Archive for the ‘News roundups’ Category

Fresh Health Wonk Review at medicareresources.org blog – check it out!

Friday, February 10th, 2017

Steve Anderson has posted the latest and greatest Health Wonk Review – the #alternative_facts Edition at medicareresources.org blog.

The Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) is not all that’s on our wonks’ minds of late, but it certainly takes up a huge portion of the mind share as evidenced by the plethora of related posts. We are a diverse crew, though, so there are also posts about a variety of other topics: the reaction to/impact of the immigration ban on healthcare industry, best cancer treatments, the process of healthcare M&As, legal liability in the form of class action suits for a data breach. and workers comp. One thing we find: the contributors are all very knowledgeable people – even if a topic is not on your radar, it’s a good way to learn something new.

Two posts we think are particularly worth calling out:

If ACA is repealed, how many will max out on restored lifetime coverage caps?

If ACA is repealed, how many are at risk of losing coverage by U.S. Congressional District? (Data covers 35 states)

Fresh Health Wonk Review posted at Joe’s place

Friday, January 27th, 2017

As we embark on the second week of a new administration, Joe Paduda has posted Health Wonk Review’s Inauguration Edition at Managed Care Matters. Rather unsurprisingly, the Affordable Care Act is much on the minds of the wonks, so there’s quite a few posts dealing with various aspects of repeal and replace.

Related to the topic of this week’s health wonkery, Joe also has a post on his blog about how the demise of the ACA would impact workers comp, specifically. A key quote:

“If ACA is repealed without a simultaneous and credible replacement, we may well see a rise in the number of workers without health insurance. The key issue to track is a cutoff of funding for Medicaid expansion – ACA added about 13 million more employed people to the insured rolls; if they lose coverage they’ll need a different payer to cover their injuries. Bad news for workers’ comp.”

And we’d point you to one other not-to-miss post at Managed Care Matters – Beware of Astroturf, the infuriating story of the American Pain Foundation, an pharma industry sponsored opioid-peddling outfit masquerading as a patient advocacy organization.

OSHA under President Trump: early signs

Wednesday, January 25th, 2017

We’re still awaiting an appointment to the Department of Labor under the Trump administration, so we don’t expect an Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) director to be named until after that. Right now, a hearing for the controversial Andrew Puzder as secretary of labor is scheduled for February 2. Part of the controversy related to the fast-food CEO revolves around numerous civil rights suits that his company has logged.

In the National Safety Council’s Safety + Health Tom Musick reports that legal experts are predicting significant changes for worker safety regulation under the new administration in his article OSHA under Trump: A closer look.

Here’s a summary of the article’s key points:

  • Labor-law experts predict that OSHA will move away from an enforcement-based strategy and toward compliance assistance and cooperative programs for employers.
  • OSHA’s funding could decrease, and the way it spends its funds also could change if Trump limits the agency’s enforcement budget.
  • Recent regulations such as the injury and illness recordkeeping rule, the silica rule and the so-called “blacklisting rule” all could be in jeopardy under the Trump administration.

For another take at the crystal ball, Russell Carr has issued two in three-part series of articles on potential changes at EHS Today. Carr comes from the perspective of an owner of an environmental, health and safety consulting business.

In looking at changes that may be in store for OSHA and other regulatory agencies, it’s instructive to look at the broader context of some steps that have been taken early in the new administration.

Hiring freeze

On his first day in office, President Trump issued a hiring freeze on non-military federal employees and, at least for some departments, on grants and contracts.

“President Donald Trump’s hiring freeze will last only as long as it takes his administration to come up with an alternative attrition plan, according to a memorandum released by the White House Monday, and could provide broad exemptions for agency leaders.

Trump said his hiring moratorium would “be applied across the board in the executive branch” and apply to any positions vacant as of Jan. 22. It would bar agencies from creating new positions. Agency heads can exempt positions they deem “necessary to meet national security or public safety responsibilities.”

The hiring freeze is expected to be a precursor to federal job cuts of as much as 20% in some departments and was issued to counter “the dramatic expansion of the federal workforce in recent years.” An article at Government Executive points out that there has been no federal workforce expansion and that “employment by the federal government as share of all US employment is relatively low compared to most of the last 70 years.”

