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Mar 17, 2004 - 12:15 PM

Fraud and Deception in Workers' Comp Battle

by Doug Heller
Arnold has been campaigning against fraud and deception in the workers compensation system, but there's new deception in his campaign to change the system. Arnold has received $452,000 in campaign contributions from eight of the nation's largest workers' comp insurers into campaign committees he controls. Now he has moved a million dollars from his California Recovery Team committee to an initiative campaign that would limit what Californians receive after a workplace injury, but do nothing to limit what insurance companies charge to California businesses or earn in profits.

Because of this sleight of hand, the insurers' role in the battle will largely be hidden.

One week ago the California Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau said that insurance costs would be $7 billion less than had been previously projected, indicating that insurance rates should be lowered for the state's businesses. But rather than pushing insurers to reduce workers' compensation rates, Arnold has pressed for insurer-supported legislation.

In recent weeks, the Gov stepped up the campaign by sending letters to business owners around the state asking them to sign a petition to lawmakers demanding that the politicians enact Arnold's workers' comp plan or else face a showdown at the ballot box.

The initiative shell game started with Arnold's Props 57 & 58 campaign -- when TV ads told voters that funding for the measures came largely from "Governor Schwarzenegger‚s California Recovery Team," even though big developers, financiers and other special interests were actually funding the Recovery Team. Similarly, when the workers' comp initiative ads appear, the insurers' will not be identified.

Arnold, who said at a rally recently that he is not going to be pushed around by special interests, is unwilling to push back on the insurers that have given him nearly a half a million. But, at least, he should stop playing the game of "hide the contributor" that will allow insurers to fight their war without having to show their face on the battlefield.

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