Cavalcade of Risk #70 and other news of note

January 28th, 2009 by Julie Ferguson

Our friend David Williams is the host of this week’s Cavalcade of Risk at Health Business Blog – check it out. And while visiting David’s neighborhood, you might want to read an interesting recent guest post by Dr. Michael Ozner about The Great American Heart Hoax: Economic and Political Implications.
Florida – After enjoying a multi-year run of declining workers’ comp rates since the 2003 reform, Florida is scheduled for a 6.4% workers compensation rate increase effective April 1. Post-reform, rates have dropped by more than 60%, but storm clouds loom since the November Supreme Court struck down a cap on attorney fees in Murray v. Mariners Health/ACE USA. This is less than the NCCI recommendation of 8.9%. NCCI estimates that the court decision will result in an increase in overall system costs of 18.6%. (PDF)
Black lungThe Pump Handle recently featured a reprint of an article by Carol Bass that asks the question Why is black lung back? The rate of black lung has doubled among U.S. coal miners in recent years and researchers are looking at various questions: After decades of steady decline, why has black lung disease made a comeback? Why is it progressing faster and striking younger miners – those who have spent less time on the job, and who never worked in the bad old days before the federal law took effect? And why is the spike limited to a few geographic hot spots? There are several theories posed, but no answers.
Iowa – Add Iowa to the ranks of states that are cracking down on the misclassification of independent contractors – see a report on recent Findings and Recommendations (PDF). In the last six or seven years, various states have stepped up efforts to crack down on this fraudulent practice; the Executive Summary of this report offers a brief synopsis of why this type of misclassification is so damaging to the state, to the competitive environment, and to the workers. Note that on page 11-12, the report summarizes other state initiatives to crackdown on this problem.
Market is hardening – the Fourth Quarter RIMS survey shows signs that the soft market is losing steam and prices for commercial insurance should begin increasing by the fourth quarter of 2009 or the first quarter of 2010.
Unusual job hazard of the week – Mail carries in Rockport MA have had to take unusual measures to defend themselves against a rather unusual work safety challenge that has succeeded in halting the mail where rain, snow, and sleet have failed: aggressive and hostile turkeys. Mail carriers are advised to carry umbrellas and open them when being charged by the birds. The theory is that this faux dominance demonstration might fool the turkeys into thinking they have met a bigger, more dominant turkey.