I was invited to speak this past Friday at the California Applicants'
Attorney's Association (CAAA) Convention in Rancho Mirage, California.
Over 1000 workers’ compensation attorneys and professionals were
in attendance. This was CAAA's 50th anniversary, so it was a special
opportunity to applaud CAAA's past accomplishments, as well as set
a course for the future.
There was a consensus at the convention that injured workers were not getting
the medical treatment they deserve in the California Workers' Compensation
system, and that changes were urgently needed. This isn't just about
injured workers—every working Californian needs to be concerned
about what will happen to them if they suffer an injury on the job and
are denied the care they need.
Before you can communicate to the public at large about what is wrong with
the current system and what can be done about it, it is important to use
terminology that the public can understand. It was my privilege to announce
CAAA's new media tool called "Speaking of…," which
can currently be found in the Apple Store. It provides easy-to-understand
descriptions of common issues in the California Workers' Compensation
System (see below for details)*. This new tool is a valuable resource
to those who are communicating with the press, television, and on social
media about the Utilization Review process and other workers’ comp topics.
At the convention, there was a lively discussion about how even routine
requests for medical treatment were being routinely
denied by Utilization Review (UR) and Independent Medical Review (IMR). These
are only "paper reviews"—no actual exam of the patient even occurs! In fact, the audience
unanimously confirmed by a show of hands that they have all seen cases where relevant
records weren't sent to the reviewing doctor, yet the treatment was
How Workers & Lawyers Can Fight Back
Clearly, we need change. Injured workers and their families are being
permanently harmed by the needless delays caused by out-of-control government bureaucracy.
The state economy is also suffering because the longer it takes a worker
to heal, the longer employers are tied up. The attendees were encouraged
to utilize media platforms to encourage immediate improvement to the system.
One example provided to the audience was to have injured workers write
reviews on Yelp about doctors who perform irresponsible Utilization Review
Bloggers were also encouraged to provide specific Utilization Review and
Independent Medical Review decisions that are not following legal requirements.
By bringing increased visibility to the issue, both California residents
and lawmakers will have a clearer idea of what these processes are costing
our workers, our economy, and our state as a whole.
Both the courts and legislature are aware of the crisis and that it needs
to be fixed. But that takes time. Meanwhile, we should all be doing our
part to make the public aware of this ongoing crisis, offer specific examples
of the abuse, and encourage positive changes to the review process as
soon as possible.
*CAAA's language tool can be found in the Apple Store—search
for "Speaking Of...California Applicants' Attorneys Association.”