Monthly Archives: February 2013

Ten Commandments For Disagreeing With Others

Ten Commandments For Disagreeing With Others

“Forward Day by Day” is a pamphlet sponsored by the Episcopal Church and the following list, with slight modifications, was taken from the January 30, 2013 edition. These commandments have universal application. We suggest you try them out the next time you find yourself in a disagreeable situation.

(1) Seek to discover the best and strongest points in the other’s position;

(2) Give other people credit for sincerity;

(3) Do not listen to gossip and second-hand information;

(4) Avoid classifying people;

(5) Emphasize agreements;

(6) When others criticize, try to bring out favorable points;

(7) When there is misunderstanding, go directly to the parties involved when possible;

(8)  Try to remember that there is a higher power that is too big for any one mind;

(9) Never ridicule another’s faith;

(10) Pray for those with whom you differ.

The Obama Agenda: The Road to Workplace Wellness

Today’s post comes from guest author Jon Gelman from Jon Gelman, LLC – Attorney at Law.

As workers compensation programs are being diluted by soaring medical costs, The Obama Administration’s policy makers are taking a bold new step to focus on promoting wellness and disease-prevention efforts in the workplace.

Immediately following the presidential elction last November, the Department of Labor, International Revenue Service and the Department of Health and Human Services proposed regulations to enforce workplace wellness programs under the Affordable Care Act. The proposed regulations will stimulated employer programs to invite healthier workers and may go as far as penalizing those who maintian poor diets and inadequate exercise regiems.

… regulations would increase the maximum permissible reward under a health-contingent wellness program offered in connection with a group health plan (and any related health insurance coverage) from 20 percent to 30 percent of the cost of coverage. The proposed regulations would further increase the maximum permissible reward to 50 percent for wellness programs designed to prevent or reduce tobacco use. These regulations also include other proposed clarifications regarding the reasonable design of health-contingent wellness programs and the reasonable alternatives they must offer in order to avoid prohibited discrimination.”

One analysis of the proposal concludes……

“We are cautiously optimistic about the potential of workplace-wellness programs to help contain healthcare costs and to improve the health and well-being of millions of California’s workers. Preventing illness and injury through workplace-based strategies potentially benefits employees and their families, employers, and public and private insurance providers. There is emerging evidence about the effectiveness of WWPs in improving chronic disease outcomes, and a long history of occupational health and safety practices reducing workplace injury and death. Incentives in the ACA have the potential to serve as a catalyst for expanding WWP’s broadly in California. However, policy solutions need to respond to potential unintended consequences and account for the state’s incredibly diverse communities and businesses in order to make wellness programs work for all Californians.”

Read The Greenlining Institute’s report “Helth, Equity and the Bottom line: Workplace Wellness and California Business.

Comments are due on or before January 25, 2013.

Who Calls The Shots, Your Employer-Selected Doctor Or The Insurance Company?

Insurance companies sometimes tell doctors that they will not pay for procedures that the doctor says are medically appropriate.

Today’s post comes from guest author Nathan Reckman from Paul McAndrew Law Firm.

In Iowa, employers have the right to control an injured worker’s medical care. This means that if you are injured at work, your employer gets to send you to a doctor of their choosing. The doctors chosen by the employer are called “authorized treating physicians.” In theory, after an employer chooses their authorized treating physician, they are required to pay for any care that doctor believes is necessary to treat the work injury. In practice, the employer and their workers’ compensation insurance company often try to interfere with the care the injured worker is entitled to by refusing to pay for procedures or tests recommended by their handpicked doctor.

Typically, when an authorized doctor suggests an expensive course of care (like surgery) the first thing the doctor will do is check with the insurance company to make sure the surgery is going to be paid for. Instead of immediately scheduling the needed surgery, the doctor will wait until the insurance carrier agrees to pay for the procedure. Doctors do this so they don’t have to worry about how they are going to be paid. Asking for this unneeded authorization from the insurance company means the insurance company now has a say in determining what individual procedures are proper for the care of the work injury.

We often see injured workers whose injury was initially accepted by the employer until the doctor requests authorization for an expensive surgery. When faced with the additional cost of surgery, the insurance carrier denies the work injury hoping the injured worker will either forego surgery or try to pay for the surgery through other means, such as their personal health insurance.

This situation may also arise when the authorized doctor recommends expensive diagnostic procedures, like CT scans, or refers the injured worker to a specialist, for example a psychiatrist for depression related to the work injury.

To make sure your rights are protected, it’s often helpful to have an experienced workers’ compensation attorney on your side if you’re facing a situation where your employer is trying to interfere with the decisions of their handpicked doctor. Injured workers should get the care that their doctor, not an insurance company, determines is medically appropriate.

Loss of Health Insurance Access: The Personal Toll on the Unexpected Uninsured.

