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The LexisNexis Legal Newsroom Workers' Compensation has selected its 2014 honorees for the Top Blogs for Workers' Compensation and Workplace Issues. Congratulations to all the honorees!
As 2014 winds down, the LexisNexis Legal Newsroom Workers’ Compensation has again combed through more than 200 blog sites that cater to the workers’ comp and workplace safety world. We have perused blogs devoted to claimant’s issues, to employer perspectives, to safety matters, loss control, MSA concerns, and still others that resist specific categorization. As we did in recent years, we’ve searched for the best of the best—those legal blogs that provide insightful analysis and those business-oriented blogs that offer valuable tidbits of practical information and best practice tips for employers, insurers, risk managers and other professionals. Some of our choices this year are repeat honorees—the quality and timeliness of their posts continues to cause them to rise to the top. There are, however, new honorees as well.
The world of workers’ compensation and workplace safety continues to be a challenging one. Attorneys, risk managers, academics and other comp world decision-makers can no longer concentrate on “traditional” claimant vs. employer pressures/issues. Their professional lives have been made much more complex due to pressures supplied by national and local politics as well as stresses caused by the competitive international economy. Continued changes in healthcare law, in OSHA regulations, in the medico-legal arena are expected. There may be no better way to monitor these changes, to avoid pitfalls and to maneuver the complex arena of workers’ compensation and workplace safety than regularly perusing these Top Blogs.
Grab the Badge! 2014 LexisNexis top blog recipients can place the badge on their blogsites. We ask that you link it back to this announcement. Contact Ted.Zwayer@lexisnexis.com for details and to obtain a jpg.
TOP BLOGS FORWORKERS' COMPENSATION AND WORKPLACE ISSUES2014 HONOREES
From Bob’s Cluttered Deskhttp://www.workerscompensation.com/compnewsnetwork/from-bobs-cluttered-deskPublished by Robert Wilson
“From Bob’s Cluttered Desk,” the ever so idiosyncratic musings of Robert Wilson, President & CEO of WorkersCompensation.com, returns to our Top Blogs list for yet another year. Bob skillfully blends serious commentary with light-hearted fun. For example, his November 6, 2014, “Wrangling With John Burton Over the Future of Workers’ Comp” points to an IAIABC project in which Bob was paired with workers’ comp giant, John Burton, to write an point-counterpoint discussion suggesting changes in the workers’ compensation industry for “its second 100 years.” The 4-article series is available for download [see http://www.workerscompensation.com/compnewsnetwork/from-bobs-cluttered-desk/20123-wrangling-with-john-burton-over-the-future-of-workers-comp.html]. His thoughtful piece on July 14, 2014, cautioning North Carolina legislators about inherent problems with the state’s proposed “Immigration Control” legislation (House Bill 369) should be read by anyone interested in the ongoing national debate over undocumented workers. Bob’s April 30, 2014 post, “Waddling My Fat Fanny to the Workers Comp Obesity Session” [http://www.workerscompensation.com/compnewsnetwork/from-bobs-cluttered-desk/18802-rims–2014-waddling-my-fat-fanny-to-the-workers-comp-obesity-session.html] is a gem. It not only analyzes an important obesity discussion at RIMS 2014, but also does so with Bob’s typical wit.
the workcomp writerhttp://www.workcompwriter.comPublished by Thomas A. Robinson, J.D.
For more than 27 years, Tom Robinson (a/k/a “the workcomp writer”) has been the side-kick of Lex Larson, author of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law (LexisNexis), providing upkeep and revision writing for “the Treatise.” His annual “Bizarre Comp Cases” offering, electronically published by LexisNexis, has been featured on National Public Radio. Rumor has it that Robinson reads/skims more than 2,000 reported decisions each year. Each week, he posts case summaries and commentary on a number of these on his blog. The blog has a national viewpoint. Robinson posits that “just because a case is from Ohio doesn’t mean it can’t be interesting and important to someone from Georgia.” For example, his October 10, 2014 post, “For Whom Are You Working? Ohio Court Creates Twilight Zone For Temporary Workers” [http://www.workcompwriter.com/commentary-for-whom-are-you-working-ohio-court-creates-twilight-zone-for-temporary-workers/], pointed out how a recent Ohio appellate court had inadvertently created a “twilight zone” for temporary workers in the state, whereby they might move in and out of the course of employment with the borrowing employer during the work day based on fine print contained in the staffing company’s agreement with the borrowing employer in spite of the fact that the worker was not a party to that agreement and probably had never seen it. Robinson suggested employers in other states might face similar problems, depending upon the wording of their staffing agreements. His extensive commentary on obesity, “Bariatric Surgery: Is it a Workers’ Compensation Medical Benefit?”, posted February 25, 2014 [http://www.workcompwriter.com/bariatric-surgery-is-it-a-workers-compensation-medical-benefit/], observed that since an employer takes the employee as it finds him or her, more and more these days, it finds the employee suffering from pre-existing obesity, and that the condition greatly complicates recovery and the expenses related to returning an injured employee to work. In his blog post, Robinson included a state-by-state analysis of the compensability of bariatric surgery and other weight-loss regimes. His post entitled, “New Mexico Court Orders Employer to Reimburse Worker For Medical Marijuana,” posted May 21, 2014 [http://www.workcompwriter.com/new-mexico-court-orders-employer-to-reimburse-worker-for-medical-marijuana-2/], pointed out the dilemma faced by that state’s employers who may be required to aid and abet an illegal practice—the purchase of marijuana—since federal law draws no distinction between medical and recreational use of marijuana.
