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Last year, the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown enacted a major overhaul of the state's multi-billion-dollar system of compensating workers for job-related injuries and illnesses, aimed at stabilizing its costs.

The Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau, however, believes that premiums for insurance that most employers carry to cover claims for treatment and cash benefits still should rise next year.

The independent bureau announced that taking into account the legislation's changes, premiums should rise by 3.4 percent next year to an average of $2.62 per $100 of payroll.

The recommendation is not binding, and insurers in the highly competitive workers comp market can charge whatever they wish. State Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones also will weigh in with his recommendation.

The bureau also put another caveat on its recommendation - that it could be changed, depending on whether the state Division of Workers Compensation adopts a proposed new schedule of payments for physicians who treat job-related disabilities.

Last year's overhaul of the system, contained in Senate Bill 863, was a deal among most of the major stakeholders in the system, employers and labor unions most prominently. It followed a pattern of making major changes in the system roughly once a decade, usually after years of maneuvering by the major stakeholders.


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