May 7--DENVER -- A bill that would have placed limits on the ability of insurers to spy on workers' compensation claimants died Wednesday in committee.
The Senate Committee on Judiciary killed HB1012, sponsored by Rep. Sal Pace, D-Pueblo, more than a month after hearing testimony on it. It failed on a 4-3 vote.
"We knew all along that we were missing a key vote. That's why it sat on the calendar for a month," Pace said.
The proposal sprang from interim committee hearings last year on Pinnacol Assurance, the state's quasi-governmental workers' compensation insurer of last resort.
When workers' compensation claimants testified that Pinnacol practiced oppressive surveillance practices, Pace hatched the idea to restrict spying.
Originally, Pace's bill aimed to fine insurers up to $1,000 a day for conducting surveillance on claimants without probable cause to suspect fraud.
After it was amended in the House Appropriations Committee, the parameters for surveillance admissible in administrative law actions were expanded to include instances when claimants were observed exceeding the physical limitations imposed by their doctors. The imposition of fines was removed from the bill.
But another change -- the requirement that treating physicians observed video administrative-hearing for purposes of claimants allegedly exceeding their physical limitations -- met resistance. Some lawmakers thought it unfairly tampered with existing rules of evidence.
Pace said he is considering carrying legislation in the future that would tackle that specific question.
"Under the current system, medical assessments of videos are made by claims adjusters, attorneys and administrative law judges who don't have the training to make a diagnosis," Pace said. "That should be a doctor's role. It needs to change."
Pace also said regulation of private investigators is in order, and he could run a bill in the future with that aim, too.
While Pace's surveillance bill was winding through the Legislature, Pinnacol maintained that it only conducted surveillance under very specific circumstances. Some claimants allege the observations they were subjected to were oppressive, influenced them to settle their cases and continued beyond settlement of their claims.
Pinnacol denied spying on any claimants after their cases had been settled.
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