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Apr 14, 2004 - 07:45 PM

The Real Workers' Comp Deal

by Doug Heller
ArnoldWatch hears that the real deal in Sacramento has nothing to do with the language of the workers' comp bill itself but with a political agreement on another measure.

Tipsters tell us that in exchange for Democratic support on Arnold's version of the workers' comp law, Arnold will agree not to fight to overturn SB 2 -- the 2003 law mandating that many California businesses provide health insurance to employees. SB 2 will be on the November ballot as a referendum. In addition to keeping the Action Hero out of the health care fight, the deal would keep the threatened workers' comp initiative off the ballot. This would allow the labor unions and Democratic Party supporters of SB 2 to focus all their money on winning the health care referendum in November, without having to spend cash on workers' comp.

Of course, the Chamber of Commerce, which led the drive to repeal SB 2 will also be able to focus its resources on the SB 2 fight. Arnold knows that it will be much easier for the Chamber of Commerce to defeat SB 2 at the ballot without his help, than it will be for him and the Chamber to get the voters to pass their confusing, overreaching and extremely long workers' comp initiative. For Arnold, this deal provides one sure victory for him and gets him out of a dicey debate in November.

If, instead, Arnold had to fight for the workers' comp initiative, he would be stuck trying to defend a proposal that, according to its official title "Permits injured employee treatment only by employer-approved physician. Limits right to obtain second medical opinion."

Arnold knows that forcing Californians to go to the "company doctor" with no second opinion will be even harder to sell than Red Sonja.

Unfortunately, the real beneficiaries of this ultra-insider deal are not California businesses or injured workers but Arnold's insurance company donors. In the reportedly 177 page workers' comp proposal that will be voted on before anybody has time to even read the whole thing, insurance companies, which have spiked premiums to historic levels, are not regulated at all.

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