Workers’ Comp Insiderhttp://www.workerscompinsider.com/Published by Lynch Ryan
Continuing its outstanding presentation of a broad swath of concerns: comp issues, risk management, business insurance, and workplace health and safety is Lynch Ryan’s “Workers’ Comp Insider.” As we have pointed out in years past, the blog’s right-hand column is a veritable treasure of links—everything from “Cool Tools” (e.g., glossaries, an acronym finder, drug digest, and job postings) to “Business Reads” (links to prominent business publications), Health & Safety links, and Workers’ Compensation Resources. The site also shines in its posted content. Its October 22nd post, “Ebola, Workers Comp, worker safety & other insurance considerations: an A to Z industry round up” [see http://www.workerscompinsider.com/2014/10/ebola-workers-c.html], was not only a cornucopia of commentary on the topic, but a compendium of third party articles, blogs, and resources from a broad range of sources. Some posts are entertaining: Tom Lynch’s “Where's Aristotle When ABC Needs Him?” [see http://www.workerscompinsider.com/2014/04/this-morning-ab.html], highlighted a report on ABC’s “Good Morning America” television show, in which ABC’s Cecilia Vega “reported” that a contestant on “The Price is Right” was clearly shown spinning a large wheel in spite of the fact that she was collecting disability benefits because of a shoulder injury. Lynch opined that Vega’s use of phrases like “countless people” and “hundreds of millions of dollars” implied that the game-show contestant was merely the tip of the iceberg. Lynch went on to acknowledge that employee fraud within workers’ compensation is problematic, but less so than employer misclassification of workers to save insurance premium costs, other fraud by employers, and collusion among some attorneys, claims adjusters and others. Two spins of the wheel by a game show contestant did not necessarily point to pervasive fraud within the system.
The Rassp Reporthttp://www.lexisnexis.com/rasspreportPublished by Robert G. Rassp, Esq.
For the fourth consecutive year, “The Rassp Report,” by California workers’ compensation expert, Robert Rassp, grabs a Top Blogs award for its insightful treatment of California comp law. Shepherding one of the most active law practices in the Golden State—Rassp is a sole practitioner specializing in injured worker and Social Security disability claimant representation—and devoting considerable time and effort to The Lawyer’s Guide to the AMA Guides and California Workers’ Compensation [LexisNexis], as well as Rassp & Herlick, California Workers’ Compensation Law, one might wonder how he also finds time for blogging. Rassp is like the Everready Rabbit; he never stops. Indeed, colleagues have quipped that Robert doesn’t have an unpublished thought. That may be true; California practitioners and claims personnel are all the much better for it. Important posts are too numerous to mention, but two illustrate Rassp’s fine work. His detailed discussion of how to appeal a final determination of an independent medical review (“IMR”) [/legalnewsroom/workers-compensation/b/recent-cases-news-trends-developments/archive/2014/03/19/california-how-to-file-an-appeal-of-a-final-determination-of-an-independent-medical-review.aspx] provides clarity to a confusing situation in California. Rassp provides links to the respective regulations and offers a step-by-step approach to help both claimant and defense attorneys maneuver through the IMR appeals mine field. Rassp even includes a sample appeal petition for the practitioner’s use. Equally thorough is Rassp’s analysis of the recent Oranje decision by a panel of the state Workers’ Compensation Appeals Board and the role that California’s Telehealth Advancement Act—not a part of the Workers’ Compensation Law—played in the decision. In Oranje, the panel affirmed a law judge’s finding that an applicant who suffered an admitted industrial injury in California but who now lives in Nevada, was entitled to further medical treatment in the form of counseling, including “telephonic therapy” with a California marriage and family therapist [see /legalnewsroom/workers-compensation/b/recent-cases-news-trends-developments/archive/2014/11/23/telemedicine-california-s-telehealth-advancement-act-and-the-injured-worker.aspx].
