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WCRI 2018 Conference Boston MA – Blogging It Live


It is now time for the WCRI 2018 Conference live blogging. Please excuse any typos.   I am doing this live while the conference is proceeding.  If you want to check out any of the blogging live conferences I have done check here.

Thursday WCRI 2018 Conference Schedule

Dr. Erica Goshen – Visiting Senior Scholar- School of Industrial and Labor Relations  – Former Commissioner of BLS


WCRI 2018 Conference Commisioner Groshen picture


March 22, 2018 | 9:15 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.

Dr. Erica L. Groshen, former head of the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

The labor market is getting a great deal of attention these days. This is not surprising as the enormous, complex market strongly affects peoples’ lives.

They are asking: Is the economy as tight as a 4% unemployment rate suggests? How are artificial intelligence, robots, driverless cars, gig work, and more-fissured workplaces changing work as we know it? Should we trust and support official labor statistics in the era of big data and “fake news”?

Dr. Groshen will answer those questions.  She will look at a variety of measures to assess current labor market conditions. Turning to the future of work, she will argue that much of the hype about the future of work is either far too optimistic or too pessimistic. In addition, she will talk about how official statistics are more important than ever. They are the information infrastructure that we all need to see through the haze, so that we make good decisions for our companies, our communities and ourselves.

Major workforce issues – 


Unemployment rate = 4.1%, 10% in 2010

Formula    # unemployed/(#employed + # unemployed)

U-4 Discouraged Workers

U-5  Marginally attached workers

U-6 Part-time for economic reasons

Quits > actually a sign of strength

U6 is now 8.2%

Long term unemployment = 20.7%   Still very high

Quits = 2.2%

Layoff = 1.2%

Inflation adjusted hourly wage = 0.0    Flat

2.5% Compensation growth

Productivity 241.8% but hourly compensation 115.4%  – companies holding their money

Future of Work

Gig work –  Short Jobs 

  • Alternative Work arrangements – Multiple Employers or None
  • Contingent Work – Temporary

Reasons for growth of Gig Jobs

  • Efficiency
  • Fast pace of change

Transfers Risk from Employer to Worker

  • Weaker employer responsibility to protect workers
  • Less stability for workers
  • Less employer provided training

Mismeasurement of Gig Jobs may be due to misreporting by survey respondents

Contingent worker survey was last done in 2005, again in 2017 – needs to be update more often?

Artificial Intelligence

AI – replicates routine brainwork

Techno pessimists and optimists both wrong

Coming gradually to workplaces – increasing stress

BLS Mission

Labor Market Activity

Working Conditions

Price Changes in the Economy

Collect, analyze, and disseminate economic information

Support private and public decision making

Data needs to be AORTA-  Accurate Objective

Users of BLS –

  • Feds
  • State and Local Government
  • Businesses
  • Households

Challenges – 

  • Measuring dynamic economy
  • Maintain survey participation
  • Preserving public trust and independence
  • Protecting cyber-security and confidentiality

WCRI 2018 Conference


WCRI 2018 Conference Picture of Value Base Care Presentation

March 22, 2018 | 10:35 a.m. – 11:20 a.m. 

Dr. Randall Lea, WCRI

Healthcare reform has been associated with the emergence of new care delivery and payment models. Are stakeholders (payers, regulators, physicians, and health systems) prepared to use these post-reform models?

Major Theme – Stakeholder Readiness 

Most providers were not that excited about value-based care:

  • No opportunities
  • Fee schedule attorney driven

Payers – not that enthused about value based care – could be faddish – not catch on

Regulators – self interest and educational

Conclusion – apprehension – but there is value based care in practice

Value based care needs a good regulatory environment

Payers +Regulators –

  • Do not change the current rules
  • Dispute resolution procedure

What providers would like use Value Based Care?

  • Autonomous
  • Innovative
  • Competitive Edge
  • Direct volume
  • Conservative and qualified

Who are the most important parties in VBC?  Patients 

VBC in Workers Compensation changes the rules when looked at as a formula

Providers want to create new VBC codes or Board of Physicians

Desired Providers Workers Comp Outcomes:

Return to work speed

Level of work

Stable and sustained Return to Work

Possibly Workers Comp can create a model that health insurance will follow as the main determinant of social/mental recovery is returning to gainful employment   


WCRI 2018 Conference Picture of Pharmacy Management Program

March 22, 2018 | 11:20 a.m. – 12 Noon

Dr. Terrence B. Welsh, Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

In 2011, the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (OBWC) found that more than 8,000 injured workers were opioid-dependent for taking the equivalent of at least 60 mg a day of morphine for 60 or more days.

