Monthly Archives: June 2016

CNBC: If you’re sitting at your desk, GET UP NOW!

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

Causey Law Firm has taken small steps to implement ergonomic planning in our office.  We have one Varidesk sit/stand desktop conversion in use, like the one shown in the video, as well as a fully convertible sit/stand desk and adjustable-height rolling cart in our file room.  Several people use a FitBit or similar device to encourage and track movement throughout the day. It’s not easy to integrate motion into a desk job, but it can really help!  Take a look at this great piece from CNBC for inspiration:

If you’re reading this article at your desk and you’re sitting, get up. It is one of the best things you can do for your health. If you don’t want to stand, then do something active while you’re sitting. Millions of workers are choosing to do both, thanks to a slew of new office products that are gaining traction — and dollars — fast.

“This is no longer just a one off, it’s a product category,” said Thompson Research Group’s Kathryn Thompson, an analyst who covers the office furniture industry. “Fitness equipment is a critical part of the new office, and it’s really a critical part of the office of the future.”

The “healthy office segment” is the fastest growing sub-sector of the $10 billion office furniture industry, and Thompson estimates it could grow to one-third of the industry in the next three to five years. Workers and employers alike are demanding it. 

“Good health makes good economic sense,” Thompson said.

Attention to workplace fitness really ramped up in just the last few years, after the Mayo Clinic published a study on the detrimental effects of sitting for long periods of time. Mayo’s Dr. James Levine is credited with coining the term “sitting is the new smoking.” He is also inventor of a treadmill desk.

Read the rest of the article here…

 

Medical Records Important for Workers’ Compensation Claim

Today’s post comes from guest author Todd Bennett, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

Medical records are necessary to substantiate an injured worker’s claim. At a minimum, injured workers and attorneys need the records from doctors and hospitals to show the diagnoses the workers have and the treatment that they have received. This includes records from physical therapy, MRI, pain management, orthopedic, etc.  

Every injured worker has a right to receive her or his medical records, and by law should be able to obtain those records promptly at a fair cost.

Federal law is clear: a patient has the “right to obtain from [their health care providers] a copy of [their medical records] in an electronic format,” 42 USC § 17935(e)(1), and that health care providers may bill “only the cost of … copying, including the cost of supplies for and labor of copying,” 45 CFR 164.524(c)(4)(i). This is all part of the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH Act).

Rehm, Bennett & Moore employs the HITECH Act on behalf of injured clients to represent them in an efficient and cost-effective manner.

NPR: Coffee Workers’ Concerns Brew Over Chemical’s Link To Lung Disease

Today’s post comes from guest author Kristen Wolf, from Causey Law Firm.

Heard on Morning Edition, April 15, 2016.

Step into Mike Moon’s Madison, Wis., coffee roasting plant and the aroma of beans — from Brazil to Laos — immediately washes over you.

Moon says he aims to run an efficient and safe plant — and that starts the minute beans spill out of the roaster. He points to a cooling can that is “designed to draw air from the room over the beans and exhausts that air out of the facility. So it is really grabbing a lot of all of the gases coming off the coffee,” he explains.

Why are these gases so worrisome? Because they contain a chemical called diacetyl — a natural byproduct of the coffee roasting process that, in large concentrations, can infiltrate the lungs and cause a severe form of lung disease.

You might remember hearing about diacetyl several years ago, when a synthetic version of the chemical, which is used to give a buttery flavor to certain snack foods, was implicated in causing severe lung problems among workers at a microwave popcorn facility.

Now it looks like that chemical could affect the coffee world as well. People at home grinding or brewing up a pot need not worry, but the chemical could pose a danger to people working in commercial coffee roasting plants.

Read the rest of the story here…

 

Photo credit: Nic Taylor Photography viaFoter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

 

Work Comp Cost-Containment: IME Company May Fetch Billions

Today’s post comes from guest author Rod Rehm, from Rehm, Bennett & Moore.

In January, I wrote about how workers’ compensation has a cost-containment industrial complex that not only harms workers but also is a potential profit generator for groups like private-equity firms.

According to this link from The Wall Street Journal, a private-equity firm named Leonard Green & Partners LP recently submitted an offer to buy an IME company called Exam Works for $2.2 billion. Yes, that’s billion with a B.

“The insurance-defense-industrial-complex has become a multi-billion dollar enterprise,” as was noted on Aleksy Belcher Law Firm’s Facebook page earlier last week (Aleksy Belcher is a workers’ compensation plaintiff’s firm based in Chicago).

