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Publius - Point of Order

What is Point of Order:
The Publius discusses California’s multibillion-dollar workers’ compensation system. These essays represent a collaborative effort by those intimately familiar with our workers’ compensation system in all its various aspects. They will appear periodically as events warrant, but for the time being in each print edition. These essays are intended to stimulate thought and debate in a way that well-crafted sound bites before legislative committees, regulatory hearings, or journalists under deadline cannot do.

The Workers’ Comp Executive is proud to host this effort. 
Point of Order Articles:

CXV: Reclaiming The Golden State: Improving California’s Business Climate

WCE Intern Courtney Judd takes a look at California’s business environment in this editorial.

CXIV: SCIF: Enterprise, Government, or Unfair Competitor?

Publius, the Producer weighs in with some heavy words about State Funds act. Are they unfair, practicing crony capitalism or just the government at work? Is there unfair competition? And will they become relevant in the marketplace again? Click here to see what one anonymous producers lays out.

CXIII ON FIGs: ‘Fine Insurance Guys’

Our insurance carriers are dead from suicide and it hasn’t occurred to them yet. Producers and consumers are next.

CXII From The Inside

An expert dissects the latest self-insured group regulations. Will the regulations prevent California going the way of New York trusts? Click here to find out.

CXI Legacy

Publius returns with characteristic frankness. This clear content will set the record straight about who really counts in SacTown. And why workers’ comp premiums will rise.

CX. A Dustup to the East

Publius takes on the issues in California by demonstrating what’s happening in neighboring states. This clear content is insightful and has a few lessons for us all. Just click here.

CIX. Check, Please

Is California’s workers’ comp pricing structure adequate? Publius breaks it down and brings you the answer

CVIII Rearranging the Boxes

In familiar fashion, the prescient Publius offers ideas and solutions for analyzing California’s workers’ comp system. This clear content is offered free to all. Just click here.

CVII Not a Creature Was Stirring

In his own entertaining fashion, Publius lays it out, but it doesn’t seem to just lie there. This clear content editorial is worth the read. Just click here …

CVI The Fall of Saigon – This Time in Oakland

A deal was made that cost employers a lot of money, and for once it happened quickly and without hearings. Find out in this editorial expose who did what for whom. Just click here.

CV That Time of Year

Publius sends up the quadrennial rebirth of the not-so-rare California Regulator. It’s an interesting perspective and one well worth the read. Clear content, so click here to read it.

CIV Lien on Me

Publius has solved the lien problem and this is clear content that everyone should read. Just click here…

CIII Change We Can Believe In

Publius makes a case for removing CHSWC from the Department of Industrial Relations. It is a matter of having a conflict-free and proper policy progenitor. This content is clear and is sure to begin a discussion. Just click here.

CII Cash for Clunkers

The Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation has served up another heaping helping of data to detail the failings of the workers' comp system. Are more research reports the answer to all our troubles? Probably not and Publius offers up a more simple solution.

CI Another Round in the Messenger, Please

All of those initials we read so much about stand for different aspects of workers’ comp regulators and regulation. Each seems to have a different viewpoint or vantage point or perspective or plan or whatever. It’s more than you think and you can read Publius’ perspective on the situation right here. It’s clear content and every thinking member of the community ought to be reading this one…

C. Rome Is Burning

Publius lays out -- perhaps filets is a better word -- political machinations in the workers’ comp system and how they affect employers and costs. The elected play the violin while the system burns. This is clear content and a must-read. Just ….

XCIX The Devil We Know

The Workers' Compensation Appeals Board revised its opinion in Almaraz/Guzman and reaffirmed Ogilvie. Was it enough to change the opinion of Publius? Click here to find out.

XCVIII The Phony War

Publius takes on the unintended consequences of the Almaraz, Guzman and Ogilvie decisions. The unintended consequences are huge and were just figured out. Reading this will help to explain higher costs and higher reserves. Just click here 

XCVII Know Thy Enemy

Are SCIF’s enemies those who work under the Capitol dome in Sacramento or those who work on Market Street? It’s clear and you can read it right here.

XCVI I Am the Law

Publius suggest that DWC lawyers pay more attention to the law, and less to something else. In this subtle but insightful editorial, Publius lays it on the line. There is something here for all sides. Click Publius to get the whole idea. 