By the end of 2017, that number was reduced to 3,315, which meant 4,714 fewer injured workers were at risk for opioid addiction, overdose, and death than in 2011.

In this session, Dr. Welsh, OBWC’s chief medical officer, will discuss the initiation of the Bureau’s interventions to address the opioid epidemic, the impact of those interventions, and what the OBWC has on the horizon to build on its successes.
Ohio Workers Comp vs Opioids-
  • 8,029 injured workers on opioids
  • 47,680 inured workers receiving an opioid RX
  • 73% of injured workers population receiving opioids
  • 39.9 million opioid doses prescribed
  • 58 inured workers > 1,000 mg of morphine

Progress Notes 

  • Reduced heavy opioid use patients to just two (97% decrease)
  • Reduced 28% from 2012 – overall RX’s

Ohio BWC Backround

  • State Funded monopolistic carrier
  • Pharmacy management in house
  • 100,000 claims per year

Closed Formulary -truly closed formulary – covered all RX’s for WC


Questions –

  • Tom Lynch – Lynch Ryan – 18 month treatment program – can that work for other organizations   – Yes
  • Are we over-emphasizing the reduction of opioids? – No
  • Resistance from patients and physician how to handle – Still freedom of choice 
  • Any limits?  30 doses / 7 days



WCRI 2018 Conference - Dr. Richard Victor portrait photo

March 22, 2018 | 1:30 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.

Dr. Richard Victor, The Sedgwick Institute

The pace of change continues to accelerate. Globalization, the delivery and financing of healthcare, the aging workforce, immigration, political dysfunction, and the need to repay the enormous underfunded public debt Boomers have incurred. These forces will shape the next several decades.

Workers’ compensation systems represent one of this nation’s most successful social safety net programs. Workers’ compensation has evolved in response to external change over more than a century. However, can it successfully continue to evolve when faced with the convergence of accelerating external changes? Will these forces create existential challenges to workers’ compensation systems?

In this session, Dr. Victor will examine the external forces, their effect on workers’ compensation, and alternative scenarios wherein workers’ compensation systems are more and less successful in meeting the challenges.

One of my favorite Workers Comp authors 

100 Years of Success

Social Safety net element for 100 years

2030 Workers Compensation

WC Costs Triple

External Forces –

Dominant Forces –

  • Emerging Labor Shortages
  • Case shifting to non-oocupational health insurance

Millions of workers losing health insurance

  •  Aging workforce
  • Federal immigration policies and practices

# of claims = use 100% an an index

2030 -73% of claims than 2017

Effect of Aging workers  has little impact

Labor shortage caused by retiring Boomers

WC costs will increase:

  • Shortage of healthcare staffs delays medical care and RTW
  • WC  industry firms shortages to handle claims

Future Labor Force = .7 % growth vs. 2017 at 3.0%

Job fill rates has now gone below 1.2%  index

Why Injury Rate Increase?

  • Employers relax hiring standards – hire less capable or with a weaker connection to the workforce
  • Recent Surveys  53% of managers hired people not really qualified
  • 44 of employers are recruiting outside of the talent pool

Tight labor market increased indemnity claims by 5.3% – WCRI former study

Labor saving technologies will reduce labor force

Immigration and their Us-born offspring  projected to drive growth of US Labor Force

After Brexit – 96% fewer European nurses ti Work in UK

Case-shifting – Dr. Victor wrote many article on this theory –  Check one article here 

Case shifting is not cost shifting

Case shifting does not require fraud

Case-shifting by inured workers increases claims by 25%

Rand Corp – 36% of high deductible people do not seek care

Uninsured workers have the strongest financial incentive to attribute their medical problem to work

The number of uninsured workers expected to increase as ACA provisions are repealed or weakened

Summary  – cases increased by 55% by 2030 (Wow!)

State government has little influence

Solutions by state government are unlikely

  1. May fracture the grand bargain
  2. WC is too small
  3. May meet successful constitutional challenge
  4. Each year the legislators are becoming more polarized

Stakeholders may become more open to a paradigm shift if state governments have little effect

Who should be responsible for providing these benefits?

