Californians who injure themselves on the job may find themselves waiting months or even years to receive the benefits they are entitled to by law. Employer-approved medical evaluations are increasingly hard to come by, at least according to California’s first-ever audit of its Division of Workers’ Compensation.
What’s the Problem?
Per coverage by the Desert Sun, the state of California is experiencing a shortage of physicians who are signed up with the state workers’ comp program. This means there are not enough doctors available to serve as experts in workers’ comp claims. One reason for this shortcoming may be the fact that California has not increased its pay schedule for these experts, referred to as Qualified Medical Evaluators, in the past 13 years.
Who Does It Affect?
Delays in the workers’ comp process affect everyday employees who are injured on the job. Many of them are unable to access the care they need and/or haven’t had their disabilities properly evaluated, thus interfering with their long-term workers’ comp benefits.
Many injured workers have turned to workers’ comp attorneys to get the medical attention and compensation they so desperately need.
What Is Being Done?
In response to the audit, the Division of Workers’ Compensation has “acknowledged and accepted” the recommendations laid out by the State Auditor, who found the division “failed” to address the shortage of medical experts in 2017-2018. Agency representatives indicated they were already working on solutions, which are direly needed considering that only 2,800 medical evaluators were available to fill the 100,000 evaluation requests made within the audited period.
A revised payment schedule for medical evaluators has been in the works since 2017 and is expected to be finalized in January of 2020 after a series of public comments and reworking. Additionally, the state Legislature has become involved, drafting a bill that accounts for inflation and hopes to attract new medical professionals to the workers’ comp field. The bill is also meant to be heard in January 2020.
Bureaucratic revisions and legislation can be time-consuming processes. In the meantime, we’d like to remind you that delayed or denied benefits are never acceptable when you have a legitimate claim.
Get Help With Your Workers’ Comp Claim
If you’re just getting started with your claim, our experienced and personable lawyers can help guide you through the workers’ compensation process. If you’ve hit a roadblock in your claim, the Law Offices of Andrew B. Shin can help with that, as well.
With our unparalleled knowledge, experience, and compassion, you can get the benefits you need when you need them.