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March 08, 2006 3:49 AM
Workers' Compensation News - March 10, 2006, Volume 4 Issue 403

 CALIFORNIA
Three proposals would revise the governor's overhaul of coverage for those hurt on the job.
Three ballot proposals that could cost employers billions of dollars by undoing large portions of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's signature overhaul of the state workers' compensation system have been cleared for signature gathering.
The measures propose to hike benefits paid to permanently disabled workers and even allow them to sue their employers in state court over on-the-job injuries. The latter change would undo a key feature of California's first workers' compensation law. Under that 1913 statute, injured workers traded the right to sue for the promise that they would receive medical care and disability benefits.
http://www.latimes.com/business/careers/work/la-fi-comp21feb21,1,5703039.story?coll=la-headlines-business-careers&ctrack=1&cset=true

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Perception, Reality and Health Insurance: Uninsured as Likely as Insured to Perceive Need for Care but Half as Likely to Get Care
While considerable research shows that uninsured people are less likely to seek and receive medical care, some contend that the uninsured are uninsured by choice and can obtain care when needed. A new study by the Center for Studying Health System Change (HSC), however, undercuts the validity of this contention, finding that there is no difference between insured and uninsured people’s perception of the need to see a medical provider when they experience a serious new symptom. However, among people who believed that they needed medical care, the uninsured were less than half as likely to see or talk to a doctor, indicating that lack of insurance is a major barrier to uninsured people getting needed medical care. 
http://www.hschange.com/CONTENT/790/

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W VA CHAMBER LOBBYS TO CUT OFF DEPENDENCY BENEFITS
Chamber working to keep cut-offs of widows' benefits
The state Chamber of Commerce is working to mobilize supporters to oppose efforts to restore lifelong benefits to widows whose husbands die in coal mine accidents or from respiratory failure after breathing asbestos or rock dust.
http://sundaygazettemail.com/section/Business/2006022117

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NEW YORK TARGET FOR REFORM
Workers' compensation could emerge as one of the key issues of the legislative session as Gov. George E. Pataki, who promptly tackled the matter shortly after taking office in 1995, is again promoting structural changes. In the mid-1990s, Pataki went to the mat to get his way on workers' compensation reform, refusing to negotiate the budget until the Legislature adopted his proposal. It is unclear if he will push that hard this year. 
http://www.law.com/jsp/article.jsp?id=1141293915446

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CHROMIUM STANDARD
Public Citizen Will Sue OSHA Over Inadequate Hexavalent Chromium Standard
Statement of Dr. Peter Lurie, Deputy Director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) new standard to reduce worker exposure to hexavalent chromium is seriously inadequate and will not protect the safety of hundreds of thousands of workers who are exposed to the metal in the workplace. OSHA will publish tomorrow in the Federal Register a final standard designed to reduce worker exposure to the carcinogenic metal used in chrome plating, stainless steel welding and the production of chromate pigments and dyes.
http://www.citizen.org/pressroom/release.cfm?ID=2144

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SSA OFFSET RULES MAY CHANGE
The President's Budget message reveals that the Federal Government is ready to change the SSA Set-Off Rules by proposing a 37.5% reduction of benefits for 5 years (to start with) for those on SSA Disability in lieu of all the 80% ACE limits now in place. 
FY 2007 Budget: Workers Comp Offset To Change and LSDP To End
The President's Budget Proposal for Fiscal Year (FY)
2007<http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/ssa.html>is out. The
proposed budget would give a 5% increase in funding for Social
Security's administrative budget. Despite this increase, the proposal
projects that the average length of time to get a hearing decision from SSA
will increase from 443 days to 467 days even though the proposal assumes a
2% productivity gain at OHA, which is probably unrealistic in any case but
especially given implementation of E-DIB and the Commissioner's proposal.

The President proposes a number of changes in Social Security law, some of
which will be controversial. The Proposal would alter worker's compensation
offsets dramatically:

One proposal would replace the current, complicated reduction to DI benefits
for beneficiaries in some States who also receive Workers Compensation
benefits with a uniform offset that would affect all such beneficiaries for
not more than five years. This simplified offset will reduce erroneous DI
payments and the burden on claimants in making large repayments, and will
save SSA $7 million a year in administrative costs.

See:
http://socsecnews.blogspot.com/2006/02/fy-2007-budget-workers-comp-offset-to.html

Related:
http://www.whitehouse.gov/omb/budget/fy2007/ssa.html

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CMS CONDITIONAL PAYMENTS
CMS has now published an Interim Final Rule to change the parameters of payments and to eliminate those payments where it cannot be anticipated that the workers' compensation awards are not anticipated "promptly."
<http://www.accessdata.fda.gov/scripts/oc/dockets/comments/getDocketInfo.cfm?EC_DOCUMENT_ID=51&SORT=&MAXROWS=15&START=1&CID=&AGENCY=CMS>

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CASES

PENNSYLVANIA - Timing of Independent Rating Examinations
The Supreme Court, No. 14 EAP 2004 and 103 MAP 2004, Cappy, C.J., consolidated cases for appeal and held that:
(1) sixty-day window for insurer to request that injured employee submit to IRE (Independent Rating Examination) for purposes of obtaining automatic reduction in benefits begins once employee has acquired 104 weeks of total disability benefits;
(2) sixty-day window for insurers to request IRE for purposes of obtaining automatic reduction in benefits is a mandatory time limit; and
(3) results of IRE requested beyond sixty-day window may be used to reduce benefits via traditional administrative process.
Gardner v. W.C.A.B. (Genesis Health Ventures) 888 A.2d 758(PA 2005)
http://www.aopc.org/OpPosting/Supreme/out/J-196-2004mo.pdf
Claimant's Attorney: George Martin, Esq.

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CALENDAR
April 8, 2006 NOSSCR - Boston, MA
How to Settle a Workers' Compensation Claim Involving Future Medical Issues without Jeopardizing Medicare Benefits
Jon Gelman
The looming fear of the potential remedial action by CMS has created an unnecessary and massive backlog in the resolution of workers’ compensation claims on a national basis. Learn how to quickly and expeditiously move your workers’ compensation claims though the bureaucracy and finalize the workers’ compensation case without endangering the Medicare benefits of your clients and their auxiliaries. New notice and submission procedures and techniques will be discussed.
NOSSCR (National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives
Boston Marriott Copley Place
http://www.nosscr.org/schedule.html

May. 10, 2006 4p-8p, Pines Manor, Edison, NJ
3rd ANNUAL THIS YEAR IN WORKERS' COMPENSATION: Top Issues & Cases
A panel of State and national experts address important issues that can make or break your case, including a concise analysis of key cases that have been decided during the 
past year. NJ Institute for Continuing Legal Education
http://www.njicle.com/cgi-bin/njicle?SessionID=19&doc=/Seminars/YearWC_5-10-06.html

Featuring Nationally
Renowned Experts: 

Registration will be available at:
NJ ICLE
http://www.njicle.com/cgi-bin/njicle?SessionID=38&doc=/Seminars/YearWC_5-10-06.html

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July 15-19, 2006 ATLA Convention in Seattle, WA 

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