Workers Comp Zonehttp://workerscompzone.com/Published by Julius Young, Esq. of Boxer & Gerson, LLP
This re-designed comp blog has, as one of its goals, to increase dialogue between employers and worker advocates. Young, a prominent worker advocate in his own right, blends thoroughness and fairness in his posts. His October 10 post, entitled “Crocodile Wrestling” [see http://www.workerscompzone.com/2014/10/10/crocodile-wrestling/], ponders what it might have looked like within the California WCAB’s deliberations over Dubon—i.e., “gnashing of big teeth and claws, accompanied by vicious tail whipping and body slamming.” For those from outside the Golden State, Dubon, which has several iterations, deals with the WCAB’s ability to determine medical issues where utilization review (UR) has not been completed in a timely fashion. Young’s insightful musings are both entertaining and informative. Equal in analysis and quality is Young’s “McCool” [see http://www.workerscompzone.com/2014/11/22/mccool/], a discussion of another case before the WCAB—McCool (Nelson) v. Monterey Bay Medicar. Young points out that the UR processes set up in California’s SB 863 were projected to save some $400 million, yet several monitoring reports show that the savings are in doubt and, in fact, the new procedures have likely resulted in a net addition to comp costs.
Delaware Detour & Frolichttp://www.cassandraswcblog.comPublished by Cassandra Roberts, Esq.
Many comp bloggers have a specific, somewhat pre-determined take on any issue, based on the fact that they inhabit either the claimant’s world or the employer/carrier’s world almost exclusively. Cassandra Roberts, an attorney practicing in Wilmington, Delaware, can at some times be found on one side of that fence and then later on the other. It gives her an unusual feel for topics and issues and helps explains her perennial presence on our Top Blogs listing. Anyone interested in comp issues within the Blue Hen state must read Cassandra’s musings, not only because they offer straightforward thoughts and commentary; she does it in such an entertaining way. Check out her “Nickel and Dimed: Delaware Disfigurement Award for Systemic Nickel Poisoning” [see /legalnewsroom/workers-compensation/b/recent-cases-news-trends-developments/archive/2014/02/05/nickel-and-dimed-delaware-disfigurement-award-for-systemic-nickel-poisoning.aspx], in which she elaborates on her earlier discussion of disfigurement claims. Her several pieces on displaced workers, including “The Return of the Sua Sponte: Delaware IAB Replies to Post About Displaced Worker” [see /legalnewsroom/workers-compensation/b/recent-cases-news-trends-developments/archive/2014/08/06/the-return-of-the-sua-sponte-delaware-iab-replies-to-post-about-displaced-worker.aspx], are worthwhile reads for those in her state. It seems some issues can be raised at the Board or Superior Court level where neither the worker nor the employer have made mention of them. Her excellent commentary offered on November 14th pointed out that, as is the case with most other jurisdictions, injured workers are entitled to benefits in spite of their status as undocumented workers [see /legalnewsroom/workers-compensation/b/recent-cases-news-trends-developments/archive/2014/11/14/delaware-supreme-court-rules-that-illegals-may-collect-partial-disability.aspx].
Michigan Workers Comp Lawyershttp://workerscomplawyerhelp.com/workers-comp-lawyer-blogPublished by the Law Offices of Alex Berman, PC
The firm’s all-things-Michigan blog continues to combine short, concise articles on workers’ compensation law with tidbits of advice for injured workers throughout the state. Jeffrey Kaufman’s October 28 post, “Small victory for medical marijuana proponents” [see http://www.workerscomplawyerhelp.com/workers-comp-lawyer-blog/2014/10/small-victory-medical-marijuana-proponents/], pointed to a recent decision from the Michigan Court of Appeals which held that an employee fired for testing positive for drugs can still, under some circumstances, collect unemployment benefits. Kaufman posited that the case might also have implications within the Michigan workers’ compensation arena. He observes that while medical marijuana is specifically excluded from prescription coverage by the Michigan Comp Act, a worker who tests positive for marijuana use is not automatically disqualified from workers’ compensation benefits. A worker should not, therefore, give up just because he or she tests positive for marijuana use. Other posts offer practical tips for injured workers. “Job Search, Job Search, Job Search!” [see http://www.workerscomplawyerhelp.com/workers-comp-lawyer-blog/2014/09/job-search-job-search-job-search/], posted September 25th, suggests that while many injured workers “moan and groan” about looking for suitable work, such searches can be crucial in countering “phantom wages” that some vocational experts might say the worker is capable of earning. Good-faith job searches can prove that those jobs don’t exist.
Missouri Workers’ Comp Alertshttp://huckhowe.blogspot.com/Published by Martin Klug, Esq.
