workplace raids hangs over a significant slice of the California workforce;

c) Profound, as repeal of Obamacare and uncertainly over a replacement has repercussions for the filing and settlement of comp claims;

d) Beneficial as efforts to keep jobs in the USA, cut taxes and focus on infrastructure lead to a burgeoning economy with increased wage and premium growth;

e) Struggles between the Brown Administration and Trump lead to disputes about federal dollar allocations, exacerbating California’s finances and tangentially affecting the comp system;

f) Not large, as the feds allow California  to operate its own ACA exchanges and as California fights off immigration reform that affects other states

7. The effort to repeal and replace Obamacare affects California workers’ comp as follows;

a) Repeal leads to chaos in the health insurer market, causing rates to spike and insurers to drop out of exchanges, making workers less likely to settle medical awards;

b) Replacement for Obamacare includes language explicitly barring submission of work related treatments for payment to personal health policies or group health;

c) The effect is negligible;

d) California’s Medicaid funding is drastically cut, causing many to lose coverage that enabled them to address collateral, underlying health issues. Claims for compensable consequence treatment rise further in the workers’ comp system;

e) Doctors encourage more workers to file comp cases as treatment shifts away from Obamacare to the state’s workers’ comp system

8. Regarding the $120 million Return to Work Fund, by the end of 2017 we will see:

a) Significant increases in the number of workers accusing the fund;

b) Legislation proposed to raise the amount paid by the fund from the current $5k per worker

c) Studies on the operation of the fund, but no changes made

d) Decreasing numbers of workers accessing the fund

9. As 2017 ends it will be apparent that:

a) the stakeholder coalition that supported SB 863 remains as strong as ever as the Brown administration begins its last year;

b) the SB 863 stakeholder coalition shows signs of fraying as parties have different visions for the evolution of the system;

c) 2018 gubernatorial candidates have given little indication of their agenda for the workers’ comp system;

d) stakeholders will settle on their preferred gubernatorial candidates and be forging contacts for future administration of the system;

e) Workers’ comp will be a backwater issue low on the radar in light of other state and federal issues

10. As 2017 ends we will realize that:

a) there is increasing focus on the impact of workers’ comp on women and Hispanics;

b) union membership in California is starting to increase as anti-Trump efforts help organizing;

c) union membership seems likely to decline as union dues case heads to the U.S. Supreme Court;

d) the difference in stats on costs and claims between workers’ comp in the Los Angeles area and the rest of the state begins to moderate as a result of 2016 legislation;

e) LA area workers’ comp costs and claims numbers are increasingly out of step with the rest of the state causing major arguments about what is to be done

Send your picks to me at jyoung@boxerlaw.com

As a bonus, send me your pick for top likely development of the year which I’ve overlooked.

Julius Young

www.boxerlaw.com

 

Julius Young

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