CONSUMER ATTORNEYS WIN ONE WHILE APPLICANTS' ATTORNEYS, DOCTORS, AND PATIENTS LOSE, AGAIN!
In our post of 4/21/2012 we indicated favorable consideration for two bills that would alter Utilization Review practices. We indicated why we felt that AB 1848 (Atkins) was the stronger of the two bills. We're now informed that the Atkins' bill has been withdrawn. AB 1687 (Fong) now stands alone.
In a letter from the Consumer Attorneys of California (CAC), 19 April 2012, the following is stated: "AB 1848 (Atkins) creates unnecessary, but very harmful, hurdles for medical experts seeking to testify on behalf of injured Plaintiffs."
In a not surprising nod to the CAC, it is understood that Committee Chair Hayashi is not likely to recommend passage of AB 1848. In a nutshell, that means her committee doesn't have the votes to pass it. The bill dies, more likely than not, for the rest of the year (a rules change may be required to revive it).
The Achilles' Heel in the Atkins bill is probably not having limited it to Utilization Review in Workers Comp. Its far reaching effects extend beyond the legislative interests of the California Applicants' Attorneys Association (CAAA) which deals with injured workers and beyond the interests of the California Society of Industrial Medicine and Surgery (CSIMS) which was the chief sponsor of AB 584 (Fong) which Governor Brown vetoed last year.
What is still needed is a requirement that doctors who do Utilization Review (UR) for injured workers in California and who have the power to delay or deny care or even to modify care be obliged to meet the same requirements as the treating doctors who are required in California to be licensed and who are obliged to take a 12 hour pain management course (not required if one doesn't have a California license to begin with). An appropriate amendment could still be added to AB 1687 (Fong) as long as it's clear that the application is for UR for industrial medicine (injured workers) and does not apply to personal injury litigation.
Stay tuned. More to come, for sure!