XCV SCIF Adrift

Selling part of State Fund was mentioned in the governor’s May budget revision. It was a surprise to SCIF management.

XCIII Publius: A Good Day for an Inquisition

Publius has gone all out in defense of the industry, with downright clarity, and he has been quite pointed in his comments about the insurance commissioner’s role in upcoming rate hearings. This clear content must be read to be believed—and believe you will! Just click here.

XCII Bad News Travels Faster

If the truth were to out, Publius would out it. And truth is not something that either the governor or the insurance commissioner will like. Click here to read Publius’ clear, logical position on the pure premium rate recommendation.

XCI When Rules Need to Change

Making some points for the benefit of keeping lawyers out of the system, Publius provides some clear examples of how SB 145 is going to screw up rather than repair the system. What does “arises out of the course of employment” really mean, anyway, and how bad can it get? This commentary is entertaining, important, and you can read it by clicking here.

XC. All’s Fair

It is a rare day when Publius’ analysis of the situation is off the mark. Today is not that day. Continuing to provide a credible analysis of problems with the Almaraz case, Publius helps us understand why workers’ comp reform has become deform.

LXXXIX Zeroing Out

After the unanimous WCAB decisions, we have a happy applicant bar, and employers will begin to see rates rise hugely. Workers’ comp reform has struck again. Read the reasons and learn what you should be telling insureds. Click here.

LXXXVIII The Twilight Zone

In this clear and biting editorial, Publius lays out how WCAB has for all practical purposes destroyed a mainstay of workers’ comp reform. Read it and enjoy the prose; it’s important to understand the meaning. This is clear content provided in the public interest. Just click here.

LXXXVII Wall Street on the Delta

Wall Street and the Fed are not government agencies unaccountable to the world for their spending. Publius takes on just about every worker’s comp organization there is. This is clear content. Read every meaningfully snarky word right here.

LXXXVI A Modest Proposal

Publius shows us how injured workers are hurt further by delays in the system. Imagine if you had to wait 60 days to see a doctor and then longer to get an evaluation because the parties couldn’t agree on treatment. Publius proposes one objective solution. Anyone can read about it by clicking here …

LXXXV Passing the Baton

Publius has been a regular venue for some of the top minds in the industry to comment freely on the successes and failures of our workers' comp reforms. Find out how you can add your voice to the mix inside.

LXXXIV It Takes an Intersection

In its usual insightful fashion, Publius explains Main Street, Wall Street and workers’ comp. Look out, world, Chicken Little might have survived. To read this clear-content commentary, click right here.

LXXXIII Year-End Sale

Showing insightful depth and being willing to write between the lines and damn who’s to blame: Publius takes on – well, pretty much everyone who’s anyone. Click here to find out if we’ll have any readers left after today – oh yeah, and also to find out who’s naughty and who’s nice. Pay attention.

LXXXII They’ve Detached the Rudder Cable

Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata made sure the appointment of Carrie Nevans failed. He failed to consider the ramifications. Here might be some of them. Read about the political reality game being played out at the expense of injured workers. This is clear content and anyone can [a]click here[/a].

LXXXI Shot in the Foot

What information can be gleaned from the standoff over Carrie Nevans’ confirmation as administrative director of the Division of Workers’ Compensation? Publius says it runs much deeper than just a tit-for-tat between Perata and the administration. Premium subscribers can find out more inside.

LXXX When All Else Fails

In this biting commentary the writers that make Publius great tear into the current workers’ comp ratemaking process, and make an argument for keeping SCIF’s poor expense results in the system. This one is sure to create controversy. All viewers can read this piece by <a href='http://www.wcexec.com/articles/WCE04-20080923-000.htm.aspx'>clicking here</a>.

LXXIX You Are...

Is utilization review an intrusion into the sanctity of the physician/patient relationship, an effective tool to prevent unnecessary care or a little bit of both? Publius has a plan for making the process more effective but will the stakeholders in the system buy in?

LXXVIII Another Inconvenient Truth

Publius outlines how we got where we are, and how carriers can get where they're going. Well, they'll get somewhere, find out their choices and what Publius thinks they have to do to get a rate increase out of the Department. Click here...

LXXVII And The Gold Medal Goes To...

