Archive for the ‘News roundups’ Category

Health Wonk Review and a tribute to our veterans

Friday, November 10th, 2017

At Healthcare Economist, Jason Shafrin has posted the latest compendium of posts from the health policy bloggers: Health Wonk Review: Quote-of-the-day Edition. He frames each submission with a pithy quote. While the overall shape and politics of the healthcare debate are still a primary theme of posts, there are other entries, including two videos. Grab a coffee and catch up on the latest thinking from the wonks.

This weekend, we pay tribute to our veterans and thank them for their service and sacrifice. We end with this advice: How to honor veterans: Hire one!

Fresh Health Wonk Review, Disaster Edition

Thursday, October 26th, 2017

Check out the latest Health Wonk Review: Disaster edition freshly posted by David Williams at Health Business Blog. David is a long-time HWR host and his business blog is a strong and authoritative voice in the health business sector – if he isn’t on your regular reading list, you should change that!

Just a few other quick updates:

A quick shout-out to esteemed colleague Joe Paduda of Managed Care Matters who is running for office in his home area of Onondoga County, New York. November 7 is pretty quick upon us. You can find out more at Paduda for Progress – if you are on Facebook, you can show him some love there ;-)

Because we’ve written about him quite a bit in the past, we didn’t want to miss this update on Don Blankenship of the Massey Coal Mining disaster infamy:  Supreme Court lets criminal conviction stand against coal executive Blankenship

Another issue we’ve posted about previously is the death of cell tower workers. We were interested to see that Washington state recently adopted tower safety worker rules – the third state in the nation to do so.

“North Carolina and Michigan also have telecommunication safety rules, but federal OSHA does not have comparable, specific regulations relating to communication tower work, according to L&I. “We hope our rules can serve as a model for other states to quickly stop these fully preventable worker fatalities,” Soiza said.”

 

News Roundup: Health Wonk Review and noteworthy news from around the web

Thursday, September 28th, 2017

A fresh Health Wonk Review is hot off the press and the word for the day is “fatigue.” The 3rd congressional attempt at Affordable Care Act repeal ground to a halt last week after it became apparent that there weren’t enough votes in the the Senate to get it over the finish line. Brad Wright hosts this week’s Health Wonk Review: Repeal Fatigue Edition at Wright on Health, with wonks weighing in. But if you don’t want to read about ACA, never fear – the wonks weigh in on other health policy issues, too.

Here’s some other recent news that caught our eye:

NCCI: The Marijuana Conversation: What’s Next – Medical marijuana is currently legal in 29 states, as well as Washington, DC. It’s also legal for recreational use in eight states and Washington, DC. However, marijuana is still illegal at the federal level and is classified as a Schedule I drug under the federal Controlled Substances Act. NCCI’s “Marijuana Conversations” series explores questions from workers compensation insurers, employers, employees, regulators, and legislators. Each face unique challenges, complexities, and implications.

MSHA – David Zatezalo, Trump’s nominee for assistant labor secretary in charge of the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration, is a former coal exec whose mines logged a “pattern of violations.” It raises more than a few uneasy hen-guarding-the-chicken-coop questions about his appointment. His latest critic? Manchin will oppose Trump mine safety nominee, as per Ken Ward Jr. at the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Dairy Workers: Suffocating in Manure – Jordon Barab of Confined Space talks about a recent Washington Post story on a truly horrific agricultural hazard, and just one of many. “There were 6,700 injuries on dairy farms with more than 11 employees in 2015 — a rate more than double the average for private industries. On those farms, 43 laborers died.” Barab notes that the article fails to mention that, “due to a 40 year old Congressional budget rider, OSHA is not allowed to set foot on farms that have ten or fewer employees. No inspections, even as a result of a worker complaint, and no investigation or citations, even if one or more workers is killed.”

