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Dan Deuterman
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California Trooper Battles for Benefits after Workers' Comp Reform

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A San Diego Tribune article shows how California’s workers’ compensation reform once again is hurting the little guy, including those whose job is to keep us safe.

It points out the case of California Highway Patrol officer Gary Hoag’s uphill battle to receive physical therapy for his left leg, medical care for his right leg and psychological counseling.

Since a series of changes to the workers’ comp system in 2003 and 2004, California has sharply cracked down on payments to injured workers, according to the Tribune article. Even with the changes, California still has some of the country’s highest workers’ compensation insurance premiums while paying out the lowest in workers’ compensation benefits to injured workers, lagging behind such states as Mississippi, Arkansas, and Iowa which have much lower costs of living.

The Tribune story points out that in 2005, workers’ comp insurers had a 50 percent profit margin on their premiums in California.

Lawmakers are starting to take notice of the disparity, with bills being introduced in the State Senate to expand benefits to workers.

For Trooper Gary Hoag, he is still fighting to extend his necessary medical treatment. Earlier this year a worker’s comp claim adjuster abruptly put a halt to his physical therapy sessions because he has “exceeded the guidelines…established under the 2004 reforms.”

Hoag’s attorney, Linda Atcherley says that Hoag is actually one of the lucky ones. “Fortunately, he’s a police officer and people really have sympathy for police officers,” she said. “But day laborers and farmworkers and other people have similar injuries, and who knows what happens to them.”