Health Wonk Review and other occupational news of note

May 9th, 2013 by Julie Ferguson

Joe Paduda has a not-to-be-missed robust edition of Health Wonk Review posted at Managed Care Matters. It covers health care cost trends, reform implementation, motivations and more. Get your biweekly dose of health wonkery from the best in the blogosphere to stay current on the trends.
And in other news …
Texas tragedy & insurance matters
Dallas News reporters Doug Swanson and Reese Dunklin report that West Fertilizer was insured for only $1 million in liability. The explosion killed 15, injured several hundred, and caused an estimated $100 million in property losses. According to state insurance authorities, fertilizer facilities are not required to have liability insurance that would compensate for damage they might cause. The article includes this observation: “A million dollars is a pathetic amount for this type of dangerous activity,” lawyer Randy C. Roberts said. “If you want to drive a truck down the interstate, you’ve got to have $750,000 in coverage, even if you’re just carrying eggs,” Roberts said. “But if you want to put this ammonium nitrate into this town next to that school and that nursing home and those houses, you’re not required to carry insurance.”
According to Property Casualty360‘s Arthur Postal, workers comp for the deceased first responders and injured city workers will be covered by the state’s Large Loss Fund. The only West Fertilizer employee involved was a first responder killed in the blast who was covered by the fund — the company itself has an “alternative benefit plan” since workers comp is not mandatory in Texas — an issue that raises more questions. See Postal’s related article: The Assault on State-Regulated Workers’ Comp, which talks about Texas, Ohio, New York and Oklahoma.

Boston Marathon Bombing
Surgeon-journalist Atul Gawande has a must-read insider’s account in The New Yorker, which explains Why Boston’s Hospitals Were Ready to cope with the emergencies created by the Boston Marathon bombing.
Here’s to the Nurses
While on the topic of excellent medical care, it’s a good time to note that this is National Nurses Week. It runs through May 12, which is the birthday of Florence Nightingale, widely recognized as the founder of modern nursing. One of the key issues facing nursing — and one that has an impact on patient safety, too, is staffing levels. See: Nurses Fighting State By State For Minimum Staffing Laws.
State of the Unions
Differences between union and nonunion compensation, 2001-2011 (PDF) – BLS reports: “Union workers continue to receive higher wages than nonunion workers and have greater access to most employer-sponsored employee benefits; during the 2001-2011 period, the differences between union and non-union benefit cost levels appear to have widened.”
Cool Tool
The National Conference of State Legislatures offers a Workers Compensation — Enacted Legislation Database
Worker Memorial Day Followup
Compliance and Safety Blog featured an excellent roundup of links, tributes, historical information, and the 1994 Documentary by Robert Cotter that tells the story of the Hamlet fire in the Imperial Chicken Plant that killed 25 workers, with the story told From The Eyes Of The Survivors. This was an egregious incident – 19 of the deceased workers were mothers with young children. The plant owner locked the emergency exit to prevent theft.
Belated Risk Roundup
While yours truly was off on vacation last week, the risk bloggers weren’t: Here’s last week’s roundup: Cavalcade of Risk #182, posted by Jeff Root of Rootfin, A Texas resident who passed through West, TX within 15 hours of the blast.
Belated Kudos
Hats off to Michael Fitzgibbon, Ontario labor and employment attorney, on his 10 year blogging anniversary at Thoughts from a Management Lawyer – it was a lonely landscape for business bloggers back then, as we well know. He was one of the early links in our sidebar, and is still there today. He names a few other early pioneers in his post.
Other noteworthy news