Archive for the ‘News roundups’ Category

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

Health Wonk Review; Paduda’s Pre-election Pundit Ponderings

Tuesday, October 11th, 2016

A fresh Health Wonk Review was posted at the tail end of last week – Pre-election Pundit Ponderings. Joe Paduda is the host at Managed Care Matters. It covers a wide range of topics, including various aspects of the ACA, the exchanges, Medicare expansion, pharma costs, and more. Plus Joe points to a new workers comp blog: Good News Work Comp Blog.

While you’re over at Joe’s blog, we point you to his important series of posts that you shouldn’t miss:

Finally, just in case the election is getting you down, we offer a little bit lighter take on things from the hilarious “Bad Lips Reading” folks:


A 10 year anniversary Health Wonk Review & more noteworthy news

Thursday, September 22nd, 2016

It’s Health Wonk Review week! Louise and Jay Norris host a special edition at Colorado Health Insurance – not only is it a mere 46 days to the next election so that has the wonkers opining – it is also the 10th blogging anniversary for the hosting blog – The “We’re Ten!” Edition of the Health Wonk Review. There are great entries from both the usual subjects and some fresh faces. Louise is a great host, framing everything nicely. Congratulations on 10 years of blogging, Louise & Jay. *clinks champagne glass*

More news of note

Just by way of coincidence, September is our birthday month here at Work Comp Insider, too – we launched in 2003! That makes us a grizzled old timer in Internet time.

Oklahoma and opt out– in case you missed it, the Oklahoma Supreme Court Ruled Workers’ Comp Opt-Out Unconstitutional:

Justice Watt, in the Court’s highly anticipated written decision, said the OWCC previously found the Opt Out Act: “1) constituted an unconstitutional special law; 2) denied equal protection to Oklahoma’s injured workers; and 3) denied injured workers the constitutionally protected right of access to courts.”

And the high court agreed, finding that the core provision of the Act “creates impermissible, unequal disparate treatment of a select group of injured workers.”

The PCI and AIA were quick to applaud the decision. Joe Paduda hopes this is the end to what he sees as the pointless debate about Opt-Out (we hope so too). Bob Wilson looks at some of the loose ends in the wake of this decision.

Psych indicators – Most of us in the industry are pretty familiar with triggers or warning signs that would indicate an accident investigation or the need for early medical intervention — but perhapsare  less familiar with indicators that might signal the need for a psychological evaluation. Our friends at Work Comp Psych Net have posted a handy reference list of Predictive Psychosocial Triggers For Workers’ Compensation Claims.

Obesity’s toll on WC – A new study in the September Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine shows that obese and overweight workers are more likely to incur high costs related to workers’ compensation claims for major injuries;

But for workers with major injuries, high BMI was associated with higher workers’ compensation costs. In this group, costs averaged about $470,000 for obese and $270,000 for overweight workers, compared to $180,000 for normal-weight workers.

After adjustment for other factors—including high-cost spinal surgeries or injections—obese or overweight workers with major injuries were about twice as likely to incur costs of $100,000 or higher. Body mass index had no effect on costs for closed claims or for less-severe injuries.

Safety Culture Does Not Exist!  – This is a half-hour podcast interview with Dr. Edgar Schein, Professor at MIT Sloan School of Management. Well worth a listen. We weren’t aware of this podcast series and it looks great: The Pre Accident Podcast is an ongoing discussion of Human Performance, Systems Safety, & Safety Culture. The Dr. Schein interview is the #88th edition!

Speaking of safety …. It’s Farm Safety & Health Week from September 18-24.

More news of note

New Back to School Daze Health Wonk Review and more news of note

Thursday, September 8th, 2016

It’s back to school and back to business. And it’s 60 days until the election! David Williams curates an excellent season debut issue: Health Wonk Review: Back to School Daze – check it out. There’s a little bit of everything: opioids, epi-pens, ACA, health care tech – check it out!

A few other things that caught our interest lately:

Related and upcoming: September 13 noon-1:30 pm Helping Workers Keep Their Jobs After an Injury, Illness, or Disability – the event will take place in DC and online.

Kudos to insurance web pioneer Bob Wilson on 17 years of  – really, what foresight! Read his thoughts at  Social Media, an Anniversary and Reflections. We’re a few year behind him at 14 year this month.

August Health Wonk Review at Healthcare Economist

Thursday, August 18th, 2016

Health Wonk Review is on an abbreviated summer schedule – if you’ve missed your biweekly fix, the August edition is up: Jason Shafrin has posted Health Wonk Review: Short and Sweet Edition at Healthcare Economist. It’s a great edition – catch up on the policy news!

For more summer reading:

Our friends at Work Comp Psych Net have a helpful post offering guidance on when adjusters should refer claims for mental health evaluations.

Joe Paduda explains why Trump will be GREAT for workers’ comp!

