Governor Signs Senate Bill 489 Improving Worker’s Compensation for Emergency Services
SACRAMENTO – Late yesterday, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill 489, which will extend the period of time allowed for hospitals and emergency physicians to bill for emergency services provided to workers injured on the job.
“SB 489 addresses a minor, technical error in current law that has significant impacts on hospitals and workers,” said Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena). “This bill helps ensure that hospitals who provide vital emergency services to workers who have sustained injuries on the job, have the sufficient amount of time to process and secure payments for the treatment they have already delivered.”
Last year, the Legislature passed SB 1160, which reduced treatment barriers, expedited medical treatment for injured workers, and reduced fraud throughout the worker’s compensation system.
One of the key reforms was speeding up medical care in specified situations by reducing external medical review. In return, medical providers were required to bill within a 30 day period. Due to a drafting error, emergency services were included under the time available for hospitals and emergency physicians to bill patients for emergency care. This reduced timeline makes it unlikely that a hospital would be able to ascertain that an injury is occupational and send out a bill within 30 days of the initial injury. When billing deadlines are not met, there is a risk that the services these professionals legitimately and legally provided will go unpaid.
“By extending the billing timeline from 30 days to 180 days, this bill provides a reasonable standard that is already in place for both public and private payers, and there is no reason why this should not be the same for worker’s compensation claims,” Bradford continued.