Joe Paduda reports on a recent study by Princeton University’s Alan Krueger in his post at Managed Care Matters: Opioids responsible for a fifth of the decline in male workforce

Amid Opioid Crisis, Insurers Restrict Pricey, Less Addictive PainkillersNew York Time/Pro Publica

At a time when the United States is in the grip of an opioid epidemic, many insurers are limiting access to pain medications that carry a lower risk of addiction or dependence, even as they provide comparatively easy access to generic opioid medications.

The reason, experts say: Opioid drugs are generally cheap while safer alternatives are often more expensive.

Drugmakers, pharmaceutical distributors, pharmacies and doctors have come under intense scrutiny in recent years, but the role that insurers — and the pharmacy benefit managers that run their drug plans — have played in the opioid crisis has received less attention. That may be changing, however. The New York State attorney general’s office sent letters last week to the three largest pharmacy benefit managers — CVS Caremark, Express Scripts and OptumRx — asking how they were addressing the crisis.

Defending Against Cumulative Trauma – Roberto Ceniceros says that “Repetitive motion, or cumulative trauma injuries, stubbornly persist as generators of workers’ compensation claims and productivity losses year after year.” But remedies do exist – and he explores these in his article in Risk & Insurance.

Job loss due to medical care calendar vs. FMLA calendar – Dr. Jennifer Christian reminds physicians that they need to keep an eye in the calendar during worker recover, particularly in light of a recent court case.

Gig Economy Workers May See Benefits Relief – The Portable Benefits for Gig Economy Workers Act addresses a real need at a time when many people work in the gig economy and don’t have employer-provided benefits.

Quick takes

Fresh Health Wonk Review & a summer news roundup

Thursday, August 17th, 2017

Fresh Health Wonk Review! Looking for some beach reading? The wonks have you covered. Peggy Salvatore posts The Summer Lull Edition of Health Wonk Review at Health System Ed blog – catch up on what’s been happening in the last few weeks, from autopsies of the ACA repeal to where we go from here and assorted other health topics, the wonks have you covered – check it out.

man reading laptop on a beach

 

More summer reading:

Healthcare reform implications for work comp – Not included in this week’s HWR but a must-read nonetheless, in a two-part series at Managed Care Matters, Joe Paduda breaks down the likely implications for workers comp, Medicaid Expansion and more. Part one is linked above, and here is part 2.

They Got Hurt At Work — Then They Got Deported – Most workers comp laws have upheld workers comp for workers regardless of status: if the employer had the benefit of the labor and the worker is injured, generally comp will pay for those injuries. NPR looks at how that is changing and how some state laws are targeting undocumented workers.

Opt Out is Going to Return, and Why We Should Pay Attention – Think opt out was killed with the OK Supreme Court decision? At Bob’s Cluttered Desk, Bob Wilson talks about why that’s not likely and where the debate is going from here.

WCI 2017 – Miss the recent conference? Here are a few folks who have you covered: WCI has a good conference roundup and Conference Chronicles features good recaps of sessions.

Mourning writer Lizzie Grossman: The Pump Handle readers will miss her – We were sad to learn of Lizzie’s passing, a journalist and blogger who covered important environmental health issues. Her voice will be missed.

Quick Takes

 

In closing, Apparently, robots aren’t quite ready to take our jobs

Health Wonk Review on AHCA and other health policy matters

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

The secret Senate Republican gang of 12 finally came out from behind closed doors and Joe Paduda is on the case to help analyze the legislation that will have a profound impact on one-sixth of the nation’s economy. Joe’s posted a Double Edition of Health Wonk Review at Managed Care Matters, which includes a great roundup of health policy issues from our usual wonks, as well as a selection of posts and articles related to yesterday’s repeal & replace for the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. If you’re trying to make sense out of the AHCA and its potential impact, this post will help. If Republican leaders stick to their aggressive schedule of passing things before the July Fourth holiday, there’s not a lot of time to get up to speed!

Fresh Health Wonk Review and other news of note

Thursday, June 1st, 2017

Andrew Sprung has posted Alternative Facts, Alternative Realities Edition of Health Wonk Review at his blog, xpostfactoid. It includes various perspectives on the usual alphabet soup topics – AHCA, ACA, CBO – and a grab bag of other timely issues – California expansion, opiods treatment, end-of-life care, value tools in managed care and more.

