FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Media Contact: Lynda Halligan, Director of Communications and Public Affairs
Phone: 714-285-2800, Email: Lynda@AOCDS.org
WORKERS’ COMP REFORM APPROVED RETURNING INJURED OC PEACE OFFICERS TO WORK SOONER AND SAVING TAXPAYER DOLLARS
SANTA ANA, CA – June 28, 2018
After lengthy negotiations, we are pleased to announce that the Association of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs (AOCDS) and Orange County Board of Supervisors have reached an agreement to introduce an innovative workers’ compensation Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) program. This will give our county law enforcement officers and deputies the health care they deserve while helping Orange County save taxpayer dollars. The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) was recently approved by the State of California and covers all bargaining units represented by AOCDS.
This new ADR program will help speed up the treatment of injured officers and resolve workers’ comp-related disputes faster. It ensures timely care for injured officers and deputies, decreases lengthy litigation and improves the process of determining the type of care while reducing the burden to taxpayers.
The new program provides a definitive plan to save Orange County taxpayers money and better serve the health-care needs of our members. The benefits of implementing this program are centered on helping our law enforcement officers and deputies with the following:
• Receiving treatment for on-the-job injuries faster than before
• Getting back to work sooner after a full recovery
• Preventing possible future injuries due to returning to work prematurely
• Getting disputes resolved in a timely manner limiting delays in members being able to return to work
“After an injury occurs, the main focus is on a speedy recovery,” said AOCDS President Tom Dominguez. “This should be a smooth process free of obstacles inhibiting the road back to serving our communities. I would like to thank the OC Board of Supervisors for their collaborative efforts and commitment to reform workers’ comp to the benefit of taxpayers and our law enforcement officers.
How Does the ADR Work?
When a peace officer employed by the County of Orange is injured and seeks treatment from a doctor, the physician is no longer restricted from providing treatment until lengthy approvals are obtained. The physician, based on his or her evaluation, can now provide the proper courses of treatment without waiting for approvals every step of the way. This will speed up the treatment process, sometimes by several months.
Under the new ADR program, if there is a dispute in assessing whether a member needs surgery or the injury was work-related, the injured officer or deputy will be referred to the Independent Medical Examiner (IME) within 30 days. The IME will then issue a medical report 30 days later. This process is much faster than the current process, which could take many months, if not years.
The IME is made up of highly qualified medical professionals who can address a variety of different specialties. The medical professionals were jointly selected based upon their ability to be fair and impartial as well as their strong understanding of peace officer-related medical and legal issues.
First architected in 2008 with Long Beach for police and fire by public safety law firm, Adams, Ferrone & Ferrone, the ADR program has proven to resolve disputes faster and help get injured public safety personnel back to work sooner while saving taxpayers money in jurisdictions that institute the program. The Orange County Fire Authority (OCFA), for example, saved taxpayers roughly $1.5 million after the first year (based on a recent audit). In other cases, jurisdictions have reduced the time required to resolve disputes from one year to 75 days, on average.
The details of this new ADR program will be rolled out to AOCDS members in the coming days.