Health Wonk Review and other news briefs

January 21st, 2010 by Julie Ferguson

It’s Health Wonk Review week and our host is Jaan Sidorov at Disease Management Care Blog. He’s just posted the “Tree of Blogs”: An Avatar Movie Inspired Health Wonk Review. Jaan must be of the “spoonful of sugar makes the medicine go down” philosophy because he always manages to post the HWR news in an entertaining format. Needless to say, with the recent Massachusetts’ election, health care reform will be a hot potato in this and in upcoming issues. Get the scoop from the web’s smartest wonks.
For whom the bell tolls – And speaking of the Massachusetts’ election this week, Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters is right out of the gate. He takes a hard look at the state of health care reform in a pair of grim posts: An epitaph for health reform and Why health reform is dead.
Haiti relief Clair Wilkinson of the Insurance Information Institute’s blog posts about the insurance industry’s charitable response to Haiti so if you or your organization would like to make donations in conjunction with others in our industry, she’s got the scoop. Joanne Wojcik of Business Insurance reports on some of the early insurance industry funds pledged for Haiti. Also of note: Hesperian, a non-profit publisher, is also making emergency health materials in Hatian Creole available free.
New NCCI report NCCI has just issued a new research report on Medicare and Workers Compensation Medical Cost Containment. The report looks at how how Medicare reimbursement rates influence prices paid for workers’ comp medical care. Among the findings, NCCI notes that, “The proportion of workers compensation medical costs that are subject to physician fee schedules is declining, with proportionally more billings by facilities. To maintain the effectiveness of medical fee schedules, workers compensation might consider using Medicare billing approaches for hospital stays (DRG) and ambulatory services (APC), but in doing so should adapt Medicare models to workers compensation priorities.”
Sleep deprivation – Roberto Ceniceros of Comp Time posts about shift work and sleep-related accidents related to workers comp in light of a recent court decision denying workers comp to a nurse who was in an accident while driving home after a 16-hour shift. (See our posts on sleepy doctors and the link etween shift work and cancer for other sleep-deprivation matters related to workers’ comp.)
Still a buyer’s market out there – The rumors of an impending soft market may be greatly exaggerated, at least according to the folks in the trenches. In the RIMS benchmark survey, risk managers report there is still no softening in sight. In fact, prices continue dropping, with workers comp being at the head of the pack: “Workers’ compensation and general liability saw the largest decreases, with average declines in renewal premiums of 5.5 percent and 5 percent, respectively. Average D&O premium fell 2.8 percent, and property was essentially unchanged, falling less than half of a percentage point.”
EEOC reports high claims – The EEOC reports that 2009 was the second highest year for workplace bias claims. The most frequently filed discrimination allegations in 2009 were based on race (36%), retaliation (36%), and gender (30%), which the EEOC said followed recent trends.
Florida steps up fraud efforts – The state of Florida has been aggressive in its efforts to chase down employers who commit fraud by premium avoidance. Now, under a fraud pilot program, employees who swindle workers’ compensation insurance companies will be targeted aggressively, too. A streamlined state bureau of workers’ comp fraud investigators, assisted by an assigned prosecuter and and a team of detectives in South Florida, hopes to double arrests this year.
Short shorts
West Virginia Workers Compensation Insurer BrickStreet Approved in Illinois
OSHA issues new booklet on hexavalent chromium standards (PDF)
Avatars in the Workplace: A Legal and Ethical Minefield?
LinkedIn’s Workers’ Compensation Forum
Does OSHA Inspect Employers with 10 or Fewer Employees?