Not making the main point until the fifth and last paragraph, Publius asks state Senate President Pro Tem Don Perata if he is paying attention to labor and applicant attorneys or to reality. But getting there is an adventure in arts and letters, and perhaps just a little bit federalism reincarnate. This is clear content, so click here to read it right now. Enjoy.

LXXVI Watchdog. Here, Watchdog. Oh, Watchdog?

It must be getting awfully cold in Purgatory these days as Publius compares former Insurance Commissioner John Garamendi's handling of the issues at State Fund to current Commissioner Steve Poizner's. Garamendi is getting a far better review. All subscribers can click here to read this important commentary.

LXXV Work in Progress: SB 1145

SB 1145 by Senator Mike Machado and State Fund Board chair Jeannie Cain, who is also executive vice president of the California Chamber of Commerce, does a lot of things. One of the things it does not do is hold State Fund to reasonable standards of transparency and accountability. SB 1145 was the subject of the now famous "Dancing Jeannie" parody which showed our version of the tap dance Cain did with the Senator to pull this together and trick the legislature (see it in the story about on the WCE home page). But anyone can read Publius' rational account of the bill by clicking here.

LXXIV Oyez! Oyez! Oyez!

Chiropractic treatments and permanent disability rating schedules were recently the subject of important judicial decisions. Publius' take on the decisions will shed light on your understanding of the workers' comp system. It also just might influence future outcomes. This commentary is provided as clear content so the community can consider the issues.

LXXIII P-K4 P-K4

Publius explains from a unique insider viewpoint what's really going on inside the Legislature, and the outcome of the PD fight in the larger world. Imagine a world of legacy issues beyond workers' comp. Publius explains it all in this commentary available to all—just click here.

LXXII Self-Insured Groups A L'orange

In his own inimitable fashion, Publius takes on the secrecy in Department of Industrial Relations group insurance plans. Though each member is responsible for the losses of every other member, do they know how well the group is doing? Will the sun shine in? Should the sun shine in? Find out by clicking here.

LXXI CPR For CPR

Publius sends the governor a message about government. And somehow he works workers' comp into the mix as an example. Reform is only reform when it reforms. Confused? This commentary is provided to all who can think. Click here to read now.

LXX ULAE, ILAE, We All LAE

Publius, written by a consortium of industry people, has chosen to take issue with the insurance commissioner. Pretty interesting this time. Click right here right now to read this free content.

LXIX Beware Of Attorneys Bearing Gifts

California Applicant Attorneys are readying a proposal to get tough on workers' comp fraud. If this makes your eyebrows rise just wait till you read what they're thinking. Click here to find out ....

LXVIII Confirm Or Deny

Carrie Nevans, acting Administrative Director of the Division of Workers' Compensation, is up for confirmation. Publius discusses that confirmation and her tenure so far. Find out if we're for it or ag'in it by clicking right here.

LXVII 10Q Or Not 10Q?

There is no one like Publius for getting to the heart of SCIF's troubles. In this insightful piece, Publius offers ideas about what ought to be. This is clear content, so click here to read and enjoy every word.

LXVI Spreading The-Risk

Will the owners of the workers' comp system please stand up and be counted as being for the small employer. Don't know who owns the system? Publius explains. And it's an indictment of sorts of the big guys versus the little guys. An insightful and thought-provoking piece by Publius offers ideas for public discourse. It is original and clear content, so click here to read it.

LXV Right On Schedule?

Will the Administrative Director or the Legislature or anyone address permanent-disability issues in a timely manner or, for that matter, at all? Rates will increase, and at least for now, flying under the public radar seems to be the thing to do. Click here to find out who, what, where, when and why.

LXIV Back To Work

Permanent disability once again will be front and center in the 2008 California legislative debate over workers' comp. The question that has lingered since the effects of the new permanent disability rating schedule became manifest is, if indeed the employer community is interested in addressing PD at all before it is compelled to, what would balance the hundreds of millions of new dollars in benefits a PD increase would generate?

LXIII To PD Or Not PD

The level of permanent disability (PD) benefits is once again the talk of Sacramento. Though benefits significantly increased in 2002 with the passage of AB 749 (Calderon), the permanent disability rating system was at the core of the business community's frustration with workers' compensation.