The Wall Street Journal article linked above talks about the hundreds of millions of dollars of revenue that Exam Works posted last year and also its purpose.

“It said it serves more than 6,000 clients globally, including property and casualty insurance carriers, law firms, third-party claim administrators and government agencies, helping them manage costs and enhance their risk-management and compliance processes,” according to The Wall Street Journal.

What this means for injured workers and their loved ones is that the big business and added bureaucracy of “cost-containment” may translate to even more profit at the expense of injured workers, going into the private-equity company’s pockets if the sale goes through.

The way IME companies are seen as potential profit centers for private-equity firms is one of the many reasons that if an IME – Independent Medical Exam – or DME – Defense Medical Exam – is ordered for an injured worker, that injured worker should seek the advice of an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer. Workers’ compensation lawyers advocate for injured workers and help them understand the workers’ compensation process, including IMEs, so the playing field of the workers’ compensation process might be a little more even. That way, cost containment, though not as profitable for private-equity firms, can give way to injured workers getting the medical treatment and compensation that they need to move on with their lives.

Book Review on “Detroit – An American Autopsy”

Charlie LeDuff’s raw and hard hitting book, “Detroit – An American Autopsy”  (287 pages) describes the underbelly of a city that was once powerful and wealthy, but now battles Baltimore for the highest murder rate of any American city and  has over 200 unclaimed bodies in the city morgue. It has areas that are vast wastelands of empty factories  and burned out houses. Firefighters, police officers and EMTs have broken down equipment, and parents have been asked to send their kids to school with toilet paper because of inadequate funding. City coffers have been looted by corrupt politicians and gangs have intimidated witnesses who can identify murderers. Hopelessness and crime go hand in hand. 

The automobile companies had gotten lazy and the good times slipped away quickly when the crash hit. When Obama sent in a team to review the financial affairs of the industry they were shocked by what they found. After looking at General Motors , for example, the team “encountered …..perhaps the weakest financial operation any of us had ever seen in a major corporation.” The end result is the dismissal of the poorest among those left behind, who are trapped and can’t get out because they have no ability to do so. Since 2000 over a quarter of a million people have left, leaving the population at  only 700,000. LeDuff was a reporter for the Detroit News and reported what he saw and  even helped  uncover corruption. At times it seemed he was the only one who cared. The unspoken message is that if this situation can develop in Detroit, it can happen anywhere.

If Detroit is to be turned around, corruption has to be stopped in its tracks and elected officials have to be held accountable. A sense of morality, fairness and human dignity need to be restored.  LeDuff summed it all up when he said, “If we are going to fix it, we are going to have to stand up and say ‘enough’ and then get on with the difficult work of cleaning it up.” This book is an eye–opener for those who live in the bubble and don’t have any idea what has happened, or what can happen,  to America.

Need Joint Replacement and on Medicare? Better Not Be Sick.

Having a lung ailment may make it more difficult to obtain coverage for joint replacement.

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

A new Medicare rule that took effect April 1, 2016 retools Medicare payments for hip and knee replacements.  Patients with serious medical conditions such as heart disease, obesity, diabetes, and lung ailments may not be able to find an orthopaedic surgeon willing to perform the joint replacement because hospitals face financial incentives to avoid patients with a high risk of complications. 

Hospitals will be given a “target price” for total joint replacements for the patient’s entire care from the hospital stay to outpatient rehabilitation through 90 days after discharge, according to a new rule from the Center for Medicare Services.  If the reimbursement is less than the target price, the hospital may receive an additional payment from Medicare as an incentive for good outcomes.  On the other hand, the hospital may be required to pay back part of their reimbursement that goes above the target.  The rule is intended to control costs on the $7 Billion Medicare spends for hospital care and for almost one-half million beneficiaries who receive a hip or knee replacement each year.  However, since Medicare will pay only one “bundled payment” for the patient’s entire care after total joint replacement surgery, the hospital will be accountable for the quality of care through the incentives and penalties.  The surgeon shares responsibility when a patient is re-admitted to the hospital and receives a “black mark” even when the re-admission has nothing to do with the joint replacement.  An unintended consequence of this payment model may be “cherry picking” of low risk patients.  Patients claiming a work-related connection to joint replacement surgery who have been denied by Medicare may face additional hurdles in obtaining their surgery. 

Stay tuned…