On March 30, the longtime director of the California Department of Industrial Relations, Christine Baker, announced her retirement after 34 years of service. Baker is known for accomplishing major reforms to curb workers’ compensation fraud and reduce painkiller prescriptions.
In her retirement announcement letter, Baker wrote, “Since our major reforms to workers’ compensation in 2012, we have increased benefits and improved care to injured workers, including increased benefits for permanently disabled workers. At the same time, these reforms prevented a rate spike for employers and instead led to rate reductions. With evidence-based medicine, the prescription drug formulary and new tools we have been using to combat fraud, we are improving the treatment of injured workers and suspending from the system those who had profited through fraud at the expense of both workers and employers.”
David Lanier, Secretary of the California Labor and Workforce Development Agency, lauded Baker in a statement to Business Insurance: “Through her thoughtful leadership, the department has worked with employees and employers to achieve what was once thought impossible—a workers’ compensation system that has increased benefits, improved medical care for injured workers and lowered rates for employers, a first in the nation heat standard for outdoor workplaces and the most protective regulation in the nation for the safety and health of refinery workers and surrounding communities.”
André Schoorl, Labor and Workforce Development Agency Undersecretary, will be serving as the acting director for the department.