Opponents to the freeze point to several potential unintended consequences: Trump’s Federal Hiring Freeze May Kill Hundreds of Jobs for Nurses, Scientists and Engineers

Unions and veterans groups say the federal hiring freeze would make the government less efficient, and make it harder for the US military personnel to find jobs when they leave the service. (About a third of all federal hires are military veterans, although if they’re working security positions, for example, they may not be affected).

The freeze could also take off the table thousands of well-paying jobs for US citizens with higher education and specific skills.

Federal employees have other reasons to feel pressure, among them the recent reinstatement of the Holman Rule: House Republicans revive obscure rule that allows them to slash the pay of individual federal workers to $1:

The Holman Rule, named after an Indiana congressman who devised it in 1876, empowers any member of Congress to propose amending an appropriations bill to single out a government employee or cut a specific program.

The use of the rule would not be simple; a majority of the House and the Senate would still have to approve any such amendment. At the same time, opponents and supporters agree that the work of 2.1 million civil servants, designed to be insulated from politics, is now vulnerable to the whims of elected officials.

Information lockdown – temporary or a sign of things to come?

There’s always a level of anxiety in the federal workforce when a new administration takes the reins, but one other issue has been causing a level of discomfort among employees. Numerous news reports reveal an information crackdown on staff in various federal agencies, from the the Environmental Protection Agency to Departments of Agriculture, Health & Human Services, and the Interior. In its article Trump clamps down on federal agencies, The Hill reports:

It’s not unusual for incoming administrations to seek control over agency communications, especially at the outset, when Cabinet secretaries aren’t in place.

But experts on the federal workforce say they have never seen a White House take the type of steps Trump’s administration has to curb public communications.

Restrictions are reported to include press releases, photos, tweets, speaking engagements, fact sheets, news feeds, and more. See a related story at Politico: Information lockdown hits Trump’s federal agencies. Hopefully, this will be short-term in nature, but one that we will be watching – by early indicators, it doesn’t seem as though an open “sunlight” approach to communications will be a core value of this administration.  if we were putting money on it, we’d bet that it’s just a matter of time until OSHA’s recordkeeping rule is toast, particularly in light of pending lawsuits challenging the rule and Trump’s recent promise to roll back regulations by somewhere int he order of 70-80%.

See our prior post:  Reading the tea leaves: The Trump administration and OSHA

 

Health Wonk Review: The “words matter” edition

Thursday, January 12th, 2017

obamacare

 

Words matter. Right now, for good or bad, as the torch is being passed from one president to new one, one of the key platforms that PEOTUS ran on was eliminating Obamacare. But as the reality of that potential grows closer, social media is abuzz with debates. It would appear that some people didn’t fully understand what they signed up for. Going viral on Facebook, a poster celebrates the demise of Obamacare, patting himself on the back that he had the good sense to go with the Affordable Care Act instead. This person is not alone – witness the Twitter poster who berates Senator Murray: “Why don’t you shut up Murry. Stop Crying. You lost. We won. We are repleaing Obamacare, not the ACA.” We could post more examples, but you get the point. Polls have repeatedly demonstrated that words matter – the healthcare law is viewed much more favorably as the ACA than as Obamacare.  And a number of insureds don’t realize they are one and the same.  We may soon have the dubious privilege of learning how widespread this confusion is.

Wendell Potter also thinks words matter, and opines that poor communication was among the factors that got us to this point of repeal/replace. At healthinsurance.org blog, he says that “lazy, superficial reporting” – and poor communication from the Obama administration and Congressional Democrats – has kept most Americans in the dark about how repeal of Obamacare would affect them. Potter runs down a list of the health coverage problems Americans faced before ACA implementation … as a preview of the problems that the GOP will resurrect if they can repeal the law. Check out Back from the Future. (A sequel we’ll all hate.)

At Managed Care Matters, Joe Paduda tries to clear up some of the miscommunication with a Q&A aimed right at the insured. Joe has been engaged in a series of posts aptly titled ACA Deathwatch. In his most recent post, he tackles what ACA repeal will mean to the consumer in a basic Q&A format. He looks at post-repeal life under replacement plans, tackling issues like what will happen to your cost, will pre-existing conditions be covered, will plans be inclusive of all conditions, etc.

