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Understanding Workers Compensation Medical Care in California

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The workers compensation system in California covers virtually all employed individuals, including immigrants, resident aliens, and minors and provides medical care services to more than half a million workers who suffer workplace injuries each year. In recent years, rising medical costs have threatened to undermine the system's financial viability. In 2004, Governor Schwarzenegger signed legislation (SB 899) designed to keep costs in check, including imposing new fee schedules and guidelines to determine treatment and benefit payments. This report profiles the workers compensation program and how it has evolved since then. It provides an overview of the medical care aspects of workers compensation in California, a summary of available research studies, and a guide to understanding the recent changes.