Calif. Legislators Struggle Over Comp

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By Caroline McDonald

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NU Online News Service, Sept. 9, 4:31 p.m.EDT?State legislators in California are racing a midnightdeadline to come up with an acceptable workers' compensationpackage.

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"They are locked behind closed doors and trying to hammer out adeal," said Nicole Mahrt, director of public affairs for theAmerican Insurance Association in Sacramento, Calif. "Legislatorshave a big challenge in that they want to get as high as $6 billionin savings, but to do that they will have to make some pretty harddecisions."

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Last week, she said, the savings priced out by the ConferenceCommittee were at about $2 billion "but people want more than that,and $2 billion is not enough to make a significant decrease forbusinesses."

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The pure premium rates that will be seen Jan. 1, 2004 wouldrequire a cut of at least $3 billion "just to keep things wherethey are now, so it's a big task," she said.

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Ms. Mahrt added that California Insurance Commissioner JohnGaramendi has been pushing for fundamental reform and "I think thathe's got the right message."

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