HR Director Reminds Employees That Any Crying Done At Office Must Be Work-Related

Employer toolkit for the Zika virus

Insurers Offer Advice to Flood Victims in Southeast

From Risk & Insurance: In Support of Monitoring and Legislation to Collateralize Workers’ Comp

We were saddened to see the recent closure of Business Insurance and offer sincere thanks to the the many editors and writers who kept us informed over the decades. The editorial staff at Business Insurance have long been recognized as top tier so it’s a true loss to our industry!

The GB Journal: Pithy, Trenchant and Chock Full Of Stuff You Can Use

Thursday, August 11th, 2016

In March of this year, friend and colleague Dr. Gary Anderberg, Senior VP of Claim Analytics for Gallagher Bassett Services, had another one of his good ideas: Publish concise and useful information for risk managers who don’t have a lot of spare time to wade through oodles of research. In Gary’s words:

The basic purpose of The GB Journal is to keep our clients informed on new developments that impact WC, A/L, G/L and property coverages. The idea is that most risk managers are more than a little pressed for time, so a neat synopsis with a link or two for those interested in more details, will be helpful. We also see this as a neat vehicle for generating useful conversations between our account managers and our clients concerning important issues. I try to keep the average item to about 350 to 400 words and no more than three items per issue. That’s no more than five minutes of reading time total.

And presto, his GB Journal was born.

GB 11 August

I love the tagline: We deal in conclusions, not opinions.

Gary says the Journal is for clients of GB, but anyone can subscribe. He’s the sole author and publishes every other Thursday. The current issue summarizes the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute’s recent analysis of eight state’s attempts to curb physician in-office dispensing and discusses the new term of the day, BoT – Burden of Treatment.

At the Insider, for years we’ve been doing something similar when Julie Ferguson posts her News Of Note, but we have no set schedule for that and don’t limit it to three items. Gary’s approach is different, but certainly worthwhile and effective.

I like what Gary is doing. It’s good for GB’s business, but it’s also good for the workers’ compensation community at large. If you’re not already a subscriber, I recommend you become one.


New Health Wonk Review, a Yuuuuuuuge Edition and other news of note

Friday, July 22nd, 2016

The Health Wonkers have been on an abbreviated summer schedule, but Steve Anderson at blog has posted a July edition that is not to be missed: Health Wonk Review for July 21, 2016, the Yuuuuuuuge Edition. It’s got a little bit of everything from Obamacare to opioids — including a look ahead at health expenditure projections and hospitals of the next decade. Catch up on your health policy wonkery!

As long as we’re posting, here are a few other noteworthy news items that caught our eye recently:

Not to be missed: Here’s an essential post to bookmark: Workers’ comp fast facts from Joe Paduda. Great info.

Please respond & share: Yonatan Ben-Shalom is Senior Researcher at Mathematica Policy Research and Project Director of the Stay At Work / Return To Work (SAW/RTW) Collaborative. He puts our a call for ideas: How can states help workers keep their jobs after injury, illness, or disability? This is part of the U.S. Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy’s Stay-at-Work/Return-to-Work Policy Collaborative. Offer your thoughts on 1) Which state agencies are in the best position to help workers keep their jobs after an injury, illness, or disability? and 2) What specific types of strategies can these agencies consider?

Pharmaceuticals report: WCRI has new studies on the Impact of Reforms on Physician Dispensing in various states. Get the scoop at WorkCompWire.

Food for thought: Dr. Jennifer Christian has a thoughtful post on Why we need a 1:1 ratio of healers to lawyers when designing reforms for “comp”

State of the industry: The U.S. property/casualty (P/C) industry’s workers’ compensation line generated a significant profit in 2015, according to a new report from Fitch Ratings.

2016 DMEC Annual Conference: Roberto Ceniceros talks about benefits integration and effective wellness strategies in Reaping the Rewards of Benefits Integration.

Prevention Opportunity: 16 percent of nonfatal workplace injuries or illnesses occurred from midnight to 8 a.m. in 2014.

Crisis on the job: Reflections by a Dallas police officer

Quick takes

Today’s must-read at Health Affairs Blog

Thursday, June 16th, 2016


Get your health policy reading while it’s hot: Chris Fleming has posted A Pot Luck Health Wonk Review at Health Affairs Blog. The biweekly best of the health policy blogosphere usually includes many posts of interest – but this week’s edition seems particularly varied. Maybe because the health wonkers are going to take a bit of a summer hiatus – after this issue, we’ll only be up once a month in the summer, so get your fill of wonkery now.

If you are interested in health care news, then the Health Affairs Blog should be top of your reading list. It’s an adjunct of the prestigious Health Affairs, a  peer-reviewed journal of health policy thought and research. The blog regularly features commentary and analysis from noted health policy experts from a wide variety of perspectives, as well as regular Health Affairs contributors and staff. Health Affairs Blog has been cited in congressional testimony and by members of Congress. Media outlets that have cited the Blog include The New York Times, Washington Post, Forbes, National Journal, Reuters, and many others.