Back for a second year on our Top Blogs list is “Mo. Workers’ Comp Alerts,” by St. Louis attorney, Martin Klug. The blog has a new, clean interface and has real “pop and pow.” A must-read by anyone interested in Missouri workers’ compensation law, attorneys, insurance adjusters, and risk managers from other states would do well to monitor this blog as well. Klug’s late October offering, “No equal exposure defense for parking lot fall” [see http://huckhowe.blogspot.com/2014/10/no-equal-exposure-defense-for-parking.html], provides an in-depth look at the state’s “equal exposure defense” and notes that, under the recent Viley decision (Scholastic v. Viley, WD 77546 (Oc. 28, 2014)), the defense virtually disappears for injuries sustained on property that is not open to the public. He caustically notes that Viley follows an earlier 2014 decision, Dorris v Stoddard County, 436 S.W.3d 586 (Mo. App. 2014), “like a lemming leaping off a cliff into a drop of absurdity.” His incisive article on Missouri’s post-injury “misconduct” defense [see http://huckhowe.blogspot.com/2014/10/287170-and-post-injury-misconduct.html] cautions that the state’s statute, § 287.140, defines what is not misconduct, yet never really says what is. He notes that the idea that a worker who behaves badly should lose benefits resonates with business reformers, but forfeiture runs contrary to the general theme of comp as a statutory benefit without assessment of fault. Klug is interesting in the comp world beyond the Show-Me State, however. His August 20 post, “Drunken Women Pose Threat to Police” [see http://huckhowe.blogspot.com/2014/08/drunken-women-pose-threat-to-police.html], highlights recent research findings that women who recently consumed alcohol are the most likely group to strike out against law enforcement officials. In that same piece, Klug pointed to other research showing police officers faced an increased occupational risk from naked people. Ya think?
Nevada Workers’ Compensation Law Bloghttp://www.nevadaworkerscompensationlaw.com/Published by Virginia Hunt Law Office
Nevada Workers’ Compensation Law Blog, written by claimant’s attorney and former administrative appeals officer, Virginia Hunt, is a repository for information and opinion related to workplace injuries in the Silver State. Having worked inside the “system,” Hunt offers excellent advice to claimants and attorneys alike on such important issues as how to fight back when the “independent” medical exam physician isn’t independent [see http://www.nevadaworkerscompensationlaw.com/2014/11/articles/claims/independent-medical-exams-are-rarely-independent/], how to seek appropriate treatment for PTSD [see http://www.nevadaworkerscompensationlaw.com/2014/06/articles/psychological-injury/post-traumatic-stress-disorder-nevada-comp-law/], and how to obtain out-of-state medical care [see http://www.nevadaworkerscompensationlaw.com/2014/08/articles/benefits/out-of-state-care/out-of-state-medical-care-for-nevada-injured-workers/]. Hunt also engages others in her discussion of important issues. See, for example, a March 4 post in which she asked Nevada attorney, Gerald Welt, to share his expertise related to the interaction between Nevada Workers’ Comp law and Social Security disabilities [see http://www.nevadaworkerscompensationlaw.com/2014/03/articles/miscellaneous/nevada-workers-comp-and-social-security-disability/].
New Jersey Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Bloghttp://www.njworkerscompblog.com/Published by John Geaney, Esq. of Capehart Scatchard
Returning for a fourth consecutive year on our Top Blogs list is New Jersey Workers’ Comp Blog, by John Geaney, an experienced comp defense attorney with Capehart Scatchard. Geaney’s communications actually began in 2001, with an email newsletter sent to clients and others. Gueney’s broad offerings include an analysis of a recent New Jersey decision that ruled a nanny/housekeeper was a “special employee” and, accordingly, barred from suing homeowners for negligence in connection with an injury in the homeowners’ yard [see http://www.njworkerscompblog.com/court-deems-nanny-special-employee-therefore-barred-suing-homeowners-negligence/], the rejection by a New Jersey court of an alleged common law marriage as a basis for dependency benefits in a comp claim [see http://www.njworkerscompblog.com/new-jersey-court-rejects-common-law-marriage-basis-dependency-benefits-workers-comp-claim/], and discussion of a case in which a New Jersey business owner was sentenced to jail for workers’ comp insurance fraud [see http://www.njworkerscompblog.com/nj-business-owner-sentenced-jail-workers-comp-insurance-fraud/]. While virtually all his posts have a New Jersey slant, quite a few apply in other states as well. For example, his October 23rd post entitled, “EEOC Guidance on Pregnancy Discrimination Act and Access to Light Duty” [see http://www.njworkerscompblog.com/eeoc-guidance-pregnancy-discrimination-act-access-light-duty/], is a concise analysis that could help any employer avoid potential acts of discrimination in relation to pregnant employees. A June 30 post [see http://www.njworkerscompblog.com/court-rules-that-telecommuting-could-be-reasonable-accommodation-under-ada/], analyzes a recent 6th Circuit case (EEOC v. Ford Motor Co., 2014 U.S. App. LEXIS 7502) that held that under at least some circumstances, telecommuting could be deemed a required reasonable accommodation under the ADA.
PA Work Comp Defensehttp://www.pawcdefense.blogspot.com/Published by Michael D. Sherman, Esq.