At Health Affairs Blog, Joe Antos and Jim Capretta look at the The Problems with “Repeal and Delay”, warning that the most likely end result of repeal and delay would be less secure insurance for many Americans and procrastination by political leaders. They lay out the possible legislative scenario that this would follow and document the problems:

“To build a functioning marketplace, and to provide a ready path for all Americans to get health insurance, it is necessary to put together a coherent series of policies across Medicaid, employer-sponsored insurance, and the non-group insurance market. A workable plan will necessarily touch on all of these areas, and will be lengthy and politically contentious. That may not be ideal from a political perspective, but the alternative is incoherence and half-measures that will lead to a system that many Americans will view as worse than the ACA status quo.”

At Colorado Health Insurance Insider, Jay Norris offers a street level view of the level of scrutiny that all things ACA have been under in his post Connect for Health Colorado and the OIG Audit Report. Apparently, the Office of Inspector General (OIG) released an audit report (the full report is here) regarding Connect for Health Colorado’s use of federal start-up funding. This funding was provided for state-run exchanges to get their operations up and running in 2013 and 2014. A poorly worded title on the front page of the report, combined with clumsy explanations in the report gave the media and anti-ACA folks a lot to complain about. Jay dissects the details, asking whether at least some of this falls under the much ado about nothing category.

Of course, not everyone is a fan of Obamacare or we wouldn’t be engaged in these political brouhahas in the first place. In a post entitled Flatline at InsureBlog, Patrick Paule “pulls back the curtain on the fiasco known as Open Enrollment v4.0. Disappointing!”

We do have at least a few entries that aren’t focused on the fate of the Affordable Care Act.

At Health Care Renewal Blog, Roy Poses looks at Dr. Tom Price and finds him wanting, in his post Follow the Money: Nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services Traded Health Care Stocks and Owned Tobacco Stocks While in Congress. For the uninitiated, Roy is a longtime critic and caller-outer of conflicts of interest as they relate to physicians – something that he as a physician himself is fairly passionate about. He finds the current HHS nominee a little too cozy with big pharma, biotech, device companies and health insurers. But that’s just the least of what Dr. Roy finds objectionable … read up so you can be informed and ready for Tom Price’s cabinet hearing schnduled for January 18.

At Health Business Blog, David Williams says that concierge medicine is well-established in primary care, and now it’s coming to the specialties, too. Concierge pioneer Wayne Lipton explains how the “hybrid” model works and how primary care and specialty practices differ: Concierge Cardiology: podcast interview with Wayne Lipton.

At HealthBlawg, David Harlow ponders whether “Big Data” is too big to analyze productively – reasonable minds may differ. David draws some interesting analogies and concludes that computing power has indeed caught up with our data-generation runaway train. See: Of Borges and Big Data, Or: Is Big Data Too Big?

At Heatlh System Ed Blog, Peggy Salvatore finds bright spots for healthcare in the future, noting that no matter how the economy or politics turn, there are a few constants where people can have some control. Technological advances and wellness movements can help improve national health without increasing the cost of healthcare. See Healthcare’s Future: Population Health and Information Technology.

At The Healthcare Guys, Abhinav Shashank says that as eventful as last year was for the healthcare industry, expect a lot of surprises are in 2017, too. He cites the 21st Century Cures Act and MACRA as transformational legislation, and looks at potential trends and issues we are likely to see in the coming year. See: Healthcare 2017: What Does the New Year Have in Store?

At Healthcare Economist, Jason Shafrin brings us a great video short which reviews a recent publication in JAMA that details health care spending: Health Care Spending is Complicated.

Here at Workers Comp Insider, we forgo our own submission (OK, we’ve been goofing off in the new year) in favor of a post from our friends and colleagues at Work Comp Psych Net. We realize that workers comp is just a sliver of the overall healthcare budget, but we find it an important segment, dealing as it does with the health and safety of American workers. One thing that differs in the occupational arena is healthcare treatment is always working to an outcome, ideally a successful recovery and return to work after a work-related injury or illness. Mental health issues are often  impediments to a smooth recoveries because they are so often not factored in at all. Work Comp Psych Net sheds a light on progress in this area in the post Psychosocial Issues And How To Deal With Them.

