Keenan Briefings

Designed to provide information quickly and effectively about issues that matter to you.


California Legislative Summary: Workers’ Compensation 2022 Mid-Session

July 13, 2022

This has been an especially active year for workers’ compensation legislation in California. Efforts are underway in Sacramento to change the rules with regard to presumptions, fee schedules, and claims handling timeframes, and the potential of a major re-write of the SB 863 reforms still looms.

With the legislature in recess until August 1, now is a good time to review the bills under consideration. Once the legislature returns, the following deadlines will apply to the remainder of this legislative year.

  • August 12: Last day for fiscal committees to meet and report bills to the floor
  • August 25: Last day to amend bills on the floor
  • August 31: Last day for each house to pass bills
  • September 30: Last day for Governor to sign or veto bills passed by the Legislature before

September 1 and in the Governor’s possession after September 1

Below are the bills that we are tracking on behalf of our workers’ compensation clients.

AB 399 – Workers’ Compensation: The Medical Provider Network Transparency Act of 2022

This bill would limit the independent bill review fee for the independent bill review organization (IBRO) to determine the eligibility of a request to $50 and would authorize additional fees for a request that is reviewable. If the IBRO finds that an employer owes the medical provider, the IBRO would bill the employer for the additional review fees. If the employer does not owe the medical provider, the IBRO would bill the provider for fees. The employer would have to pay any additional amounts within 30-days of the final determination.

Status: Assembly Member Salas canceled the bill’s first hearing in the Senate on May 24, 2022, and this bill has not moved forward since. It is unlikely to become law this year.

AB 404 – Workers’ Compensation: Medical Legal Expenses: Fee Schedule

This bill would require that the medical-legal fee schedule be reviewed every 2 years and updated as necessary to increase the conversion factor by the percentage increase in the most recent federal Medicare Economic Index. Per the Senate Committee on Appropriates’ analysis, the bill would result in higher QME fees.

Status: This bill has been held in the Senate Appropriations Suspense File since 2021, and is unlikely to become law this year.

AB 551 – Disability Retirement: COVID-19 Presumption

Currently until January 1, 2023, disability retirement presumption that is applicable to various public employee retirement systems who are employed in certain firefighter, public safety officer, and health care job classifications, who retires on the basis in part or in whole of a COVID-19 related illness is presumed that the disability arose out of, or in the course of the members employment unless rebutted. This bill extends the provision until January 1, 2024.

Status: This bill is currently in the Senate and will be eligible for a floor vote when the Senate reconvenes in August.

AB 1465 – Workers’ Compensation: MPN Study

This bill requires the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation (CHSWC) to submit a study on or before January 1, 2023 on delays and access to care issues in Medical Provider Networks (MPNs) and compare specified data for injury claims where treatment was inside the MPN and outside of the MPN.

Status: The bill has been in the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement committee since 2021.

AB 1751 – Workers’ Compensation COVID-19: Critical Workers

Current law creates a disputable presumption that a COVID-19 injury to specified members of law enforcement or a specified first responder arose out of and in the course of employment. An injury is presumed compensable after 30 or 45 days instead of 90 days. This bill would extend the presumption relating to COVID-19 until January 1, 2025.

Status: The bill is currently set for hearing in the Senate Appropriations committee on August 1, 2022. A coalition of employer groups is seeking a one-year extension rather than a 2-year extension of the presumption..

AB 2148 – Workers’ Compensation: Disability Payments

This bill extends the authorization to deposit indemnity payments in a prepaid card account until January 1, 2024.

Status: On the Governor’s desk awaiting signature.

AB 2848 – Workers’ Compensation: Medical Treatment

This bill requires the AD to contract with an outside independent research organization to evaluate and report the impact of the provision of medical treatment within the first 30 days after a claim is filed, for claims filed between January 1, 2017 and January 1, 2021. The report is to be completed before July 1, 2023.

Status: This bill is set to be heard in the Senate Appropriations committee on August 1, 2022.

In March, the Assembly Insurance Committee report stated, “according the information provided by the author, this bill will likely be amended in the Senate to be a larger workers’ compensation reform package. The amended will have the goal of raising permanent disability benefits, minimizing delays associated with medical treatment requests, and reducing frictional costs with thein the workers’ compensation system.” We are watching the process very carefully and will report if there is a substantial amendment to this bill.

SB 213 – Workers’ Compensation: Hospital Employees

This bill extends rebuttable presumptions injuries for hospital employees who provide direct patient care in an acute care hospital. The proposed injuries include infectious diseases, cancer, musculoskeletal injuries, PTSD, and respiratory diseases, along with COVID-19. Creates presumption that these injuries arose out of and in the course of their employment and would include presumption post termination for a specified period of time.

Status: This bill was held in the Senate Appropriations committee and will not move forward this year.

SB 1002 – Workers’ Compensation: LCSW

This bill expands the meaning of medical treatment to include the services of Licensed Clinical Social Workers (LCSW) to treatment for mental health injuries. MPN’s would have to include LCSW’s in their networks. However, LCSW’s would be prohibited from determining disability.

Status: The bill is set to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations committee on August 3, 2022.

SB 1127 – Workers’ Compensation: Liability Presumption

This bill proposes to reduce the time period to accept or reject liability for certain injuries or illnesses sustained by a specified member of law enforcement or a specified first responder from 90 days to 75 days. It would also increase the number of compensable weeks of temporary disability to 240 weeks without any limitation as from the date of injury for specified firefighters and peace officers claiming injury to cancer. The bill would also require that if liability for an injury has been unreasonably rejected, a penalty of no more than $50,000 could be applied, in where the appeals board would determine the question of whether the rejection of liability is reasonable. It also requires on or before July 1, 2023, for the division to add to the data collected to include the date on which a claimant is notified of acceptance, denial or conditional denial.

Status: The bill is set to be heard in the Assembly Appropriations committee on August 3, 2022. The employer community remains opposed to this bill, which is likely to pass and be sent to the Governor for signature or veto.

SB 1458 – Workers’ Compensation: Disability Benefits: Gender Disparity

This bill would increase the payment of disability benefits by the percentage of disparity earnings between genders. According to the Senate committee on Labor, Public Employment and Retirements, there are a number of issues with this bill. This bill would only apply to a small number of female injured workers; in order for this bill to have an impact on the pay gap, it would also need to apply to independent workers who need not provide workers compensation coverage. There is also an issue of compliance as only large employers will have accurate gender pay gaps, while for smaller employers this may result in an overcorrection. Also, the bill does not take into consideration other pay arrangements such as mandatory overtime, alternative work schedules, etc.

Status: This bill has been held in the Senate Appropriations committee. It will not move forward this year.

AP Keenan is not a law firm and no opinion, suggestion, or recommendation of the firm or its employees shall constitute legal advice. Clients are advised to consult with their own attorney for a determination of their legal rights, responsibilities, and liabilities, including the interpretation of any statute or regulation, or its application to the clients’ business activities.