It’s the All Treats No Tricks Cavalcade of Risk this week! Louise Norris is hosting over at Colorado Health Insurance Insider. You may recall that Louise just hosted Health Wonk Review too, whew – she’s in demand!
Archive for October, 2014
Louise Norris has posted the falling leaves edition of Health Wonk Review at Colorado Health Insurance Insider. It’s a packed, pre-election edition covering a smorgasboard of topics, from open enrollment and the continuing saga of Obamacare to Ebola and prayer groups. Many thanks to Louise and Jay Norris for hosting.
Don’t know about where you are, but here in New England, the “falling leaves” theme hits the mark. After a glorious foliage season, a multi-day deluge is taking its toll on the seasonal color. Driving in the wet, fallen leaves will be precarious today so take care!
Russell Hutchinson has posted the 219th edition of Cavalcade of Risk at moneyblog. Catch up on various risk-related issues, including reports from New Zealand. Russell is our ongoing global correspondent!
Early this week, Oregon’s Department of Consumer and Business Services published its biannual rankings of state workers’ comp costs (by the way, did you know that “biannual” means both twice a year and once every two years? English is a funny language). Kudos to Jay Dotter and Mike Manley for once again separating the wheat from the chaff.
Since 2006, we’ve written about Oregon’s rankings, as well as those of the actuarial consulting firm, Actuarial & Technical Solutions (ATS) and the National Foundation for Unemployment Compensation and Workers’ Compensation (UWC) headquartered in Washington, DC. If you’re so inclined, see our in depth 2006 report, our 2009 report highlighting Massachusetts and our 2010 report.
Following the Oregon release the blogosphere was quick to note that California, leapfrogging Connecticut and Alaska, had won the 2014 gold medal for most costly state in the nation. People, this was not a surprise.
We have been watching the Golden State’s periodic workers’ comp train wrecks since the late 1980s. Here’s how things usually go.
1. Costs go through the roof
2. Vested interests run around with their hair on fire
3. Legislature enacts reforms
4. Costs drop precipitously (everyone takes credit)
5. Lawyers figure out how to outflank the reforms
5. Costs go through the roof
6. Repeat the process
This has happened at least three times in the last 20 years, most notably during the administration of the Terminator, Arnold Schwarzenegger, when annual costs exceeded $29 billion dollars (you read that right). After reform, costs dropped to around $14 billion. Everyone declared victory and left the field until the sky fell again.
Alex Swedlow and the California Workers’ Compensation Institute have done a marvelous job tracking costs and, through solid research, shining a light on possible ways to lower costs going forward. Nonetheless, to say that California’s workers’ compensation costs are continually volatile seems indisputable.
A couple of other notes on the Oregon rankings:
1. Although lagging far behind California, Connecticut retains its place of honor at Number Two in the ranking. It’s costs are 155% of the median costs for all states and the District of Columbia;
2. In addition to Connecticut, it’s worth noting that four of the other six New England states, Vermont, Maine, New Hampshire and Rhode Island rank in the top 20;
3. And, you might ask, what about the sixth New England state, the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, the home of the bean and the cod. Well, it may be the proverbial broken record, but I’m proud to note that Massachusetts, our home state, at 48th most costly, holds the distinction (again) of being the least costly of any major manufacturing state. This has been the case for the last 15 years. Why other New England states, for that matter all other high cost states, don ‘t take a leaf from the Massachusetts book is beyond me.
I’m betting that California, the state, which, if it were a country would have the fifth highest GDP in the world, will continue its up and down roller coaster ride as time marches on. It’s just too big with too many highly entrenched vested interests to do otherwise.
Joe Paduda has posted this week’s Health Wonk Review at Managed Care Matters. In keeping with the overall mission of HWR, he says that there’s “lots of health policy stuff, all right here!”
While at Joe’s blog, also check out his post on drug formularies . He makes the case that despite progress that payers and PBMs have made in curbing runaway opioid costs, new drug-related issues keep emerging (eg compounding) and tighter controls are needed.
David Williams hosts this weeks Cavalcade of Risk #218 at Health Business Blog – check it out!
OSHA Expands Mandatory Reporting Requirements to Encompass Individual Employee Hospitalizations, Amputations, and Eye Loss
Jason Markel, Hodgson Russ LLP:
“On September 11, 2014, OSHA adopted a final rule that significantly broadens the mandatory reporting requirements, resulting in an amended Section 1904.39 that becomes effective on January 1, 2015. The amended regulation will require employers not only to report deaths within eight hours as before; it also mandates that employers report to their local OSHA office, subject to limited exceptions, all in-patient hospitalizations of an employee, all amputations, and all eye loss incidents within 24 hours of the event. And, of course, these events must also be recorded on the employer’s OSHA 300 log.”
Changing Soon: OSHA Requirements for Reporting Fatalities and Severe Injuries
Biz groups ‘alarmed’ by new OSHA rules for workplace accidents
OSHA Will Put Workplace Safety Data Online as ‘Nudge’ to Employers
Other OSHA News
Top 10 OSHA violations in 2014
OSHA targets companies that punish employees for reporting injuries
OSHA’s List of Severe Violators Grows by 23 Percent
There are currently 423 sites in the program. “Launched in 2010, OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program “concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations,” in the words of the agency.”