Andrew is one of the newer contributors and hosts of HWR so be sure to check out his blog too. He’s been blogging on various issues since 2007, with a recent focus on “the unfolding drama of Affordable Care Act implementation and health reform more generally.” If following health policy is on your agenda, Andrew’s blog should be a must-read. Here’s a sampling:

And in other news we found noteworthy:

NCCI presentations – for those of us in workers comp, awaiting the spring NCCI reports is something like waiting for Santa. First is the NCCI’s State of the Line Highlights Key Indicators of the Workers Compensation Industry, widely regarded as the industry’s most extensive workers compensation market analysis. This year’s 57 page report is true to form. Here’s a headline – “As presented in this year’s State of the Line Report, the workers compensation Calendar Year 2016 combined ratio for private carriers was 94%. This is the second consecutive year the industry has posted a six-point underwriting gain. Total market net written premium volume remained steady between 2015 and 2016 at $45.5 billion.” But check out the rest of the report NCCI’s State of the Line Report (PDF) – a 57 page issue. Next up is NCCI’s Annual Issues Symposium (AIS), including videos and full presentations. Close your office door and catch up!

More research: Compounds in workers’ comp – Joe Paduda says: “CompPharma’s second research paper on compounds in workers’ comp was published last week. Authored by pharmacists and government affairs professionals from member PBMs, this paper builds on the ground-breaking research published in our first paper.”

More research: Returning to Work May Save Your Life – A recent study funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that in addition to fairly well-known negative outcomes, workers who suffer injuries that require days away from work are likely to die sooner than those who had injuries that required only medical treatment. Let’s take a look at this new study and then at some tips for getting your injured workers back to work faster.

More research: Workplace Injuries Are More Common When Companies Face Earnings Pressure

A fresh Health Wonk Review for your perusal

Thursday, May 18th, 2017

Jason Shafrin, our favorite Healthcare Economist, has posted a fresh collection of health policy punditry, the “I will build a great Health Wonk Review . . . and nobody builds Health Wonk Reviews better than me, believe me”  edition. Want the scoop on AHCA, national drug policy, pharma, bundled payments or other current topics in the policy arena? Check out this post. If you don’t follow the health arena on a daily basis, Heath Wonk Review is a great way to keep up with the important news.

If you are feeling particularly wonky or would like to follow back issues, got to Health Wonk Review’s home page.

 

Health Wonk Review: the Groundhog Zombie Goes Back to the Future Edition

Thursday, May 4th, 2017

 

It’s quite the day to be going to press with a new Health Wonk Review. We were trying to think of  a movie themed metaphor for today’s edition but can’t decide between Back to the Future, Groundhog Day or a zombie flick, so we’re going for a mashup.   Suspense is in the air as we await a vote later today on the revised AHCA. Or at least that’s what the media has been predicting as the bill suddenly sprang back to life late  yesterday after some arm twisting and deal sweetening in the corridors of power. One wonders what the hurry is since the Congressional Budget Office has not had sufficient time to weigh in and a quick vote would seem to violate the pledge of a minimum three-day public review. But maybe avoiding those pesky details are are seen as features not bugs. Our wonks submitted posts from the past week, so most were submitted before yesterday’s frantic hubbub of activity, yet still make trenchant observations about the revised bill. And of course, even though this topic is currently dominating the news, many of our wonks have healthcare observations on topics other than repeal-and-replace so if you are tired of the ongoing legislative goings on, read on.

Joe Paduda has kept an eye on the repeal & replace movement with his series of posts on the ACA deathwatch at Managed Care Matters. In his most recent post, he talks about flaws that plague the current bill and why it is destined to fail: ACA Deathwatch: No, AHCA is not going to pass Congress

At healthinsurance.org blog, Harold Pollack warns us to get ready for the uncomfortable questions with AHCA. Currently, an estimated 27 percent of American adults have been diagnosed with declineable preexisting conditions. Rollback of protections for those with pre-existing conditions means health insurers will again be rummaging through your health history.

