Governor Brown Vetoes MRSA Bill
Governor Jerry Brown has vetoed Assembly Bill (AB) 2616, also known as the MRSA Bill.
AB 2616 would have eliminated the gender bias against female first responders by providing a rebuttable presumption in the area of Workers' Compensation to nurses and healthcare workers (predominately women) for MRSA infections contracted by providing direct patient care at acute-care hospitals.
MRSA (Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus) is one of the most dangerous types of staph infections affecting millions of healthcare workers around the world. Given the nature of their work, healthcare workers are among the most highly exposed to this extremely contagious infectious disease.
Because the governor vetoed AB 2616, nurses and other hospital workers who work directly with patients and contract MRSA will continue to have the burden of proving the infection came from work. This is almost impossible to prove.
For other first responders, such as firefighters and police officers, an infectious disease or cancer is "presumed" to be work-related, thus removing the burden of proving the illness was caused, at least in part, by the job.
In his veto message, the governor wrote:
"California's no-fault system of workers' compensation insurance requires that claims must be 'liberally construed' to extend benefits to injured workers whenever possible. The determination that an illness is work-related should be decided by the rules of that system and on the specific facts of each employee's situation. While I am aware that statutory presumptions have steadily expanded for certain public employees, I am not inclined to further this trend or to introduce it into the public sector."
First responders—be they male or female—put their lives on the line every day to keep the communities they serve safe. We at Gordon, Edelstein, Krepack, Grant, Felton & Goldstein, LLP will continue to stand alongside those legislators in Sacramento who fight for justice on behalf of those injured on the front lines, be it on the streets or in the hospitals.
Although we are disappointed with the veto, these cases are still important to those affected in the workplace, and we will work within the rules of the system to ensure that appropriate Workers' Compensation benefits are provided.