Please join us for a HWR Blab (video conversation / text chat), Health Wonk Review On Air With HealthBlawg Tuesday, 06/21/2016 at 1:00 pm ET for half an hour. You can watch from here or sign in to Twitter account to log in.

New Roundup: OT & work comp; Opioid death rates; Clash of work comp ad titans & more

Friday, June 10th, 2016

New Wage and OT Laws May Increase WC Premium
Roberto Ceniceros, Risk & Insurance
Between the adjusted pay structures resulting from the Department of Labor’s overtime rules and the looming state and federal efforts to increase minimum wage, employers – particularly small employers – may be looking at higher payrolls and increasing insurance expense and self-insured costs:

That would occur as minimum wage hikes directly increase the risk exposure. The greater exposure would follow from claims payers having to provide more indemnity benefits to match workers’ new earning capacity.
“It’s a genuine change in exposure because the injured worker now will have a higher benefit threshold in many cases when they are injured,” said Pamela F. Ferrandino, EVP and senior principal national casualty at Willis Towers Watson.
Sharon Brainard, executive managing director and national casualty practice leader at brokerage Beecher Carlson agreed.
“That obviously is going to have a direct impact,” Brainard said “It is going to increase the premiums and ultimate claims costs.”


What’s your state’s prescription opioid death rate?
Joe Paduda is skeptical of the frequent news reports alleging progress in the war on opioids and he has evidence to back it up. In this post, he offers a tool to check your state’s opioid death rate. For more specifically related to the impact on our industry, see his post: Opioids and Workers’ Comp – a quick update.

Florida Supreme Court Finds 104-Week Temporary Disability Benefits Cap Unconstitutional
Amy O’Connor, Claims Journal

The Florida Supreme Court has delivered another blow to Florida’s workers’ compensation system with a ruling today that the state’s statutory 104-week cap on temporary disability benefits is unconstitutional.

The Florida Supreme Court ruled 5-2 in favor of the of the plaintiffs in Bradley Westphal v. City of St. Petersburg (SC13-1930), saying cutting off disability benefits after 104 weeks to a worker who is totally disabled and incapable of working but who has not yet reached maximum medical improvement is unconstitutional.

Clash of the workers’ comp titans, and the adman behind it
James M. Von Bergen,
An interesting look at heated competition between PA creative agencies that vie for lucrative advertising from plaintiff attorney firms. The ads: billboards, TV spots and more aimed at injured workers.

We Don’t Know How Many Workers Are Injured At Slaughterhouses. Here’s Why
Grant Gerlock, NPR

A slaughterhouse is a safer place to work than it used to be, according to a new government report. But data gathered by federal regulators doesn’t likely capture all the risks faced by meat and poultry workers.
In an update to a 2005 report criticizing safety conditions for workers in the meat industry, the Government Accountability Office says injuries and illnesses are still common. From 2004 to 2013, 151 meat and poultry workers died from injuries sustained at work. The injury rate for meat workers is higher than the rest of the manufacturing industry.
But injuries in the meat industry are also likely to be underreported.

It’s time to establish accountability for job loss
In writing a recent report on Establishing Accountability to Reduce Job Loss After Injury or Illness commissioned by the US Department of Labor’s Office of Disability Employment Policy, Jennifer Christian came to an inescapable conclusion:

Almost immediately, it became obvious to me that in order to make a solid contribution to the on-going public dialogue about health outcomes, the paper would have to explore the meaty issues of explicit expectations, accountability, metrics, credible data, rewards for best practices, and incentives for both participation and performance.

Soon after that, the absurdity of discussing expectations and accountability for the healthcare system alone became obvious —because organizations in other sectors of society play a role in the SAW/RTW process, each of which has enough discretionary power to support or thwart it.

Thus, over time, the purpose of the paper shifted to answering this question: What has to happen in order to engage the professionals at the front-line — the ones who work directly with affected individuals and make discretionary decisions about how much effort to make and for what purpose — so they start making a real effort to help people stay employed?

Light duty assignments create risks – Return-to-work efforts require monitoring
Stephanie Goldberg, Business Insurance

A recent court ruling should motivate employers to ensure return-to-work programs include frequent check-ins with injured employees performing transitional jobs.
Affirming a decision by the Louisiana Office of Workers’ Compensation, a three-judge panel of the state’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeal last month ruled that an injured St. James Parish Schools teacher’s modified position was inappropriate considering work restrictions provided by her treating physician and duties that were not accurately stated in the job description.

New WCRI Studies Compare Outcomes of Injured Workers Across 15 States

The research, “Comparing Outcomes for Injured Workers,” is a product of an ongoing, multiyear effort by WCRI to collect and examine data on the outcomes of medical care achieved by injured workers in a growing number of states. There are 15 individual studies for the following states: Arkansas, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, and Wisconsin.

Quick Takes: More noteworthy news

Health & Safety