Today’s post comes from guest author Tom Domer from The Domer Law Firm.

Access to health insurance is under attack. President’s Obama’s comprehensive health care reform law, intended to increase health care coverage for millions of Americans, faced extreme scrutiny by the U.S. Supreme Court last week. Congressman Paul Ryan’s federal budget plan is a cynical and careless proposal that would slash Medicaid programs, while providing tax cuts for the wealthy. In Wisconsin, Governor Walker and his fellow Republicans also propose gutting funds to the state’s vital Medicaid program. The ultimate goal is hard to deny: certain politicians and interest groups actually want a country with more uninsured citizens. The personal toll on the uninsured is devastating, especially for those dealing with work injuries.

Access to health insurance alters this equation. If the worker had adequate access to health insurance, especially Medicaid, he could obtain the medical care that could allow a return to work, regardless of whether the worker’s compensation insurer accepted or denied the claim. 

As a worker’s compensation attorney, the following scenario plays out on a daily basis: A hard-working individual—who is lucky enough to have health insurance through the employer—is injured at work through no fault of his own. The injury is severe enough Continue reading

Boston Globe: Teen Work Related Injuries a “Major Problem”

Today’s post comes from guest author Deborah Kohl from Deborah G. Kohl Law Offices.

A recent article published in the Boston Globe cites injuries to teenagers are, “A major problem,” according to the Massachusetts Department of Public Health. The article can be found here. The article further goes on to state that rules are often “flouted” for minors. The majority of injuries to teenagers take place in retail jobs or those in the the food preparation and service industry.

The article reports that the injuries are often serious ones such as cuts from deli/meat slicers and back/neck pain as a result heavy lifting in service and landscaping jobs. The article also reported, “One local teen, who asked not to be identified fearing retaliation from his boss, described going onto a highway to retrieve supermarket carts.”

Everyone, regardless of age, has the right to expect nothing less than a safe working environment. If you are injured at work, do not hesitate to immediately report the injury to your employer.

If you feel that your rights have been violated with respect to an injury you sustained on the job, please contact us to discuss your situation.

How To Manage Worry Without Medication

Today’s post comes from guest author Kit Case from Causey Law Firm.

For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about the very real medical dangers of worry. For injured or disabled workers, worry can add an additional and very significant burden on the body. In this post, we’ll talk about some of the ways that worry can be treated or even avoided.

Much of the time treatments are simply medications that increase GABA. Cognitive therapy is prescribed depending upon insurance coverage. Addressing the physical and mental effects of excessive worry can aid in recovery from an injury or disability and can increase levels of success in vocational retraining efforts. In rare cases, worry and anxiety can become permanent fixtures in a person’s life, and the effects of this condition can result in ratable permanent impairment. But, the greater part of lay and scientific literature lists non-medicine tips to reduce worry, fear and anxiety to a more modulated level, thereby providing some relief from this constant invader that often creates unproductive and hurtful periods in life.

Here, summarized, are six tips cited in the literature to help manage worry without medication:

  • Separate out toxic worry from good worry: Good worry amounts to planning. Toxic worry is unnecessary, repetitive, unproductive, paralyzing, frightening, and in general, life-defeating.
  • Get the facts rather than letting your imagination run away. Analyze the problem and take corrective action.
  • Develop connectedness in as many ways as you can: family, social, information and ideas, organizations and institutions. Never worry alone.
  • Touch and be touched: in addition to massage therapy, seek out hugs and laughter – being around children or family can help.
  • Be good to yourself. Exercise, eat well, get enough sleep, meditate, do yoga and be aware of over consumption of substances detrimental to your health, such as alcohol.
  • Sing, read, cry, do what you love, look for what’s good in life and don’t sweat the small stuff.

Suicides in the U.S. Military: An Epidemic; What about Workers’ Compensation?

In 2012, suicides in the U.S. military were at a record high of 349, which was higher than the 295 American combat deaths in Afghanistan in 2012. This number is up from 301 in 2011. The Pentagon has had a difficult time dealing with this epidemic, which likely stems from military personnel being in combat for more than a decade in Afghanistan and Iraq, complicated by anxiety over being forced out of the military due to a “shrinking force.”

In 2011, 65% of soldiers who attempted suicide had a history of behavioral problems; however, only 45% of those who actually killed themselves had such a history. If there are signs that these service members were asking for help, they were not getting the help that they needed.

What’s interesting is that the U.S. military keeps statistics on suicides, and when the numbers go up to alarming rates the  hope is that something will be done to investigate. For years, workers’ compensation lawyers have heard about suicides from employees who did not get proper medical care, who could not handle the abuse that sometimes happens within the system, and who could no longer stand the pain of permanent injuries, disability and resulting depression. But where are the statistics on these deaths? The insurance industry either has this information or it could get it. As a matter of public policy, should they be required to report it?