LXII Welcome To The Jungle

On the eve of her taking the helm of State Compensation Insurance Fund, our best wishes go to Janet Frank, former CNA executive tapped by the State Fund board earlier this year to be president. This is a unique time at State Fund, where controversy and opportunity are equally great. There is a hue and cry for a more professional board and more transparency in State Fund's operations – a call for reform similar to what ultimately led to Sarbanes-Oxley and the empowerment of shareholders, especially large institutional shareholders, in publicly traded corporations.

LXI The Strange Case Of State Fund And...

While Rome burned, the fiddle was played. Find out who's fiddling now, where, and why State Fund is what it is and isn't likely to change. This FREE commentary by Publius puts the hammer right where it should be, sometimes with a subtle tap and other times, well, read it you'll see it too: Click right here.

LX Check, Please

Publius reveals specific steps public officials can take immediately to help prevent the 10 to 23% of California payroll involved in premium fraud. Find out the numbers, who the bad guys are.

LIX Am I Blue?

In classic style, Publius exposes (in read-between-the-lines commentary) the dirty little secret in the governor's health insurance reform package. Workers' Comp Executive makes Publius' commentary available to everyone. Just click here.

LVIII If I Had A Hammer

Publius goes out on a limb this time and makes utilization review come alive with choice lines such as presumption of incorrectness. Publius' cynicism on this issue reaches new levels. This clear commentary is available to all for free by clicking here. Enjoy.

LVII To PD Or Not To PD

The irony of addressing or not addressing workers' comp permanent disability in this session of the California legislature is that business and labor seem to be dining at the same table, with legitimately injured workers picking up the tab. This insightful commentary by Publius is available to everyone by clicking here.

LVI The "A" Team

Publius comments on the two newest appointments to California's Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation. Let us know what you think. This content is available free to all readers who click here.

LV Outraged

If déà vu were an occupational disease, most of us would be on workers' compensation. Permanent disability, the labor unions and rational thinking from Publius. That's what you'll get when reading this free article, which you can do right now by clicking here.

LIV Keep It Simple, S-----

That strange odor you may smell from the general direction of Sacramento is a deal cooking on increasing permanent disability benefits. Consistent with the way workers' compensation issues have been addressed in this decade so far, data are in the driver's seat, with employers and labor trying to figure out what's coming up on the road ahead.

LIII Slight Chance Of Showers

The state of the workers' compensation insurance marketplace is of little, if any, concern of late to the legislature or the governor. Premium reductions have been substantial, and loss ratios continue to be misrepresented by labor and applicant attorney advocates in an effort to show that only insurance companies have profited from SB 899 reforms.

LII To PD Or Not PD, That Is The Question

Publius takes on Permanent Disability and gives kudos to at least one important player. This clear content commentary is available by clicking here.

LI I Am The Law

In his characteristic fashion Publius takes on California's potential for health care reform. What are the so-called experts telling those creating a new system and what are the chances they're actually correct. Premium Subscribers can read this insightful lessons-learned-the-hard way by clicking here. Others can see it in the print edition of the Workers' Comp Executive.

L Regulating The Center: Advice For Commissioner Poizner

It's not so subtle this time. Click here to read what Publius thinks the new California insurance commissioner should hear.

XLIX You're Fired!

Has Publius gone soft or become some kind of liberal? Find out why we'd say such a thing as Publius, in his customary form, deals with back-to-work issues. Read it here for free.

XLVIII Forward-Looking Statement

Publius sets forth principles for measuring the governance of State Compensation Insurance Fund. Publius is done with the usual wit and style. Read it now by clicking here...

XLVII 'Tis The Season

Publius takes on the appointment process for CHSWC and offers hope for a brighter future. Then again .... This is California workers' comp. Read this insightful commentary by clicking here ...

XLVI Party Like It's 1994

Governor Schwarzenegger has announced, with the usual great fanfare, that he is going to reform California's health care system in 2007. He has assembled a blue ribbon team of experts within the administration and has started the dialogue among the many affected interest groups necessary to address such a monumental task. Within this cadre of health care policy gurus are veterans of the "managed care wars" of the late 1990s that resulted in sweeping reforms that are still in operation today. It also has caused the revival of that time honored, oft-studied and never implemented concept – 24 hour coverage.

