Governor Brown's healthcare policies are now colliding. In 2014 Governor Brown signed AB 2127 (Cooley) into law. As a result of this decision the California Education Code now requires that high school athletes who have sustained a cerebral concussion, even a mild one, must be evaluated by someone trained to make this evaluation before the athlete can return to play. The idea is to reduce the consequences of traumatic brain injury (TBI) which may follow a cerebral concussion or be delayed until a series of such concussions have occurred. The injured athlete is now required to get written clearance from a licensed health care provider trained in the management of concussions. This legislation is a step in the direction of protecting high school athletes.
Governor Brown now has a chance to sign legislation, AB 1542 (Mathis & Cooley), that would similarly help injured workers. We have previously recommended that he sign this bill. Nonetheless, the bill remains subject to possible veto. Construction workers, roofers, persons who work at heights, are particularly prone to the type of injury that may cause cerebral concussion and lead to post-concussion syndrome secondary to TBI. California's injured workers deserve protection that is at least as cognizant of their well being as AB 2127 tries to be for high school athletes. That is in part why we ask again that Gov. Brown sign AB 1542, just as he signed AB 2127. In the case of the injured worker trained specialists in the form of NeuropsychQMEs are available and have been for 22 years. It makes no sense to cut this specialty out of the loop. They already are the "licensed health care provider" trained in the management of concussion that is required by law and by common sense. The injured worker who has sustained TBI should have this level of evaluation available.
AB 1542 also looks out for the employer because it provides a sound scientific basis whereby reassignment to modified work or to one's usual and customary job can be made with reasonable medical judgment. It is analogous to deciding whether or not injured athletes can return to play.
In the case of a TBI expertise is also needed for treatment decisions.
A veto of AB 1542 after having signed AB 2127 sends mixed messages on health care. Such a decision would relegate injured workers to a level of healthcare protection below that of injured high school athletes. We do not believe that Gov. Brown wants or needs such a healthcare policy collision.