Health Wonkery, Nightclub Fire Fine, Don’t Fry Day, Manufacturing Trends & More

May 23rd, 2013 by Julie Ferguson

Health Wonkery – At Wright on Health, Brad Wright has posted the Sardonic Edition of Health Wonk Review. He takes a bit of a tongue in cheek approach to the seriousness of our usual wonkery. Harumph, harumph. Check it out.
Station Nightclub Fire Fine in Dispute – Michael and Jeffrey Derderian, owners of the Station Nightclub, are protesting a $1 million fine levied for not having workers’ comp coverage. A 2003 fire at the Warwick, RI nightclub resulted in the deaths of 100 people, including four employees. They claim that they did not know they needed to cover part-time employees and are asking for a review by the state’s Supreme Court. The Providence Journal reports that the Department of Labor and Training is unsympathetic – according to DLT lawyer Bernard P. Healy: “The Derderians, he says, have benefited by the almost nine-year delay in finalizing the $1.066-million penalty since interest hasn’t been accruing. If the brothers had made efforts to compensate “their employees so grievously harmed,” the penalty most probably would have been entirely suspended, he says.”
Don’t Fry Friday – May 24 – Jon Gelman tells us that workers need to be aware that skin cancer is the most common cancer and they need to take preventative action to protect themselves from the sun’s rays. The EPA, CDC, FDA, National Council on Skin Cancer Prevention have declared May 24 as Don’t Fry Friday and offer sun safety tips. Also see Safety Daily Advisor: Skin-Deep Training to Prevent Skin Cancer from the Sun
The future of manufacturing – Joe Paduda posts Where’s manufacturing going – and why should you care? He says you should care because “manufacturing jobs drive workers comp premium.” He reports on a recent talk at the NCCI Issues Conference which predicted the growth of manufacturing in the US. Related: see our December post: Insourcing: A positive trend for U.S. manufacturing and Joe’s post Manufacturing’s coming back.
Different perspectives – At WorkCompEdge Blog, Kory Wells posts Employers and the Work Comp Industry: Failure to Communicate?. She reports on the disconnect between the industry insiders and employers as evidenced in Zywave’s 2013 P&C Workers’ Compensation & Safety Survey with over 3,100 participants. Topics that are heavily covered in workers comp media and widely under discussion by work comp professionals aren’t as high on employers’ radar. Only 28% of employers say they are very or somewhat concerned about opioid issue and only 36% of employers report being very or somewhat concerned about comorbidity issues such as obesity and diabetes complicating recoveries. And although 42% of survey participants were very or somewhat concerned about this year’s change in the experience rating formula, only 15% of employers say they know the value of their company’s loss-free rating, or minimum mod. This raises the issue: are we in the industry communicating enough with employers?
Rocket Science & Workers Comp – fresh from the NCCI Issues Conference, Dave DePaolo opines on all the moving parts that keep the workers’ compensation system working as well as it does in his post It’s Not Rocket Science, But Close – a thoughtful and interesting look at the industry. Some commenters pushed back on his reference to a front end and a back end, and he clarified in another post, Workers’ Compensation Finance 101: “The point that I was making is that there are two distinct processes involved in the worker’s compensation game that are extraordinarily complex and require a good degree of coordination, forecasting and soothsaying in order to operate reasonably efficiently. / Another point that I was making is that workers’ compensation is a cash flow system. By this I mean that money comes into the system through employer assessments; and money flows out of the system by benefit distribution.”
Opioids – Michael Gavin at Evidence Based posts that abuse-deterrent opioids are a great solution but the wrong problem. He says, “The problem as we see it is lack of medical necessity. In most cases, it doesn’t matter if the patient’s opioid is abuse-deterrent or not. If it’s medically unnecessary, if it’s leading to loss of function, if it’s leading to dependence and addiction… it needs to go away. The doctor will be better educated. The patient will get better. The cost of care will go down. Everyone wins. Abuse deterrent technology is great, but if we focus on technology over medical necessity, we will have missed the mark and the crisis will continue.”
Foreshadowing ACA? – At Employee Benefit Adviser, Gillian Roberts reports on recent study released by PricewaterhouseCoopers that shows that employer health coverage actually increased from the time the health care law took effect in Massachusetts seven years ago. In Deconstructing Mass. employer health insurance increase, she notes that while this is not a true indicator of what will happen with the Affordable Care Act, industry insiders say it could point to some overall trends. She reports: “Between 1999 and 2011, PwC’s report says “employer coverage in Massachusetts rose from 70.8% in 2006 to 72.1% in 2011. Nationally, during the same period, employer coverage fell from 68.2% to 58.3%.” PwC’s report also says that qualitative evidence, interviews with HR executives at companies in the state, show that more employees were interested in coverage. The results were of course that 98% of the state became coverage by health insurance.”
Still a problem – While black lung may sound like a disease from a bygone era, that is unfortunately not the case. At Coal Tattoo, Ken Ward Jr. reports that autopsies confirm black lung at Upper Big Branch – it remains a serious concern in today’s coalfields.
Other noteworthy news