Another blog returning from its initial designation last year as a Top Blog is Michael D. Sherman’s “PA Work Comp Defense.” Sherman, who practices primarily in Pittsburgh, is a member of Chartwell Law Offices LLP. Sherman includes practice pointers in virtually all his posts. For example, his August 19 post, “Injury of the "Early Arrival" Employee and Scope of Employment” [see http://pawcdefense.blogspot.com/2014/08/injury-of-early-arrival-employee-and.html], admonished employers who allow “earlier arrivers” to examine the purpose of the employee in arriving before the normal workday. To the extent that early arrival was merely the preference for the employee and not some reason associated with the actual work, the employer might be opening itself to unnecessary risk and expense. Just as there is controversy regarding workers who sustain injuries before the start of the workday, there are difficulties with those who are injured after voluntary quitting. In Sherman’s October 24th post, “Work Injury AFTER a Voluntary Quit … Work Comp or Civil Liability?” [see http://pawcdefense.blogspot.com/2014/10/work-injury-after-voluntary-quit-work.html], he discusses an August, 2014 Commonwealth Court decision, Marazas v. WCAB (Vitas Healthcare Corp.). Sherman gives the practical advice to employers: when an employee quits, immediately escort the person from the building and “send their stuff to them in a box!”
Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Bloghttp://www.pennsylvaniaworkerscompensationlawyerblog.comPublished by Brilliant & Neiman, LLC
Representing the claimant’s side within the Keystone State is “Pennsylvania Workers’ Compensation Blog.” This is the blog’s fifth appearance on our list and its standards have remained high over the years. As is the case with a number of our other state-specific blogs, the points offered by Glenn Neiman—who posts a significant majority of online content—should be read with interest by others. Neiman’s discussion, for example, of the personal comfort doctrine in his November 11 article, entitled “Cook Bitten by Dog in Scope and Course of Job for PA Workers’ Comp” [see http://www.pennsylvaniaworkerscompensationlawyerblog.com/2014/11/cook_bitten_by_dog_in_scope_an_1.html], offers an analysis that could apply to many other jurisdictions. Similarly, an October 28 post, “Attending Monthly Meeting Not a “Special Mission” – Workers’ Comp Benefits Denied” [see http://www.pennsylvaniaworkerscompensationlawyerblog.com/2014/10/attending_monthly_meeting_not.html], offers a clear discussion of that exception to the “going and coming rule.” Neiman’s “Holistic Medical Treatment Provided in India Not Compensable for PA Workers’ Compensation” offers a discussion of an issue not often seen—the compensability of holistic “Ayurvedic” medical treatment in India for a Pennsylvania claimant.
Navigable Watershttp://navwaters.comPublished by Mouledoux, Bland, Legrand & Brackett
A consistent name on our Top Blogs list is Navigable Waters, a Maritime, Longshore and Defense Base Act Blog, published by New Orleans law firm, Mouledoux, Bland, Legrand & Brackett. Receiving an award for the fifth consecutive year, the firm continues to post informative content on a timely basis. Whether it’s a piece on punitive damage recovery under maritime law [see http://navwaters.com/2014/09/30/punitive-damages-not-recoverable/], a post discussing the ability to reach LHWCA benefits to pay spousal support [see http://navwaters.com/2014/11/10/pa-court-requires-use-of-longshore-benefits-to-pay-spousal-support/], or the fascinating discussion of Yates v. United States, argued before the U.S. Supreme Court, which may decide whether a commercial fisherman’s action of throwing undersized fish back into the ocean could be a potential violation of the “anti-shredding” provision of Sarbanes-Oxley Act (Comp folks might not be familiar with “Sarbox.” Enacted in 2002 (Pub.L. 107-204), the law deals primarily with accounting fraud and other practices made famous in the Enron debacle) [see http://navwaters.com/2014/10/30/is-sarbanes-oxley-really-this-fishy/], this blog continues to be a real winner.
The Official Medicare Set Aside Blog and Information Resourcehttp://www.medicaresetasideblog.com/Published by MEDVAL, LLC
Appearing for the sixth consecutive year on our list is “The Official Medicare Set Aside Blog and Information Resource,” published by MEDVAL, LLC, the well known firm concentrating in MSAs and their complex issues. As in years past, the bulk of the writing is offered by the firm’s talented general counsel, Jennifer C. Jordan. Her October 29 piece, “When MSA Surgery Occurs Between Settlement and State WC Approval” [see http://www.medval.com/2014/10/29/when-msa-surgery-occurs-between-settlement-and-state-wc-approval/], provides a cautionary examination of what can happen when the parties are so anxious to settle a claim that they fail to wait for MMI and, therefore, don’t adequately allow for upcoming surgical costs; the employer was essentially saddled with paying them twice. Her March 24 post, “Louisiana Attorneys Seek MSA Seed Money as Fee” [see http://www.medval.com/2014/03/24/louisiana-attorneys-seek-msa-seed-money-as-fee/], provides a warning as well. This time the recipients of Jordan’s expertise are claimant attorneys who bifurcate their claim (into an indemnity portion that quickly can be settled) and a medical portion (which must take MSA issues into consideration). The discussion relates to a Louisiana case where, when it came to the second part of the settlement, the only cash available for attorney’s fees was seed money. The OWC protected the funds and did not allow the segregation for fees. Jordan did speculate as to what might happen if, after the funds were deposited into the MSA account at the bank, the lawyers then sought to recover their fees from the account which, as Jordan says, is subject to creditors’ claims.