Soapbox: As bloggers, we all enjoy speaking our mind.  As political discourse grows increasingly heated, we think it’s worth  this short PSA: Support the First Amendment and freedom of the press. Journalism isn’t free.  You can purchase great editorial cartoons like the one we use in this post at cagle.com. We’d also encourage supporting the Committee to Protect Journalists with donations. Journalists die for that freedom we enjoy.

Next issue: Jan. 25, 2017 – Joe Paduda – Managed Care Matters

2016 in Review: Workers Comp, Risk Management & More

Tuesday, January 3rd, 2017

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2016 was both a hair-on-fire and a pants-on-fire kind of year – so much so that the Oxford Dictionary chose “post truth” as its Word of the Year. In case you’ve been buried in a crypt this year or on a desert island (and who could blame you?) here’s an explanation of how they arrived at that choice. Strangely, “fake news” didn’t even make their list, but you can read the runners up.  You shouldn’t find much in the way of fake news here in our post today – we’re looking at key workers comp, insurance and related stories for 2016 – along with a few predictions  for the upcoming year.

First, a look back at the news of 2016

Business Insurance: Most popular workers compensation and safety stories of 2016

Business Insurance: The BI Top 10 of 2016

Insurance Journal: Top 12 Insurance Trends and News Stories of 2016: Countdown

SHRM: Top 5 Risk Management Articles for 2016

Safety News Alert: Top workers’ comp cases of 2016 Part 1: The issues and Top workers’ comp cases of 2016 Part 2: Unique circumstances

DOL Blog: Top 10 OSHA Citations of 2016: A Starting Point for Workplace Safety

OSHA: Worker Fatalities Reported to Federal and State OSHA

Safety News Alert: Top 10 OSHA stories of 2016

Paduda: 2016 predictions – how’d I do?

EHS Today: America’s Top 10 Safest Companies Awards

WorkCompWire: Leaders Speak: 2016 Year in Review

Workerscompensation.com CA Dept of Industrial Relations Releases 2016 Legislative Digest With Overview of New Laws

Claims Journal’s Top 10 Legal Articles of 2016

Terms + Conditions: Top 10 Posts of 2016

Fierce Healthcare: 5 notable physician practice headlines in 2016

Heath Affairs: The Most-Shared Health Affairs Articles of 2016

Medgadget’s Best Medical Technologies of 2016

Insurance Journal: Top 10 ‘Most Ridiculous’ Lawsuits of 2016: Chamber of Commerce

Human Resource Executive: Top HR Stories of 2016

HR Morning: Top 10 biggest HR stories of 2016

HR Daily Advisor: Top 20 HR Strange But True Stories for 2016, Part 1 and Part 2

III: Insurance Industry Employment Trends: 1990-2016 

Insurance News Net: ‘Rotten Apples’ Kept Authorities Busy In 2016

PropertyCasualty360: 9 fraudsters join the 2016 Insurance Hall of Shame

Looking ahead to 2017

Is it just us or is the world a little too volatile right now for the usual torrent of predictions for the coming year? Here are a few intrepid folks who step out into the abyss:

Paduda: Whither Workers’ Comp in 2017 — Part I and Part II

Risk & Insurance: 2017 Insurance Executives to Watch

Risk & Insurance: Next-Level Solutions for 2017

Occupational Health & Safety Magazine: Looking Ahead to 2017 Automation Trends and Impacts

LinkedIn: The Freelance Economy: Top Trends to Watch in 2017

CBS News: Tech trends to watch in 2017

Bloomberg: The Pessimist’s Guide to 2017

Of general interest

New Yorker: The Five Biggest Business Stories of 2016

USA Today: Trump, turmoil: The top 10 business stories of 2016

Dave Barry’s Year in Review: 2016 — What the … ?

