Workers' Compensation News - February 28, 2004 Volume 2 Issue 9
JUST PUBLISHED! 2004 SUPPLEMENT TO GELMAN ON WORKERS' COMPENSATION (West-Thomson)
These updates provide information concerning the new rules of the Division of Workers’ Compensation embodying electronic filing requirements and new procedures involving both formal and informal proceedings, motion practice, post judgment process, and judicial performance. The expanded Medicare secondary reporting requirements and the mandatory coordination of benefits are reviewed in this supplement. The recovery aspects of Medicare conditional payments as well as future medical provisions are discussed. The new Child Support Lien distribution forms, computation worksheets and judgments are provided and explained in depth.
The horrific tragedy of September 11th, 2001 and the potential impact it has upon the Workers’ Compensation system is discussed. This supplement reviews the newly enacted Smallpox Emergency Protection Act as well as recent court decisions concerning acts of terrorism. The subsequent legislative changes enacted in response to potential terrorist threats are reviewed including the Public Safety Officers’ Benefit Act as well as the liberalized legislative enactments involving rescue workers and medical personnel.
The impact of the newly promulgated Federal rules and regulations concerning medical record privacy and compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) medical authorization requirements are reviewed in this supplement and model forms are furnished. The recently enacted statutory workers' compensation coverage options available to proprietors and partners are discussed. The supplement reviews the recent court decisions expanding the responsibility of the Second Injury Fund for pre-existing medical conditions in cases in which latent diseases become manifest during retirement. The statutory enactments concerning State Temporary Disability Benefits are reviewed. The recently amended Energy Employees Occupational Illness Compensation Act is explained in detail and forms are furnished and discussed.
The recent Supreme Court decisions concerning the high judicial threshold for evaluation scientific evidence are analyzed. The requirements for proof of scientific evidence in complex workers’ compensation cases are discussed. Furthermore, the evolving and expanding issues concerning medical monitoring are reviewed.
This pocket part also discusses recent changes in the application for counsel fees. The supplement includes the newly promulgated administrative directive embodying those changes.
To Order: http:///www.gelmans.com (click or 3rd edition button)
 
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NJ LEGISLATION ATTEMPTS TO ELIMINATE BENEFITS -
WC: NJ Is About to Take A Backward Step By Adopting a Policy of Burning the Houses Down
Senator Anthony R. Bucco has reintroduced a bill to eliminate entitlement to workers' compensation cash benefits during imprisonment. The bill has advanced out of committee and is scheduled for a floor vote next week.
"This bill eliminates any worker's entitlement to cash benefits under workers' compensation for any period during which the worker is imprisoned as a result of a conviction of a criminal offense. An employer's liability to provide the worker with medical, surgical or other treatment or hospital service under workers' compensation continues during the period of imprisonment...."
Unfortunately, the bill does not address the unfortunate consequences imposed upon the children, spouse and other dependents and those receiving child support as a consequence of this shortsighted legislation which is contrary to remedial nature and social insurance theory of the Workers' Compensation Act.
NJ is about to take another step backward as it attempts to burn the houses down of the perpetrators.
http://www.njleg.state.nj.us/2004/Bills/S0500/409_I1.HTM
 
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CASES
Employee with a pre-existing back injury was deemed to have a compensable occupational back condition following constant lifting and pushing in a paint factory. Last carrier held liable and a Court appointed physician to determine whether low back pain management appropriate. "...the claimant's activities at work constituted a substantial factor in her need for management of her low back pain..." Hurley v Schulte Paint & Lacquer Manufacturing
http://www.dolir.mo.gov/lirc/wcdecisions/WCDEC04/HurleL.htm
 
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ISSUES BEFORE THE NJ SUPREME COURT
A-27-03 Galvao v. G.R. Robert Construction
Where plaintiff recovers in a workers’ compensation action against his employer for injuries incurred in a workplace accident, can he bring a subsequent tort action against two entities that are wholly owned affiliates of the employer under the facts presented?
 