Managed Care Mattershttp://www.healthstrategyassoc.com/wordpress/Published by Joseph Paduda
Managed Care Matters, another multi-year winner of our Top Blogs award, is a hot spot for information and opinion related to health care cost containment, health policy & research—as well as medical news—for insurers, employers, and healthcare providers. In the “early” days of law-related blogs, it seemed everyone, including cousin Vinny, tried their hand at posting commentary on the web. Most were mere flashes in the pan. Joe Paduda, the principle of Health Strategy Associates, has staying power. It’s employer-oriented—you’ll see no pointers on how to file your claim here—but its content is wide and deep. Most posts reflect Paduda’s keen sense of humor. There’s his November 14 post, “Bringing a knife to a gun fight” [see http://www.joepaduda.com/2014/11/bringing-life-gun-fight/], which offers a candid discussion of how—and why—opponents of physician dispensing companies were successful recently in Pennsylvania and why such opposition failed in some other states—Maryland, Florida & Hawaii, according to Paduda. He opines that you lose when you bring a knife to a gunfight. He points to a recent WCRI study that indicates in spite of some recent improvements, physician-dispensed drugs still cost 30 to 60 percent more than the same drugs bought from a retail pharmacy. Joe argues that employers, insurers and their allies better get serious about the issue; he contends it costs taxpayers and employers a billion dollars each year. Paduda’s October 7 post, “Drug formularies—much needed in workers comp” [see http://www.joepaduda.com/2014/10/formularies-workers-comp/], sounds another familiar alarm, that according to some recent studies, in workers’ compensation claims, a quarter of all drug costs are for opioids and a third related to physician-dispensed drugs. Joe argues that there are “two valuable and too-little used tools in the box”: evidence-based guidelines, backed up by strong utilization review, and drug formularies. Paduda also says, “Before some naysayer starts screaming about the unfairness of payers influencing doctors’ treatment decisions, that naysayer should understand that formularies are in place in every group health, Medicare, Medicaid, and individual health plan.” Whether one tends to see things the way Paduda does, or not, his words are incisive, his positions clear.
SafetyAtWorkBloghttp://www.safetyatworkblog.comPublished by Kevin Jones
Workplace safety is an international issue, of course. SafetyAtWorkBlog, offered up by Kevin Jones from Australia, provides an informative and lively detour for those interested in reading about workplace injury issues beyond the U.S. Many of Jones’ posts show that we have a lot in common with the Aussies. For example, in an October 17th post, Jones argues that occupational health professionals feel much more comfortable discussing catastrophic events than issues more personal to workers, such as suicide. Suicide talk is unsettling and uncomfortable, whereas catastrophic events can sometimes be pigeonholed into an academic and abstract framework. Suicides arising out of workplace incidents are a growing problem, and the issues should be discussed in a straightforward fashion [see http://safetyatworkblog.com/2014/10/17/when-developing-a-mental-healthwellbeing-plan-suicide-should-not-be-forgotten/]. Insightful and entertaining is Jones’ July 28 discussion entitled, “OHS is not all about covering one’s ***” [see http://safetyatworkblog.com/2014/07/28/ohs-is-not-all-about-covering-ones-***/], in which he posits that the fear of “reputational damage” is a strong motivator of change within the Australian corporate world and that, accordingly, safety professionals should learn to work with and, perhaps, exploit that fear to bring about positive change. Finally, in a particularly reflective piece, “One man’s frustration with OHS illustrates larger safety dysfunctions” [see http://safetyatworkblog.com/2014/03/12/one-mans-frustration-with-ohs-illustrates-larger-safety-dysfunctions/#more-12492], Jones laments the fact that all too often the Australian government seems only interested in assuring compliance with the occupational safety laws when instead, it should be concerned with educating the community about workplace safety.
Reduce Your Workers Comphttp://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/Published by Amaxx Risk Solutions, Inc.
For a seventh consecutive year, Reduce Your Workers Comp has been selected as one of the top Comp Blogs for 2014. While some bloggers concentrate on case law and statutory amendments and others stress workers’ rights and strategies, Amaxx Risk Solutions e-publishes timely, clear and direct advice on how to reduce workers’ compensation costs. Much of the content is authored by the prolific president of the firm, Rebecca Shafer, J.D. (author of Your Ultimate Guide to Mastering Workers’ Comp: Reduce Costs 20%-50%). In an August 28 post, [http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/2014/08/dollars-and-cents-of-frequency-and-severity-work-comp-premium-impact/], Shafer notes that virtually every employer is concerned with its serious injury loss claims—the ones worth $50,000. She ponders if, however, the employer understands that small claims, in the aggregate, can be just as important, that $50,000 in “small” claims can actually have a more adverse effect on premium costs than the one large claim. She suggests that while an employer’s claim review must deal with large or shock losses, it should also focus on the underlying issues and management of the smaller, more frequent claims. Equally compelling is Shafer’s treatment of social media in her June 24 posting, “Social Media Basics for Attorneys and Claims Professionals” [see http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/2014/06/social-media-basics-for-attorneys-and-claims-professionals/]. A hot topic in many states these days is drug compounding. Shafer’s colleague, Michael B. Stack, indicates that while in some instances the use of compound drugs can have positive results, in many instances, those results may be coming at unnecessary expense, that thorough review and strong control is key when instituting a Compound Drug Program [see http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/2014/08/be-wary-of-compound-medications-in-workers-compensation/]. In a posting on June 11, Shafer makes an observation that she indicates is all too often ignored by employers: “you can’t improve what you don’t measure.” She notes that while all successful companies measure their performance, too many fail to track adequately the non-financial measurements associated with workplace injuries and claims. It is only when both financial and non-financial measurements are tracked that the employer can see overall trends and take decisive action in a timely and effective manner [see http://blog.reduceyourworkerscomp.com/2014/06/work-comp-claims-you-cant-improve-what-you-dont-measure/].