76 of Donald Trump’s many campaign promises

TSA’s Top 10 Most Unusual Finds: 2016 (Video)

The Atlantic: Second Helpings: 2016’s Underappreciated Science, Tech, and Health Stories

Longreads: Best of 2016: Business & Tech Reporting

New York Times: The Year in Pictures

Google: See what was trending in 2016

Twitter #ThisHappened in 2016

 

Health Wonk Review & other news worth noting

Friday, December 2nd, 2016

 

Many folks are still trying to understand the potential impact of the recent election and our health wonks are no exception. Hank Stern hosts this week’s edition at InsureBlog, and in aiming for a palate cleanser, he chooses a soothing theme: Health Wonk Review: Puppies and Kittens edition. Despite the soft veneer, there’s a lot to chew on. Unsurprisingly, the future of the Affordable Care Act aka Obamacare is much on the minds of the wonks. Check it out!

A few other new items that recently caught our attention:

OSHA’s reporting rule is on target – for those who were hoping for an injunction in implementing OSHA’s reporting rule, no luck. A Texas judge denied the injunction. Attorney Matthew C. Cooper has the legal scoop at National Law Review: OSHA Reporting Rule Now In Effect – Injunction Request Denied. Sandy Smith at EHS offers more on what the ruling means where the rubber meets the road: Are You Ready for Recordkeeping? Last Hurdle To Implementation Removed

Undocumented workers – In Business Insurance, Joyce Famakinwa reports on another legal ruling:
Comp benefit cap for undocumented workers struck down:

“A limit on workers compensation benefits for undocumented workers is unconstitutional because it prevents them from being eligible for the same comp benefits afforded to legally employed workers in the state, the Tennessee Supreme Court says.”

Traumatic brain injuries – The Sun-Sentinal reports that Former NFL players file civil suit asking NFL to recognize brain injury disease for workers’ comp:

Retired athletes from South Florida are trying to make the National Football League recognize a traumatic brain disease — linked to repeated head injuries — as an occupational hazard that would be covered by workers’ compensation.
Lawyers for the former NFL players filed a lawsuit Monday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale against the league and NFL teams, including the Miami Dolphins, on behalf of more than 140 retired players who may have chronic traumatic encephalopathy, known as CTE.

Also ee Andrew Simpson’s report in Insurance Journal: NFL Players with CTE Sue to Force Teams to Pay Workers’ Compensation Benefits

Trump’s Cabinet – Joan Lowy and Jonathan Lemire of Insurance Journal look at Elaine Chao’s past record as labor secretary under President George W. Bush and how it might impact her approach as head of transportation in Trump’s Transportation Chief’s Record Signals Slowdown in Safety Regulation:

Among the pressing issues facing the next transportation secretary will be how to boost the nation’s aging infrastructure so that it can accommodate population growth and not become a drag on the economy, modernizing the nation’s air traffic control system, ensuring that new transportation technologies are adopted in a safe manner and responding to a surge in traffic fatalities.

Whether it’s integrating drones into the national airspace, deploying self-driving cars or “some other new technology, she’s not going to be especially inclined to second-guess the industry when they say that this will be safe,” McGarity said.

Healthcare CEOs Opine on the ACA – Harris Meyer of Modern Healthcare reports on a recent survey in CEO Power Panel: No repeal without replace

Healthcare CEOs, Paulus among them, are willing to consider Trump’s healthcare reform ideas. But they have strong concerns about whether his plan would match the ACA’s performance in expanding coverage and slashing the uninsured rate to less than 9%, according to Modern Healthcare’s post-election Power Panel survey, which got responses from 93 of 123 CEOs contacted. Leaders of large hospitals and health systems are disproportionately represented on the panel, but the participants also include CEOs of insurers, suppliers and technology companies, as well as associations representing sectors across the industry.
Beyond the ACA, the CEOs surveyed stressed the need for action to curb the growth of prescription drug prices, with 60% saying that should be a top priority for the new administration and Congress.

Brave new world: Robots Are Growing Tons of Our Food. Here’s the Creepy Part. – Tom Philpott, Mother Jones

“You don’t see self-driving cars taking over American cities yet, but robotic tractors already roar through our corn and soybean farms, helping to plant and spray crops. They also gather huge troves of data, measuring moisture levels in the soil and tracking unruly weeds. Combine that with customized weather forecasts and satellite imagery, and farmers can now make complex decisions like when to harvest—without ever stepping outside.”

Quick takes

Reading the tea leaves: The Trump administration and OSHA

Wednesday, November 30th, 2016

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Employers are in a state of limbo between one presidential administration and another, trying to intuit the potential impact as potential names of candidates for the  cabinet and key administrative posts are floated, debated and named. Much is still in the realm of speculation.

