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Mar 11, 2008 - 12:30 PM

Bill would outlaw insurer discrimination by race, age & background

by Carmen Balber
The state Senate passed legislation yesterday -- SB 1115 -- to roll back one of the more odious limits on compensation for injured workers approved with the governor's workers compensation package in 2004. Doctors are now using a provision in the law that allows them to apportion fault for an injury to blame a person's age, race or genetics for the problem and lower their workers compensation accordingly. The bill, by San Francisco Senator Migden, would make it illegal to consider those factors. The Assembly still has to send it to the governor, but recognition that the 2004 law hurts legitimately injured workers is long overdue.

The change shouldn't effect workers comp premiums for businesses at all because, without regulation, the industry is raking in the dough. The last report by the state Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau (from December) shows that insurer loss ratios after 2004 (how much they pay to workers for every dollar they collect in premiums) never rose above 55% - the lowest of any year during the decade before.

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