Oppose a Dangerous Workers Compensation Presumption That Would Burden Our Health System

The Valley Industry and Commerce Association (VICA) opposes Senate Bill 213 (Cortese), which would establish a presumption in the workers’ compensation program for a broad range of illnesses and injuries and relieve hospital employees from having to demonstrate that certain infectious diseases, musculoskeletal injuries, and respiratory diseases arose out of their work environment. 

Employee safety is a top priority for our hospitals and health systems where proper precautions are taken. Yet, work-related injuries can still occur. In those cases, every employee has access to California’s no-fault workers’ compensation system, which is designed to support employees. However, when a disagreement arises, there is great value in the current resolution process, a fair and robust procedure administered by the Division of Workers’ Compensation which protects employees as well as employers, ensuring fair compensation.

SB 213 would expand presumptions into the private sector for the first time for a specific group of employees without any evidence that employees lack access to workers’ compensation benefits. In fact, reports show that health care employers are a leading industry when it comes to approving most workers’ compensation claims. 

A presumption can result in hundreds of thousands of dollars in temporary and permanent disability payments and medical costs for a single case, with little to no evidence the injury occurred at work. Any increase in workers’ compensation costs will have a direct and immediate impact on the financial ability of a hospital to provide access to high-quality care, which is already in jeopardy due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The financial impact of SB 213 would significantly burden our hospitals and health systems with increased costs which would be astronomical. One musculoskeletal claim which could be filed as many as five years after employment ends could reach hundreds of thousands of dollars for a hospital or health system that is self-insured.

SB 213 set a troubling precedent and has the potential to significantly alter the state’s workers’ compensation system.  

For these reasons, VICA respectfully urges you to oppose SB 213.