XLV Payback Time

Nov. 7 is Election Day. Most of you are resting comfortably, assured that Gov. Schwarzenegger will be reelected and that the reforms of SB 899 (Poochigian) will be preserved for at least another five years. As you decide how and when to vote, take note of a little-publicized initiative, one sounding of good government and yet one that holds the key to the complete, irreversible, total loss of political power of the business community and the potential to completely undo all the reform we've worked so hard to put in place.

XLIV Another Closing Of Another Show

Publius wraps up this legislative session in a fine fit of cynical speech befitting the original. Workers' comp, past and present, are defined and filleted as only Publius can. Read this commentary on the state of the—well, you'll see.

XLIII The Patient Is Still Sick

It really shouldn't be that difficult, should it? After all, over the past three years, the governor and the legislature have made a strong commitment to the concept of "evidence-based medicine," even as the Division of Workers' Compensation and the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation digest the various professional guidelines to be included in the medical treatment utilization schedule. Treatment approvals consistent with the injured worker's diagnosis should be almost, if not fully, automatic, right?

XLII Sacking Sacramento

Publius lays it out and it turns out to be a filet of the last days of the California legislative session. For those who can read between the lines the story is one of .... Well see for yourself. Workers' Comp Executive has made it free content - all you have to do is click here.

XLI The Long, Hot Summer

The California Applicants' Attorneys Association keeps finding new ways to go from the proverbial frying pan and into the fire. But are CAAA's missteps or those of its individual members any different from say those that represent industry special interests? Publius gives you his perspective on the now infamous Stern email flap. Click here to read this free article.

XL Too Many Bad Facts

State Fund has choosen a spate of legal cases with bad underlying facts to take up the legal process. Losing these cases hurts the governor's workers' comp reforms. Could this be a case of SCIF management subtly undermining the governor and being in "cahootage" with the unions? Click here to read Publius' take on the situation. Free Story.

XXXIX Game Day Decisions

Publius brings reality to the face of what happened in the Senate and Assembly primaries. Read in this insightful piece how the applicants' attorneys fared and what it means for the future of California workers' comp. Click here to read this free article.

XXXVIII Out of Adjustment

If "follow the money" and "money is the mother's milk of politics" mean anything to you, then Publius outdoes himself in this, his 39th column, entitled :Out of Adjustment." It's about the source of some of the current workers' comp bills and a Republican's misunderstanding of Adam Smith. Think your way through this thoughtful and entertaining column by clicking here.

XXXVII Under The Bus

Last week was a time of celebration. It was, after all, the second anniversary of SB 899 becoming law. The Governor's Office appropriately feted the event, with a variety of employers, public and private, acknowledging that reductions in costs have allowed business expansion, businesses remaining here in California, and, in the case of local governments, freeing up much-needed resources for schools, law enforcement and basic essential services. The obligatory wailing from injured-worker advocates, who insist that nothing that has happened over the past three years in terms of reform is any good, stayed true to their message, including the "ludicrous" profits of insurance companies.

XXXVI The Slippery Slope

Imagine that in a criminal trial a defendant was found not guilty, but the judge sentenced him to jail anyway. That very same formula is applied to injured workers who do get a zero disability rating and are given permanent disability anyway. Find out exactly how this can happen, in Publius XXXVI – The Slippery Slope. Click here to read it free from Workers' Comp Executive

XXXV Exit Stage Left

Publius sheds a little light on the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers' Compensation. The only reasonable out, says Publius, is... Well, you can read the whole thing for free by clicking here.

XXXIV There Is More Truth in Data Than Data in Truth

Picture the California Bureau's staff wandering through California workers' comp like Dorothy and her friends through Oz. Those who are laughing about it now can decide who resembles whom, although State Fund is the likely candidate for the Scarecrow looking for its brain. It's all about accountability. Should the Bureau be taken into the Department of Insurance as it is in other states? Click here to read the insider's view of the Bureau and its tenuous relationship with the legislature.

XXXIII Study This

Publius takes on the Bickmore Report and uses a rifle rather than a shotgun. Who is responsible for the regulation of State Fund and why are they in hiding?