Blogs to Watch
Straight Talk on Insurancehttp://straighttalkoninsurance.comPublished by Karen C. Yotis, Esq.
Splashing onto the scene this year with a breakout blog is Karen C. Yotis, Esq., with “Straight Talk on Insurance.” Not only is Karen’s blog filled with timely legal content on workers’ compensation and insurance law, it is one of the most esthetically pleasing that we’ve seen. Yotis’ blog has a clean, bright appearance; it also includes some of the most lively and descriptive graphics in any legal blog around. The site’s beauty is, however, much more than skin deep. Yotis digs for comp and insurance tidbits and then wraps them with intelligent comment and analysis. For example, Yotis was the first blogger to discover and announce that the defendant employer in the hugely important California Salas case had filed a Petition for Writ of Certiorari asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Supreme Court of California’s July 2014 decision involving the interplay, if any, between Federal immigration law, on the one hand, and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA) and Senate Bill 1818, which extends employment rights to all individuals regardless of immigration status, on the other [see http://straighttalkoninsurance.com/employer-salas-petitions-scotus-writ-cert/]. Yotis sifted through the employer’s complex petition for cert and provided a clear overview of the procedural and legal issues at state before the SCOTUS. Yotis’ December 1, 2014 post, “Predictive Analytics and Big Data in the Workplace and Beyond: The Science Behind the Crystal Ball,” [http://straighttalkoninsurance.com/predictive-analytics-big-data-workplace-beyond-science-behind-crystal-ball/] is another example of the depth contained in this blog. Karen thoughtfully and extensively comments upon how the analysis of historical and current data is being married to the science of analytics to produce extensive models predicting future outcomes. She reports that while predictions related to human behavior have often been used to combat financial risk, fortify healthcare, toughen crime fighting, and boost sales, the table is now set for predictive analytics to inform employers and workers about which of the latter might be most susceptible to injury and how such injuries can be avoided. Yotis discusses the significant challenges in crafting predictive models—the jury is still out as to how effective modeling can be, she says—but she posits that the combination of technology and data is beginning to yield dividends.
Workers’ Compensation Defense Bloghttp://rwwcomplaw.com/category/blog/Published by Reinisch Wilson Weier PC
Another newcomer to our annual list is Workers’ Compensation Defense Blog by Reinisch Wilson Weier PC, the Pacific Northwest’s largest workers’ compensation defense firm with permanent offices in Seattle and Portland. Begun in April, 2013, the ultra professional-looking blog features case law updates, commentary on comp issues, and comp-related news, all generally from a fair, yet defense-oriented viewpoint. Examples of case commentary include “A Simple Equation Complicates Combined Condition Processing” [see http://rwwcomplaw.com/a-simple-equation-complicates-combined-condition-processing/], posted April 29th by Courtney Kreutz and Dave Wilson, comments upon Vigor Industrial, LLC v. Ayres, 257 Or. App. 705 (2013), in which the authors posit that the Court boiled down the components of a combined condition to a simple mathematical formula. As to “simple,” Kruetz and Wilson say yes, but they add that the equation creates a potentially significant hurdle when attempting to deny an injured worker’s combined condition. Since the decision now requires that a pre-existing condition be one that is “legally cognizable,” those representing employers will need to keep that in mind in hypothetical questions to medical experts. Attorneys at the firm pour over medical articles in addition to case decisions. In a July 15 post [see http://rwwcomplaw.com/study-reveals-simultaneous-bilateral-total-knee-arthroplasty-has-increased-risk-of-complications/], firm member Michael H. Weier discusses a recent study published in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery that revealed simultaneous bilateral total knee arthroplasty (TKA) is associated with significantly higher rates of in-hospital complications as compared to risks with unilateral TKA. With the aging and obese workforce, this finding has important implications for employees and employers alike.