Think the $8 billion that the revised AHCA bill earmarks for preexisting conditions solves that problem? Timothy Jost explains why that is unlikely at Health Affairs Blog.

One drum that Roy Poses of Health Care Renewal continues to beat (thankfully) is pointing out how health care organizations are increasingly run by a network of insiders who often put self-interest ahead of patients’ and the public’s health. As we head into today’s vote, he points out another vivid example: How Legislators rigged the repeal of the ACA to keep their own health insurance affordable.

Vincent Grippi points us to a post by Care Centrix CEO John Driscoll at The Homefront blog examining the recent struggle of the American Healthcare Act and highlighting why value-based care is an important part of the solution in his post Coal Mining Isn’t Coming Back and Neither is Fee-for-Service Medicine. It makes great points in light of recent congressional goings on.

Louise Norris of Colorado Health Insurance Insider looks at what’s next in Colorado for health care reform noting that, lately, it’s been a whirlwind. A bill to help out people over 400% of FPL just failed, disappointing many; there is uncertainty about Anthem BCBS staying in the exchange; insurers don’t have an exit clause if Cost Sharing Reduction funding is eliminated; rates will be filed late this year due to market uncertainty, and there is a bill to eliminate the exchange still in progress.

InsureBlog‘s Bob vineyard highlights the financial challenges of actually *paying* for even minor health care in his post Buddy, Can You Spare a Dime?

It’s tough being a cancer patient. New urgent care clinics designed specifically for cancer patients help ease the burden and could be a model for the rest of healthcare. David Williams of Health Business Blog talks about what distinguishes these clinics and wonders why such services aren’t available to all healthcare consumers.

Brad Flansbaum of The Hospital Leader has a challenge to physicians: How often do you ask this (ineffective) question? A recent study calls into question the effectiveness of a widely accepted practice.

Healthcare Economist Jason Shafrin looks at the hedonistic treadmill and asks if it works in reverse when it comes to acclimating to deteriorating health conditions. (Don’t know what the hedonistic treadmill is? We sure didn’t but it is our nomination for concept of the day). He cites an recent study on the topic.

Here at Workers Comp Insider, we recently commemorated Workers Memorial Day, a time remember those who were hurt or killed on the job. In conjunctions with that event, the National Council for Occupational Safety and Health issued The Dirty Dozen, highlighting employers who put workers and communities at risk due to unsafe working conditions.

Next up to bat: May 18, 2017 – Jason Shafrin – Healthcare Economist.

Fresh Health Wonk Review and other noteworthy news

Thursday, April 20th, 2017

It’s Health Wonk Review week and Brad Wright has a fresh, newsy, engaging issue posted over at Wright on Health, the Health Wonk Review: Who’s On First? Edition.

He grapples with health reform, alternative facts, and many other topics. To stay in the know in this dynamic climate, HWR is a great way to stay current on the changing landscape.

 

Here are a few other news items we’ve noted this week: 

In the “in case you missed it” department:

Quick takes

Freshly posted Health Wonk Review at InsureBlog

Friday, April 7th, 2017

Start your Friday with your morning beverage of choice and a fresh edition of Heath Wonk Review. Over at InsureBlog, Hank Stern has posted the Health Wonk Review: Pre-Passover edition. In his Twitter promo for this edition, he promises “Everything from horseradish to opioids” – you are probably not going to find too many insurance-related posts quite that eclectic!

In addition to wonks weighing in on RyanCare and the future of the ACA, other topics include opioids, physician burnout, the physician mission, price transparency, “the coding swindle” and more. Check it out!

We bring one post in particular to your attention – a post by HWR regular Brad Wright at his Wright on Health blog. He relates an up-close-and-personal encounter with the health care system, and reflects on his experience in the larger context of healthcare availability and accessibility.  Wonkery is all well and fine, but there is nothing quite like a personal testimonial to make a powerful impact. (Wishing you the best as you recover, Brad!)