CHA encourages hospital leaders to write to Sen. Hill (D-San Mateo), chair of the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee, to urge opposition to Assembly Bill (AB) 664 (Cooper, D-Elk Grove) and AB 196 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego). CHA has developed template letters for members’ use. Email your letter to Dawn Vicari at email@example.com so it can be emailed to legislators and their staff.
Email your letter to CHA by July 15.
AB 664 would establish a conclusive presumption in the workers’ compensation system that exposure to or contraction of a communicable disease (including, but not limited to, COVID-19) by hospital direct patient care workers during a state of emergency is a result of work. The bill would violate any reasonable standard of fairness, as it requires the employer to accept the claim regardless of evidence that the employee contracted the disease outside of work. AB 664 would also blur the lines between workplace safety requirements and workers’ compensation requirements, trigger benefits without an actual illness, and broaden the scope of workers’ compensation benefits to include housing and living expenses.
AB 196 would also establish a conclusive presumption in the workers’ compensation system for hospital and health system employees, other than direct patient care employees, who contract COVID-19.
CHA is concerned about these bills for two key reasons:
- There is no evidence that valid claims are being denied. These bills would significantly expand the workers’ compensation presumption created in the Governor’s Executive Order, without any evidence to justify that expansion. This sets a troubling precedent and has the potential to significantly alter the state’s workers’ compensation system.
- A “conclusive presumption” would clearly declare, as a matter of law, that employers must provide workers’ compensation benefits for eligible employees even if the evidence clearly indicates that the infection did not occur at work. Given the liberal nature of the California’s workers’ compensation system, this is unwarranted and unprecedented.