  • Employers – e.g. . ERISA opt plans
  • Workers – not sure what this would look  like
  • Academics – OMG!
  • Hybrid approach

Employees + Employers work together 

  • Union carve outs
  • Opt out with tort safety valve
  • Make claims organization accountable to both employers and workers – similar to group health insurance
  • Super carve out – both union and nonunion work place


Picture of Opioids computer wcri 2018 conference

​March 22, 2018 | 2:50 p.m. – 4:05 p.m.


Dr. Bogdan Savych, WCRI

Jane Terry, National Safety Council

Joan Vincenz, United Airlines


In this session, Dr. Savych will discuss WCRI’s latest research on how opioid prescriptions impact duration of disability for injured workers.

Jane Terry from the National Safety Council will discuss the results from a recent survey they commissioned on how American employers are dealing with prescription drugs in the workplace.

Lastly, Joan Vincenz from United Airlines will share what her company is doing to address these important issues.


Dr. Savych – great variation in prescribing patters,  24 – 58% of workers with paid had TWO opioid prescriptions


Opiods – do they affect period of disability?

  • simulated random assignment using statistical measures
  • 62% of cases had opioid RX in Philadephia
  • 71% had RX for opioid in Harrisburg PA
  • 251% Change in TTD Period due to opioid use 
  • 3 or more opioid RX – 52% increase in TTD period
  • Little effect of impact of small number or RX’s over short period

Jane Terry – National Safety Council

More than 70% of employers have been impacted by RX’s

28% of employers are unprepared to deal with the epidemic

33% of painkiller users do not know they were taking opioids

76% do not train employees to identify signs of misuse

29% of smaller employers are not prepared to deal with opioid RX effects

5 days less work days per year for non opiod using employees

Each employee who recovers from a Substance abuse disorders save an employer more than $3,200 per year

Every 24 minutes an American dies from a prescription opioid overdose

Last year 22,000 Americans died from RX opioids

Recommends Warn Me Labels to let pharmacist now if you are prescribed an opioid, then the pharmacist need to talk to you.

Joan Vincenz – United Airlines

United Airlines has Workers Compensation Mission Statement

Proprietary Statistics —–<<<<<<cannot blog them

Employees split among above the wing, below the wing, and flight attendants

Onsite clinics are invaluable – see my Six Keys #2

Questions –

What level is best to talk to / – State or Federal level – Answer – State level best, but most are out of session for this year

One or two RX’s are not that significant, but that varies from some of the other research.    Answer – there are difference among studies, more questions than answers, need to have researchers talk to each other to figure out why the differences.

Adjournment of WCRI 2018 Conference for Thursday.


March 23, 2018 | 9:30 a.m. – 10:15 a.m.


This session will feature selective findings from WCRI’s CompScope™ Benchmarks reports. With these studies, stakeholders, public officials, and policymakers can monitor their systems on a regular basis and make important interstate comparisons. By identifying incremental changes in system performance―either improvement or possible deterioration, goals can be set, improvements accomplished, and crises avoided.

The following are the titles and presenters for this session:

Trends in Physical Medicine Services

Dr. Rebecca Yang, WCRI


Findings for Tennessee from CompScope Benchmarks

Ms. Evelina Radeva, WCRI


Time From Injury To Medical Treatment: How States Compare

Ms. Carol Telles, WCRI

Tennessee Reforms and The Associated Data

Permanent Partial Disability

PPD Claims In Tennessee – Average PPD benefits were third highest in all study states

Before 2013 reforms TN had maximum PPD multiplier

Compscope(r) looked at TN with lagging data from 24 to 36 months during certain time periods

After 2013 reforms  24% decrease

Average PPD in 2013 14,090  After reform 10,708

TN created new court of WC claims in the reforms

TN claimant attorney decreased from 31% to 21% – Incredible Statistic

Rebecca Yang

From Compscope Medical Study

Shift from physical medicine from hospital to non-hospital

  • Fee schedules
  • Reimbursement Amounts

Hospital outpatient use decreased 6%

Cost Factor

  1. Physical Medicine $41 -Oupatient
  2. In hospital $60


Physical Medicine Hospital outpatient decreased 9%  after reforms

North Carolina

Physical Medicine  Hospital outpatient – decreased 9% after reforms

Carol Telles

Time for the i injured worker to receive medical treatment 

Faster the worker receives treatment the better the outcome

Administrative delays in the medical treatment system

Little variation in time to first medical treatment

Objective injuries and subjective injuries had great variation

Objective injuries = fractures, lacerations, contusions

Subjective injuries = sprains, strains, etc

Subjective injuries had a much greater delay in receiving medical treatment

Louisiana seemed to have the highest delay in providing medical treatment than other study states 

North Carolina and California also had various delays 

Wisconsin and Pennsylvania tended to  had faster treatment timelines

NC CA, and Louisiana had more delays

Still more research needed in medical treatment delays between the states

Questions –

Have the researchers expanded the delay time study into other claims components – No


March 23, 2018 | 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. 