Conference Chronicleshttp://www.safetynational.com/conferencechronicles/Published by Safety National
Sponsored by Safety National, newly launched Conference Chronicles has spawned keen interest in broad circles of workers’ compensation professionals and already enjoys high traffic in spite of the fact that its electronic “ink” is only now beginning to dry. The brainchild of Mark Walls, the company’s V.P., Communications and Strategic Analysis, the blog’s modest purpose—“Reporting important highlights & trends from industry events”—belies its value. If you can’t get to an important conference, Mark and his team likely are there to serve as your unofficial proxies, reporting on conference proceedings, the behind-the-scenes discussions, and other matters of interest. Their coverage of the recent 23rd Annual NationalWorkers’ Compensation & Disability Conference in Las Vegas was extensive. Did you miss the spirited discussion by Lex Larson, Tom Robinson (both of Larson’s Workers’ Compensation Law) and Deborah Kohl (Massachusetts claimant’s attorney and former president of Workers Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG)) of Florida’s Padgett decision, their discussion of the Oklahoma opt-out legislation, and how both are examples of peripheral attacks on exclusivity? You’re in luck. Mark et al. blogged on the trio’s comments [see https://www.safetynational.com/conferencechronicles/undermining-the-grand-bargain-of-workers-compensation-how-does-this-impact-exclusive-remedy/]. If you are curious about the panel discussion on Medicare Payer Compliance that took place at the CA Coalition on Workers’ Comp Conference (CCWC) that featured Walls as moderator and Kip Daniels of Nuquest/Bridgepoint, Roy Franco of Franco Signor, and Jennifer Jordan of MEDVAL, access it here [https://www.safetynational.com/conferencechronicles/emerging-issues-in-medicare-secondary-payer-compliance/]. Even if you attend any of the conferences, the blog is still invaluable since it likely covers what’s going on in other conference areas while you’re there.
Workers’ Compensation Perspectiveshttp://workerscompperspectives.blogspot.com/Published by Terry Bogyo
New to the list this year, but firmly established as an outstanding blog on the Canadian world of workers’ compensation is Workers’ Compensation Perspectives. Offered up by “TerryB”, a self-described “student of workers’ compensation systems” and the former Director of Corporate Planning and Development at WorkSafeBC, the blog provides weighty commentary on issues related to Occupational Health and Safety that transcend international borders. His willingness to call himself a “student,” when he obviously has so much to teach the rest of us, is refreshing. His thoughtful and scholarly piece posted June 10 entitled, “What is the ‘social policy objective’ of workers’ compensation?” [see http://workerscompperspectives.blogspot.com/2014/06/what-is-social-policy-objective-of.html], notes that the essential public policy objective—“to protect workers from work-related injury, disability, illness and death in a compassionate and sustainable way that still allows the economic activity and innovation necessary for societies to operate and thrive”—is much easier said than it is accomplished. Bogyo adds in deciding how to achieve this social policy objective, legislators have a series of “direct and indirect levers” they can adjust that will impact workers, employers, work activities and work processes. Of equal quality is his “Are there systemic barriers to reporting injuries and filing claims?”, posted February 17th [see http://workerscompperspectives.blogspot.com/2014/02/are-there-systemic-barriers-to.html]. Therein, Bogyo offers that tracing the causes behind the under-reporting of workplace injuries is complex, that some reasons are quite personal while others are deeply systemic. He comments that in spite of the fact that active suppression of injury reporting is prohibited in most jurisdictions, it happens all too often and that beyond the illegality of the actions, they have the consequence of “putting others at risk, increasing the cost of work-related injury to the injured worker (family and community), and increasing the costs to other public and private insurance plans—creating an unintentional subsidy to the industry giving rise to the injury.”
OSHA Law Updatehttp://www.oshalawupdate.com/Published by Epstein, Becker & Green
New to our Top Blogs list, but not to the web itself is OSHA Law Update, from the national OSHA Practice Group at Epstein Becker & Green. Members of the practice group offer a plethora of posts on workplace safety and related concerns. For example, as the frenzy associated with Black Friday holiday shopping approached, EBG reported that OSHA was “strongly encouraging” retailers to adopt a set of “Crowd Management Safety Guidelines” in addition to their existing safety policies and procedures [see http://www.oshalawupdate.com/2014/11/18/osha-warns-retailers-it-expects-better-than-business-as-usual-on-black-friday/]. On November 13, the firm’s Valerie Butera reported on strategies that employers could utilize to address employee concerns about Ebola in the workplace [see http://www.oshalawupdate.com/2014/11/13/practical-strategies-for-addressing-employee-concerns-about-ebola-in-the-workplace/]. A June 10 post, “Hospitals’ Heavy Lifting: Understanding OSHA’s New Hospital Worker and Patient Safety Guidance” [see http://www.oshalawupdate.com/2014/06/10/oshas-hospital-worker-and-patient-safety-guidance/] summarized OSHA’s new web-based guidance on safety issues within the hospital context. An April 21st post excerpted an article that the practice group co-authored and published in BioFuels Journal addressing OSHA’s enforcement landscape related to work on top of any rolling stock (e.g., tanker trucks, railcars, rigs, etc.) in any industry [see http://www.oshalawupdate.com/2014/04/21/what-osha-requires-from-ethanol-plant-operators/].
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