XXXII Pest Control

Cockroaches run wild in the legislature. Publius' perspective enlightens with facts—and names names. It also appears that we know who's behind initiatives that may bring down the entire system. Read it for FREE by clicking here.

XXXI Seizing the Initiative

Who's behind the Worker Empowerment Act? The initiative process that worked so well for Arnold in the beginning has now faltered, and Publius is rounding up the usual suspects to determine who's behind this latest workers' comp monkey wrench. Find out what this initiative is trying to achieve and, if at the end of the day, it has any legs.

XXX Rubber Hits the Road

The appointment of Susan Kennedy as Governor Schwarzenegger's chief of staff generates howls from the far end of the spectrum of both sides. Is this a move on the part of the governor to pander to the left to accomplish in 2006 what he couldn't in 2005? Or, is this a brilliant move to placate the governor's foes while resolving important infrastructure and policy issues including workers' comp. Click here to read Publius' take on the latest developments in the current edition of Workers' Comp Executive.

XXIX Laboring by the Numbers

Unions control the legislature and while they groan and moan about insurers, they have huge input on rate setting both on the SCIF board and on the Bureau governing committee.
XXVIII Rehabing Rehab

XXVVII CHSWC Commission Anxiety

Somewhere along the way, the fuse that was supposed to ignite the dynamite that was supposed to blow up the box that is the Commission on Health and Safety and Workers Compensation was snuffed out. Granted, the planned demise of the Commission was consigned to the same scrap heap as was most of the California Performance Review. But that does not explain all the intrigue surrounding what is supposed to be a forum where employers and labor can discuss and resolve pressing issues in the workers compensation system. And now the administrations focus is slightly astigmatic.

XXVI Physician Heal Thy[CMA]self

The California Medical Association (CMA) has launched another assault on SB 899.

XXV B...B...Broken Record

Once again, we are about to be subjected to semiannual rate reduction now expected in California workers' compensation insurance. This, we learned to expect, conveniently corresponds with the biweekly tongue-lashing the Insurance Commissioner delivers to the insurance industry, lamenting that insurers, and State Fund in particular, have been too slow in reducing premiums. To be accurate, we need to have the perspective that this show opened before Governor Schwarzenegger was elected to office:

XXIV The Empty Chair

At the very least, 2005 has been a year of mixed results for the California Insurance Guaranty Association (CIGA). In the legislature, it was successful in securing enactment of AB 1761 (Vargas), legislation that clarifies who is entitled to loss reimbursements under workers' compensation deductible policies written by an insolvent insurer. On the other hand, pending in its last committee and likely to be sent to the governor is AB 817 (Matthews), a curious piece of legislation designed to stave off litigation against CIGA stemming from its decision to stop making payments on excess workers' compensation policies written for qualified self-insureds.

XXIII Not on My Watch

There is no question that the past three years have been remarkable ones in the history of Californias workers compensation system. It is the next five we shall think about in this piece.

XXII The Mouse That Roared

A strange thing happened a week or so ago in the California Assembly. No, it was not that the Insurance Committee resoundingly rejected what could easily be considered the most complicated rate regulatory scheme ever devised since the McCarran-Ferguson Act became law in 1945. It was a remarkable dialog between two legislators, Betty Karnette, a moderate Democrat from Long Beach, and Dennis Mountjoy, a very conservative Republican from San Gabriel Valley. The two see eye to eye on virtually nothing. But true to the insurance industry's reputation of uniting even the most divergent groups, they did agree on one thing-it was not time for insurance rate regulation yet. California workers' comp was saved from rate regulation perhaps for the last time.

XXI Snowing in June

Funny thing about the weather around the Sierra Nevada, it seems as though at anytime during the year a freak storm can come up and just like that there is snow all over the place. It is especially disconcerting when you are in a "white-out" where the snow is falling so fast you can't see where you are going to, or coming from for that matter.

XX Is There a Doctor in the House?

You may have a problem finding one, since it appears that many practitioners of the healing arts can be found in Sacramento these days, rubbing elbows with the powerful in an effort to get back some of the piece of the pie they lost in the most recent rounds of workers' compensation reform. Figuring out the dynamics of these bills is an interesting exercise in complexity even by Capital standards. If some of this doesn't make sense, well, join the crowd.