Dr. David Bradford, University of Georgia

As medical marijuana remains a complex issue in both the workers compensation arena and elsewhere, we strive to find pertinent studies that will inform.

In this session, Dr. Bradford will share the results of his recent studies looking at the effect medical marijuana programs have on prescription drug spending. These studies review data from Medicare Part D and Medicaid and focus on drugs used to treat clinical conditions for which marijuana might be a potential alternative treatment.


Although Dr. Bradford’s studies look at the impact of medical marijuana on other social insurance programs, but not workers’ compensation, the results are suggestive of what might be found in workers’ compensation for work-related conditions.

Dr. W. David Bradford – University of Georgia

The effect of marijuana laws cause a shift in RX spending?

Intense policy debate – 9 states had medical marijuana on ballots

91% of Americans say that it is OK to have medical marijuana

Most states approved medical marijuana in 2014-2015

48 states have some type of medical marijuana policy

Oregon allows 24 ounces of marijuana 

Marijuana is still a Schedule I drug – along the lines of LSD and Heroin

Study of 10,000 studies was performed by National Academies of Science – The Health Effects of Cannabis showed that it does have benefits

Are the cannabis policies just a backdoor to recreational access? 

  • 132,000,000 observations
  • Medicare Part D data used
  • When marijuana laws are enacted, RX’s reduced by a significant amount
  • -1,826 RX’s per day for pain
  • I f all states enacted Medical marijuana laws, the savings to Medicare D would be over $1 Billion 

Medicare  + Medicaid savings would be $3.4 billion if all states enacted MML.

9% reduction in opioids in states that have MML.

Mortality from opiates overdoes significantly reduced with MML.

25% reduction in opiate overdoses in New York (?)


March 23, 2018 | 11:05 a.m. – 12:15 p.m.              

Denise Algire, Albertsons Companies  

Charlie Kingdollar, General Reinsurance Corporation (GenRe)

Judge David Langham, Florida Office of Judges of Compensation Claims

Steve Tolman, president of the Massachusetts AFL-CIO 


This session will leverage the panel’s insights as they identify future trends and predict implications for the workers’ compensation system, including how system features like safety, insurance, and the workplace will be impacted.

The following are some of the questions they will address:

  • Will robots take our jobs?
  • Will the workplace be safer with automation or less safe with undertrained independent contractors?
  • How will we insure the new workplace?
  • Will new legal cases arise around independent contractors and on-the-job injuries?

Roundtable Panel

AI – Views on how it changes the Workforce – Ruser

Algire – Will actually create more jobs, use automation in the heavier manual labor jobs  Less injuries with automation, no 100%  automation of truck drivers

Kingdollar – Robotics will replace white collar jobs, too.   Truck drivers will be replaced by autonomous vehicles

Tolman – clearly threat to middle class, great if workers share in the prosperity, driverless cars not good automation, downward pressure on jobs and wages

Langham – attrition, same as the agrarian to industrial switch, 20th century law for 21st century decisions, job goals should be 5 years spans


Gig Economy – Effect on workforce – Ruser

Kingdollar – temporary situation

Tolman – Uber/Lyft should count contractors as employees, how do we allow Uber to come into a city with no regulations

Langham – Legislative response – TN passed laws that made Uber drive independent contractors, FL just passed laws on independent contractors , Grubhub in CA ruled not employees, but Uber drivers are – Which laws are interpreted – State of Federal?   Labor is cheaper in other countries due to less regulations

Algire – GenX and GenY workers are used to short term span of work, should benefits be portable?