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LEAD POISONING
Union of Concerned Scientists: Bush administration's Abuse of Science - LEAD
The Union of Concerned Scientists Wednesday released a statement supposedly signed by a group of about 60 scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates titled "Stop the Bush Admistration's Abuse of Science" which features lead poisoning as one area where the administration has abused science. Read the statement at:
http://www.ucsaction.org/action/display/wacmoreinfo.asp?item=15291
(Complete report)
http://www.ucsusa.org/global_environment/rsi/RSI_final_exsum.pdf
 
Editorial: NY Times
Uses and Abuses of Science
Although the Bush administration is hardly the first to politicize science, no administration in recent memory has so shamelessly distorted scientific findings for policy reasons or suppressed them when they conflict with political goals. This is the nub of an indictment delivered last week by more than 60 prominent scientists, including 20 Nobel laureates. Their statement was accompanied by a report published by the Union of Concerned Scientists, listing cases where the administration has manipulated science on environmental and other issues
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/23/opinion/23MON3.html
 
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NEW YORK
Workers’ Comp Board Processes 12,460 Appeals in 2003
Efficient Rulings Mean Claimants & Employers Get Final Answers
The New York State Workers’ Compensation Board’s Office of Appeals (OOA) issued 12,460 decisions in 2003 reducing its inventory of open appeals by 787 cases last year and by 69 percent since 2000, Interim Chairman Jeffrey R. Sweet announced today. Claims under appeal are decided by the 13 commissioners who represent the Workers’ Compensation Board.
http://www.wcb.state.ny.us/content/main/PressRe/appeals2003.htm
 
Unions Want Workers' Comp Rate Hike
New York's labor unions are urging state legislators to approve a bill that increases the weekly workers' compensation payment to $625 per week.
The measure increases the maximum workers' compensation reimbursement rate to two-thirds of the state's average weekly wage, or $625, by December 2006. Under current law workers compensation is fixed at two-thirds of the individuals average weekly wage and is capped at $400 per week.
The (Albany) Business Review
http://buffalo.bizjournals.com/buffalo/stories/2004/02/23/daily16.html?jst=b_ln_hl
 
PCI Says N.Y. Workers' Comp Benefit Increases Must Be Balanced with Reform
The New York Assembly Labor Committee on Tuesday reviewed a bill to introduce workers' compensation benefit increases that industry experts and the New York Workers' Compensation Rating Board reportedly fear will increase premiums by at least 25 percent.
"We don't necessarily oppose workers' comp benefit increases - New York has gone without them for more than a decade," said Gerald Zimmerman, assistant vice president and regional manager for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America (PCI). "But without balancing these increases with some means of reform, A.B. 9736 would stall whatever recovery we've seen in the New York economy and put the workers' comp market in jeopardy."
Insurance Journal
http://www.insurancejournal.com/news/newswire/east/2004/02/24/37090.htm
 
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FDA PRODUCT RECALL: Duragesic (fentanyl transdermal system)
Audience: Pharmacists, other healthcare professionals, and consumers
Janssen Pharmaceutica and FDA notified healthcare professionals of a Class I recall of DURAGESIC 75 mcg/h. Only Control Number 0327192 (expiration October 2005) is subject to this recall. A potential seal breach on one edge may allow drug to leak from the patch and could result in an increased absorption of the opioid component, fentanyl, leading to increased drug effect, including nausea, sedation, drowsiness, or potentially life threatening complications. Conversely, if the hydrogel contents leak out of the patch, there may not be adequate medication to treat the patients' pain. In an opioid tolerant patient, this may lead to withdrawal symptoms, which include sweating, sleeplessness and abdominal discomfort.
http://www.fda.gov/medwatch/SAFETY/2004/duragesic_recall.pdf
 
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NUCLEAR WORKERS PUT AT RISK
Lack of Safety Is Charged in Nuclear Site Cleanup
For almost half a century, the hulking factories across a vast nuclear reservation here churned out the plutonium for most of the nation's nuclear weapons stockpile, including the bomb used on Nagasaki.
NY Times
http://www.nytimes.com/2004/02/20/national/20HANF.html
 