XIX Coloring Within the Guidelines

There I was at the Acme School for Workers' Compensation Claims Adjusters. It was the first class of the first approved vendor for the new claims training authorized by the Department of Insurance. The various insurer, self-insured and TPA employees had about them an air of anticipation, as though they were about to be part of something special.

XVIII The Anniversary

It started with a few business owners, frustrated at what they thought was the injustice of their situation. Over the years, they had been effectively silenced by the government and were seeing their dreams dashed on the rocks of high costs and oppressive mandates. Farmers, merchants, shop owners in small towns, big businesses in the heart of cities, all were affected and they knew something had to change.

XVII The Lords Work

It had all the trappings of a revival meeting. It wasn't, of course, for the subject matter had nothing to do with the Lord's work. It was, instead, a calling up of the faithful to recommit to the power of workers' compensation reform. It had a certain evangelical fervor to it, it required those in attendance to sing the praises of what the Governor has done, and at the appropriate time I fully expected the assembled business leaders to shout "Hallelujah!" when exhorted by the white-suit-clad minister from the Chamber of Commerce.

XVI No Good Deed Goes Unpunished

Somehow I managed to find myself on a seat on Charon's boat, apparently crossing over from the Delta King to Raley's Landing in the dead of night. Odd that I hadn't thought of this being my final voyage-or that West Sacramento was the Underworld. It was equally odd that Charon bore a remarkable resemblance to Don Perata, President Pro Tem of the California Senate. He's not one that I would think would be ferrying people to the Underworld, or West Sacramento, as the case might be. John Burton, maybe, or even Bill Lockyer; but of the Pro Tems I've known, Perata is the least likely to be the servant of Hades. Go figure.

XV The Metamorphosis

Tom had been walking on crutches for better than three weeks, the aftereffect of a nasty fall at work that gave him a very badly sprained ankle. Because he was on his feet most of the time, there wasnt much he could do but wait, keeping his leg up during the day and waiting for his next doctors appointment. Progress was slow. It seemed that he was the only one worried about him getting back to work. Finally, his ankle showed signs of improvement. When he was told he needed to go to physical therapy, he was a bit reluctant but believed his doctor knew best.

XIV Heartburn on the Interstate

It used to be called a truck stop, on I-5 where you exit to get to Lodi. It's close to Sacramento and Stockton, but for long-haul truckers who eat there, nothing is close to anything. The food is good and there is a lot of it. The waitresses are friendly and, on weekends, families from around the area come and eat there. It is a place where heartburn and nostalgia are served with equal generosity, a place where one could remember back when summer vacation meant station wagons and motels, not theme parks, security screening and bags of peanuts.

XIII Déjà Vu Is an Occupational Disease

Recently I, Publius, was lamenting the sorry state of affairs in workers' compensation. Small business complains that insurance rates are not dropping fast enough. Labor complains that the administration has perverted the intent of SB 899. Applicants' attorneys complain that insurance companies make obscene profits and that injured workers' lives are being ruined by the system. Insurance companies complain that changes in the law come too fast and everything is too uncertain.

XII The Empire Strikes Back

October 15, 2005 It was heralded as a new dawn for California. A stunning string of successes in the legislature and on the ballot in 2005 promised that politics as usual in the Golden State was no more. Public and private unions were decimated by a string of defeats, from workers compensation reform in 2004 to the PERS changes approved by the voters in the July 2005 special election. Democrats crumbled during budget negotiations, agreeing to virtually all recommendations in the California Performance Review. Even the Little Hoover Commission caved in to the Governors proposals. The Workers Comp Appeals Board was gone or more appropriately, blown up. Appellate judges were sent their pink slips and told to check for openings with the Office of Administrative Hearings at General Services. It was still business as usual in the district offices.

XI On the Road

I was driving up Interstate 5 to Sacramento one bright, crisp winter morning when I saw three men in suits along the road, their car broken down. I pulled in behind them and asked if I could be of assistance

X The 3 1/2 Percent Solution

If California's workers' compensation saga were to be adapted to a novel - fictional of course - the title might well be The 3 1/2 Percent Solution. The announcement in July of a proposed pure premium increase for January 1, 2005 caught many people off guard, even though the recommendation was due to a benefit increase enacted two years ago in AB 749. Of course, no one expected Commissioner Garamendi to approve the recommendation, and with some actuarial sleight of hand he ordered a 2.2% decrease in pure premiums together with a stern warning to the industry to slash premiums. This is an interesting comment coming from a solvency regulator

IX Deductible Reasoning

There are three issues involving the California Insurance Guarantee Fund that should come up in the next legislative session. First, making sure that employers reimburse CIGA not a defunct carriers' estate under large deductible policies. Second and third are about whether the premium tax and CIGA surcharges should continue to be waived for the large deductible portion of workers' comp policies. The Executive says Yes to the first and No to the second and third.