Saffety – Workplace safety – Ruser

Tolman – President Trump signed Executive Order that companies do not have to keep list of injuries(?), safety is not as important now, Gig economy has lowered safety

Ruser – uptick in MA and US  death rates – due to opioids

Kingdollar – nanotechnologies – nanomaterials- certain companies provide no safety, 300 studies


Shifting demographics – Ruser –

Algire – quite a concern for older workers, increased injury frequency in the first 6 months, to be competitive grocery retailers are now  using apps to shop for groceries, workers safety has changed, motor vehicles accidents increased

Langham – immigrants effect (Ruser) – immigrants stay very close to their communities – undocumented workers are being exploited by company owners from the same country, workers comp claims not reported then they go on public assistance, consumer are going to drive the change

Tolman – undocumented workers not even being able to seek treatment due to current immigration laws , retail businesses are facing tsunami of job losses due to automation

Kingdollar – average retirement age has increased greatly for Baby Boomers, still employed


Legal Challenges – Ruser

Langham – FL cap on benefits at 104 weeks ruled unconstitutional, states are now capping WC benefits, many claimant attorneys would rather be in a tort system, challenges will be repeated in other jurisdictions, decisions have been made on opioids,

Tolman – MA WC Board has a monitoring area for opioids, pharmaceutical companies have ruined workers, opioids should be banned,


Other observations – Ruser

Algire – Automation actually helps workers, will create more and different jobs, need to better educate workers

Kingdollar – White collar jobs – Japanese life insurer cut employees by 30% due to AI, 44,000 man-hours cut by Zurich UK

Langham – Change is coming, only constant will be change, how we react to changing workplace will be key,  naive to think things will always be the same

Tolman – should be paying attention to all levels of government, no respect for human capital, allow workers to share in the prosperity of job change


Questions –

Steven Porches (?) has been doing studies in the area for many years – no bad behavior but instead adaptation

Exposure to nanomaterials i everyday living – would a claim be accepted?

Algire – engage all stakeholders, communication is the main required skill , OSHA has looked at severity of injuries when working with automation, customer service from retailer’s biggest mistake is to reduce service to a level where people will order online

Kingdollar – $2,5 billion in lost premium in WC, it is the concentration of nano-materials

Langham – WC job injuries and transferable skills analysis are appearing in claims, re-employing the injured workers is becoming more difficult ,


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James J Moore - Workers Comp Expert

Raleigh, NC, United States

About The Author...

James founded a Workers’ Compensation consulting firm, J&L Risk Management Consultants, Inc. in 1996. J&L’s mission is to reduce our clients’ Workers Compensation premiums by using time-tested techniques. J&L’s claims, premium, reserve and Experience Mod reviews have saved employers over $9.8 million in earned premiums over the last three years. J&L has saved numerous companies from bankruptcy proceedings as a result of insurance overpayments.

James has over 27 years of experience in insurance claims, audit, and underwriting, specializing in Workers’ Compensation. He has supervised, and managed the administration of Workers’ Compensation claims, and underwriting in over 45 states. His professional experience includes being the Director of Risk Management for the North Carolina School Boards Association. He created a very successful Workers’ Compensation Injury Rehabilitation Unit for school personnel.

James’s educational background, which centered on computer technology, culminated in earning a Masters of Business Administration (MBA); an Associate in Claims designation (AIC); and an Associate in Risk Management designation (ARM). He is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) and a licensed financial advisor. The NC Department of Insurance has certified him as an insurance instructor. He also possesses a Bachelors’ Degree in Actuarial Science.

LexisNexis has twice recognized his blog as one of the Top 25 Blogs on Workers’ Compensation. J&L has been listed in AM Best’s Preferred Providers Directory for Insurance Experts – Workers Compensation for over eight years. He recently won the prestigious Baucom Shine Lifetime Achievement Award for his volunteer contributions to the area of risk management and safety. James was recently named as an instructor for the prestigious Insurance Academy.

James is on the Board of Directors and Treasurer of the North Carolina Mid-State Safety Council. He has published two manuals on Workers’ Compensation and three different claims processing manuals. He has also written and has been quoted in numerous articles on reducing Workers’ Compensation costs for public and private employers. James publishes a weekly newsletter with 7,000 readers.

He currently possess press credentials and am invited to various national Workers Compensation conferences as a reporter.

James’s articles or interviews on Workers’ Compensation have appeared in the following publications or websites:

  • Risk and Insurance Management Society (RIMS)
  • Entrepreneur Magazine
  • Bloomberg Business News
  • WorkCompCentral.com
  • Claims Magazine
  • Risk & Insurance Magazine
  • Insurance Journal
  • Workers Compensation.com
  • LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites
  • Various trade publications


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