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THE FAILED FEDERAL BERYLLIUM COMPENSATION PROGRAM
Sick Workers Seek Justice: But Many Nuclear Laborers Die Before Feds Process Claims
George Barrie and his wife, Terrie, drive down a dusty country road near Craig to their mailbox every day, hoping against hope. The Barries are checking for a letter from the government admitting that George's debilitating ailments were caused by the plutonium he inhaled at the Rocky Flats nuclear weapons plant near Denver. The fateful decision was due by the beginning of December. They are still waiting.
Rocky Mountain News
http://rockymountainnews.com/drmn/local/article/0,1299,DRMN_15_2672077,00.html
 
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CALIFORNIA REFORM STALLED IN THE LEGISLATURE
Arnold's first 100 days
His legislative agenda -- from workers' compensation reform to midyear spending cuts -- is stalled in the Legislature.
http://www.sltrib.com/2004/Feb/02222004/nation_w/141229.asp
Voters Hold the Levers of Budget Power
http://www.latimes.com
 
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SMOKE FREE WORPLACES BECOME THE LAW
Minnesota Introduces Smokefree Workplace Legislation
Minnesota became the latest state to introduce smokefree workplace legislation today, joining Rhode Island, Arizona, Maryland, Georgia, Idaho, and Washington with legislation introduced this year. California, Delaware, New York, Connecticut, Maine, and Massachusetts have already passed smokefree workplace legislation.
http://www.smokefree.net
 
Urge New Jersey Legislature to Enact Smokefree Workplace Law
http://www.smokefree.net/nj/
 
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CALENDAR
 
PEGGY BROWNING FUND 6th Annual DINNER DANCE Sat March 6, 2004 7p-midnight, honoring Wendel W. Young III (Pres UFC Local 1776) Penns Landing Caterers, Philadelphia PA
http://www.peggybrowningfund.org
The Peggy Browning Fund is a non-profit corporation established in memory of Margaret A. Browning, labor attorney and meber of the NLRB. It has a mission to provide law students with diverse, challenging work & educational experience in the area of workers' rights.
 
IAIABC 31st International Workers' Compensation College. March 14-19, 2004. Held at the Sheraton Tucson Hotel & Suites in Tucson, Arizona. Sponsored by the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). Additional information: IAIABC, 5610 Medical Circle, Suite 24, Madison, WI 53711 (608/663-6355). Website:
http://www.iaiabc.org
 
NJ ICLE - NJ WILG: Top Ten Hot Issues in Workers' Compensation - Wednesday, April 14:, 2004 -NJ / ICLE, New Brunswick, NJ
http://www.njicle.com
 
NYCOSH’S 25th Anniversary Awards Celebration, Friday, May 14th, 2004 6 - 8:30 P.M.
http://www.nycosh.org/calendar.html
 
NCSI 2004 Annual National Council of Self-Insurers Meeting. May 16-19, 2004. Held at the Don CeSar Beach Resort & Spa in St. Petersburg, Florida. Additional information: Larry Holt, Executive Director, National Council of Self-Insurers, 1253 Springfield Avenue, PMB 345, New Providence, NJ 07974 (908/665-2152). Website:
http:// www.natcouncil.com
 
CMS Regional Conference - Medicare Secondary Payer - Jun 23-25, 2004 - Atlanta GA
http://www.mediproseminars.com/
 
SAWCA 56th Annual Convention. June 21-25, 2004. Held at the Inn at Loretto in Santa Fe, New Mexico. Sponsored by: SAWCA (Southern Association of Workers' Compensation Administrators), 25 Lazy Eight Drive, Port Orange, FL 32128 (386/304-1993).
 
SEAK 24t Annual National Workers' Compensation and Occupational Medicine Seminar. July 20-22, 2004. Held at the Sheraton Hyannis Resort in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Sponsored by SEAK, Inc., P.O. Box 729, Falmouth, MA 02541 (781-261-9972). Website:
http://www.seak.com
 
AASCIF 2004 American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds Conference. August 1-4, 2004. Held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Additional information: (952/838-4245) or
http://www.aascif.org
 
AIABC 90th Annual I Convention. August 5-10, 2004. Held at the Sheraton New York Hotel & Towers in New York City. Sponsored by the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions (IAIABC). Additional information: IAIABC (608/663-6355). Website:
http://www.iaiabc.org