VIII Waiting for Minnear

It was only a matter of time. At some point, the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board (WCAB) was going to issue an opinion that was going to touch off a controversy. To experienced WCAB watchers, it wasn’t a question of if but when. With all the changes created in AB 227, SB 228, and SB 899, it was inevitable that the Appeals Board was going to step into the confusing morass of often contradictory changes to benefits, procedures and rights that have occurred over the past three years as the Legislature scrambled to get out of the political oven and proclaim the workers’ compensation crisis “fixed.”

VII The Trouble with Law Is Lawyers. (Clarence Darrow)

VI  It is no secret that we are now adrift in the wake of intense acrimony created by the too-well-funded campaign by California Applicants' Attorneys Association (CAAA) efforts to undermine SB 899. Whether before a microphone or a judge, CAAA is pulling out all the stops to bring us back to the time when they controlled medical care for injured workers, when they could mine case files for even the most minute flaws, confident that it would yield massive penalties, and when they controlled the pen that wrote legislation and signed it into law. To paraphrase our former governor, not everyone shares CAAA's vision.

VI Take This Job - Please

One of the more significant changes to Californias workers compensation laws over the past several years has been an entirely different approach to return-to-work. Given the RAND wage loss data to be used for determining part of the permanent disability benefit, it is finally safe to say that there is empirical justification for what the business community had been saying for yearsthat the vocational rehabilitation benefit was a benefit to vendors but not much of a boon for injured workers. Labor and employers agreed, and in Assembly Bill 227 (Vargas) that benefit was repealed for injuries occurring on and after January 1, 2003

V Medical Cost Controls— We Have Met the Enemy, and They Are Doctors

Control of medical costs in California’s workers’ compensation system is not a new problem. For more than a decade at least, legislators have tried to figure out how to balance the constitutional requirement to provide all medical care reasonably necessary to “cure or relieve” with trying to curb out-of-control medical costs.

IV Governing Wisely from Arden Way

2424 Arden Way, Suite 230, Sacramento, California. For most Californians—and for that matter, most Sacramentans, this address means nothing. For some, it may provoke a response, “Is it close to the mall?” No, it is not. It is in a long block of fading strip commercial properties. It is in an area most of us wouldn’t want to walk around at night. Behind these buildings are apartment complexes whose tenants worry about theft and violent crime. 2424 Arden Way is also the local office of the Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board. For most people, it simply does not exist.

III Rate Regulation - Shooting the Messenger

On May 13, 2004, the California Applicant Attorneys Association (CAAA) called for an immediate 25 percent reduction in insurance rates. Only two weeks later, on May 28, 2004, that number had risen to 30 percent. On June 18, Senator Richard Alarcon expressed his disappointment that rates were not being reduced by at least 20 percent, according to a quote in the Sacramento Bee. Senator Alarcon, like many others in the Legislature, apparently has failed to notice that the Commissioner’s rate reduction order called for a 20.9 percent reduction in rates from July 1, 2003, a call answered by several major insurance carriers. Many other large carriers have filed rate reductions very close to that called for by the Commissioner. Still others filed lower but significant decreases

II The Brave New World of Permanent Disability

The greatest unknown in SB 899 is the new determination of permanent disability. This, along with medical treatment, is one of the two greatest cost drivers in the system. Proponents of the RAND stealth PD system argue that this new mechanism will bring certainty, equity and predictability to the PD rating process. (Or was that liberté, égalité et fraternité?)

I State Compensation Insurance Fund - Mashed, Baked or Deep-Fried?

The new hot potato confounding public officials is the State Compensation Insurance Fund, the historic quasi-public entity established to meet California's constitutional mandate to make mandatory workers' compensation insurance competitive and available.