The Office of Administrative Law (OAL) has approved the new Copy Service Fee Schedule. This will set a much more reliable benchmark for reimbursement of copy services rendered on or after July 1, 2015.
California lawmakers called for the creation of a Copy Service Fee Schedule with the passage of Senate Bill 863, which initially required the fee schedule to be enacted by December 31, 2013. The Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) subsequently drafted multiple versions and gave stakeholders three hearings to comment, before finalizing the regulations and submitting them to OAL for approval. On Monday, May 5, state regulators announced the final version had been approved.
The impetus behind the creation of the new copy service fee schedule was to simplify disputes over how much copy services should be paid. Often, attorneys will subpoena records from a multitude of locations more than one time, creating hundreds – if not thousands – of pages of subpoenaed records.
Fee disputes often arise during the lien phase of a workers’ compensation claim, long after the case-in-chief has settled. Copy service lien claimants must prove the records were necessary to help resolve a factual or legal issue in dispute. Once they satisfy that burden of proof, opinions range wildly on how much they should be reimbursed.
To put it in Wall Street terms, copy service fees are extremely volatile, in the respect that they fluctuate significantly from claim-to-claim. For instance, I have had some copy services argue they should be reimbursed at a rate as high as $10 per page, while others have come in at less than a dollar per page. This volatility prompted difficult disputes that have undoubtedly caused insurance carriers, copy services, judges, attorneys, and hearing representatives to wish for a more reliable system of reimbursement. Former DWC Administrative Director Rosa Moran heard their pleas and was among the first regulators to call for a copy service fee schedule. Eventually, the calls for a fee schedule reached the state lawmakers who implemented it into SB 863.
The new fee schedule dictates:
- A flat fee of $180 covers records of 500 pages or less.
- For every page exceeding the 500-page threshold, bill an additional $0.10 a page.
- These new regulations apply to all dates of service on or after July 1, 2015.
- Copy service bills must include professional photocopier numbers, claim numbers, billing codes, and providers’ tax identification numbers.
- An extra copy of records will run $5, if it is requested within 30 days of the original subpoena. If requested more than 30 days after the original subpoena, the additional set of records will cost $30.
- Claims administrators are not liable for records previously obtained by subpoena or authorization by the same party and served from the same source. Exception: a claims administrator can be liable if there is a declaration from the requestor explaining “good cause” for the new subpoena.
- DWC transcripts of 33 pages and under cost $100. Transcripts more than 33 pages will run an additional $3 a page.
These regulations should help expedite copy service fee disputes, and do away with the unreasonable $10-per-page reimbursement requests for good.
I do believe that some judges will suggest that the copy service fee schedule is a reasonable basis for settlement of dates of service prior to July 1, 2015. Some Southern California judges have suggested using the fee schedule during pretrial settlement talks, and in my personal experience, the parties found that to be quite helpful.
To read the copy service fee schedule, go here: http://www.dir.ca.gov/dwc/DWCPropRegs/CopyServiceFeeSchedule/CopyServiceFeeSchedule.htm
John P. Kamin is an associate attorney at Bradford & Barthel, LLP (Woodland Hills). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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