One thing is becoming clear: Despite the ambiguity that Trump’s recent comments about possibly preserving some parts of Obamacare, it’s clearly on the chopping block. Any doubts were laid to rest in naming Representative Tom Price of Georgia as the secretary of Health and Human Services. An orthopedic surgeon, Price is an ardent foe of the ACA. He is likely to set his sights on Medicare and Medicaid,  too.

But what of other workplace issues? A key indicator will be naming a prospective Secretary for the Department of Labor. Several names have been floated, but as of this writing, no definitive pick has been named. PA congressman Lou Barletta has been cited by many as leading the pack of those under consideration – there are some reports that he has been offered the position, but no confirmation yet. Other possible contenders include Andy Puzder, CEO of CKE Restaurants (parent company of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s) and Victoria Lipnic, a commissioner on the Equal Employment and Opportunities Commission and former assistant labor secretary under George W. Bush. Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s name has also been raised by some, a selection that would be chilling to labor unions.

At EHS Today, Sandy Smith offers a not-to-be-missed insider view of Transitioning to a Trump Administration: What It Could Mean for the Department of Labor and OSHA.

Her article offers informed perspective by Former Assistant Secretary of Labor Edwin G. Foulke Jr., who spearheaded OSHA under George W. Bush. He also was the chair of Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) during the transition from George H. Bush to Bill Clinton.

Foulke talks about the immediate process, offering a detailed look at the steps and timeline involved in the transition. He also offers his thoughts on what labor and OSHA issues he expects that the Trump administration will revisit. Here are the items he lists, but click through for the details.

  • Walking-Working Surfaces Standard
  • Respirable Silica Standard
  • Recording and Reporting Occupational Injuries and Illnesses
  • Whistleblower Statutes
  • Increased OSHA Penalties
  • OSHA Enforcement
  • Non-Company Personnel Participation in OSHA Inspections
  • Restroom Access for Transgender Workers
  • Compliance Assistance
  • Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces
  • The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission

For another take on this, labor and employment law attorney Mark S. Kittaka also looks at Trump’s Potential Impact on OSHA in an article in the National Law Review. Kittaka rehashes some of Trump’s stated priorities and notes that,

“Even without changing a single regulation, Trump could simply limit OSHA’s enforcement ability by cutting their budget. This was a tactic used by President Ronald Reagan and with a Republican majority in both the House and Senate, this is a distinct possibility.”

He identifies the following areas as likely to come under scrutiny:

  • Electronic Recordkeeping/Non-Discrimination Provisions
  • Recordkeeping as a Continuing Violation
  • Silica
  • Interpretation Letters

In other news, CNN reports that Trump will tap billionaire Wilbur Ross for Commerce secretary, As the administration’s chief business advocate, he’s the type of appointment Trump promised: a non-politican executive from the business community. Ross would be expected to help Trump reshape global trade and revive steel and coal, both industries in which he has experience.

But in coal industry, there were some problems. According to CNN:

Ross’s foray into the coal industry, however, ran into trouble in January 2006 when 12 miners were killed after an explosion at the Sago Mine in West Virginia. His company, the International Coal Group, had taken over the mine a couple months earlier.

According to federal reports, the mine had recorded 96 safety violations in 2005 that were deemed “serious and substantial.” The mine was fined nearly $134,000, an amount later reduced in court.

Read another profile of Ross from our go-to coal industry expert, reporter Ken Ward Jr., who speculated about a potential Ross appointment on his Coal Tattoo blog earlier in the month. Ward notes

“It is worth pointing out that if he got either the Commerce or Treasury slot, Ross would not be in charge of coal mine safety and health regulation for the Trump administration. Folks who are concerned about those issues would obviously be better off watching to see who President-elect Trump makes Secretary of Labor — and then who exactly is chosen to by Assistant Secretary of Labor for Mine Safety and Health.”

The election’s impact on health care: ACA, workers comp, Medicare

Monday, November 14th, 2016

Joe Paduda posted a roundup of opinions on the results of last week’s election, with contributors sharing their thoughts on how the GOP’s sweep will affect health care, health reform, and the health care system: The election’s impact on health care – experts opine.

