Risk Roundup & Other News of Note

July 25th, 2012 by Julie Ferguson

Risk Roundup – Van Mayhall hosts Cavalcade of Risk #162 on his Insurance Regulatory Law blog – check it out!
Florida – From The Palm Beach Post comes this rather unsettling account: Worst TB outbreak in 20 years kept secret: “The CDC officer had a serious warning for Florida health officials in April: A tuberculosis outbreak in Jacksonville was one of the worst his group had investigated in 20 years. Linked to 13 deaths and 99 illnesses, including six children, it would require concerted action to stop. … “The high number of deaths in this outbreak emphasizes the need for vigilant active case finding, improved education about TB, and ongoing screening at all sites with outbreak cases,” Luo’s report states./ Today, three months after it was sent to Tallahassee, the CDC report still has not been widely circulated.”

Mining – And yet another story about an illness that should be obsolete but is making a resurgence: In Black Lung Makes a Comeback, Underwriters Cough Nervously, Susannah Levine writes, “After years of decline, black lung disease (Coal Worker’s Pneumoconiosis) — once the occupational hazard of career-long coal miners — is showing up in younger and younger miners, say experts.
The Journal of Toxicology reports rapidly progressive CWP — the most swiftly fatal form of the disease — in younger miners, who are often exposed to coal dust and more toxic silica dust over relatively short careers. The CDC has also published several studies finding severe cases of CWP in younger miners.”

After the 1969 Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969, Black Lung was almost eradicated. The Black Lung Benefits Act of 2010 increases the employer’s liability significantly so this increase represents a huge exposure.
Wellness Incentives – The American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, aka ACOEM, has announced the release of Guidance for a Reasonably Designed Employer-Sponsored Wellness Program Using Outcomes-based Incentives, which was published in the July issue of the Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine. The work was a collaborative effort with the Health Enhancement Research Organization, American Cancer Society, American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), American Diabetes Association, and the American Heart Association. The published guidance provides direction on two key questions: 1. What are the elements of a reasonably designed wellness program that incorporates outcomes-based incentives? 2. How can employers who use outcomes-based incentives be sure that their programs comply with the Health Insurance Portability Accountability Act (HIPAA) guidelines for a “reasonable alternative standard” to those who cannot meet the health standard?
More on Physician Dispensing – You might think that with some of the attention given to the topic of late, states would be clamping down on loopholes that allow egregious profits for physician dispensing. Not the case. Joe Paduda reports on WCRI’s recent study of Phsyician Dispensing in Workers’ Compensation says that growth is exploding. One example he cites: “In Illinois, physicians’ share of all prescription costs increased from 22 to 63 percent of all prescription payments over 07/08 to 10/11. You read that right; growth tripled over three years. Even more revealing, the volume of scripts dispensed by docs grew from 26% to 43%.” Apparently, the report hit a nerve because a few days later, Joe posted that WCRI – under assault by physician dispensing company – one AHCS, headquartered in Florida. Hmmm, that name seems familiar. See the NYT: Insurers Pay Big Markups as Doctors Dispense Drugs
Other Items of Note

Seasonal Safety