Before wading in to the fray, Joe reminds us that health care accounts for one-sixth of our GDP, and that it is an incredibly complex, deeply entrenched business.

Joe is a brave man with his crystal ball. Also on his blog, today he takes a look at Trump and workers’ comp. Last week, he offered his initial take on TrumpCare.

Over the weekend, we learn that Paul Ryan plans to phase out Medicare in 2017. Ryan says “What people don’t realize is because of Obamacare, medicare is going broke, medicare is going to have price controls because of Obamacare, medicaid is in fiscal straits.” His proposed “phase in” is contemplated as part of the plan to repeal Obamacare.

Josh Marshall notes:

First, Ryan claims that Obamacare has put Medicare under deeper financial stress. Precisely the opposite is true. And it’s so straightforward Ryan unquestionably knows this. The Affordable Care Act actually extended Medicare’s solvency by more than a decade. Ryan’s claim is flat out false.

Second, I’ve heard a few people say that it’s not 100% clear here that Ryan is calling for Medicare Phase Out. It is 100% clear. Ryan has a standard, openly enunciated position in favor of Medicare Phase Out. It’s on his website. It’s explained explicitly right there.

People voted for change, but it’s not clear that they contemplated a private Medicare system as part of that change.

Pre-election Health Wonk Review & other news of note

Friday, November 4th, 2016

Brad Wright has a super excellent edition of Health Wonk Review: The Game 7 of Politics Edition. His post skillfully ties two of America’s favorite and most contentious pastimes together: sports and politics. Many good entries from the web’s best health wonks: the ACA, the rigged healthcare system, the Internet of Things and more – check it out.

… and in other news that caught our attention:

Drug spend is down by 8.7% – according to CompPharma’s 13th Annual Survey of Prescription Drug Management in Workers’ Compensation. “Payers credited tighter clinical management, better integration with their pharmacy benefit managers, and prescriber interventions for the decrease. All have opioid management programs to limit the number of initial opioid prescriptions and/or decrease morphine equivalents across as many claims as medically appropriate.”

Will Zika be a work comp issue?
That’s an issue being raised by two Miami Beach police who believe their illness was work related. One cop “…was originally granted workers’ compensation, only for the city to yank it away from her days later. The other officer was denied outright.” Their union is going to bat for them. Union Says Miami Beach Cops Caught Zika on Duty, But City Won’t Pay Their Bills

Injury rates are plummeting, insurance premium rates are flat or dropping, medical costs are down as well. Joe Paduda talks about what’s really happening in workers’ comp.

If I knew then: Conference Chronicles offers Lessons Learned from Retiring Insurance Executives, a panel at the 2016 PCI Annual Meeting.

Roberto Ceniceros offers kudos to employers who are building injured-worker advocacy programs.

At Working Immigrants, Peter Rousmaniere keeps us up-to-date about demographics and trends. His latest post of note offers a perspective on the Hispanic vote on November 8.

Quick takes

Health Wonk Review and other noteworthy news

Friday, October 21st, 2016

Check out the latest and greatest Health Wonk Review Election Edition – Mama Says Eat Your Peas and Don’t Forget to Vote. Peggy Salvatore hosts this pre-election edition at Health System Ed blog and while there are several posts related to policy issues are play in the election, there are several other posts too – check it out!

And while on the topic of elections, marijuana legalization is on the ballot in 5 states this election. The states are populous enough that if all were to be approved, the laws would encompass about one quarter of the US population – critical mass for federal legislation? There are also four states with ballot measures to approve medical marijuana. Russell Berman writes about all this in the Atlantic: Marijuana’s Moment.

Must-read: If you haven’t yet read Joe Paduda’s 2-part series on customer service in workers comp, you need to go there now. In part 1, he makes the case that case that customer service functions must be handled internally; in part 2, he offers a case study demonstrating that it’s not about your company’s metrics, cost structure, or “efficiency”, it’s ALL about your customer.

Opiod News from a recent KHN Morning Briefing: The pharmaceutical industry has taken to treating secondary symptoms of opioid abuse with more pills. Meanwhile, even as the U.S. tries to regulate the trade of chemicals used to make fentanyl, a new, extremely potent drug is hitting the streets.

Other noteworthy news