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March 09, 2004 9:09 PM
Workers' Compensation News - March 10, 2004 Volume 2 Issue 11 CompAssist (tm)

WHO WILL MANAGE SSA - CMS (The people who enforce Medicare Secondary Payment laws)
HHS Secretary Thompson Criticizes Opposition to Nomination of FDA Head McClellan as CMS Administrator
HHS Secretary Tommy Thompson on Tuesday "blasted back" at senators who threatened to delay the confirmation of FDA Commissioner Mark McClellan as CMS administrator, CongressDaily reports. At least three senators -- John McCain (R-Ariz.), Byron Dorgan (D-N.D.) and Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.) -- have announced plans to delay a final confirmation vote on McClellan because of his opposition to prescription drug reimportation (Rovner, CongressDaily, 3/3). McClellan has said that he opposes the practice because FDA cannot certify the safety of prescription drugs reimported from Canada and other nations. Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) and ranking member Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.) have agreed to approve the nomination of McClellan. The agreement will allow the full Senate to vote on the nomination before a one-week recess scheduled to begin at the end of next week. Under the agreement, the committee on Monday will hold a hearing on the nomination and will vote by Tuesday (Kaiser Daily Health Poli Report, 3/2). Thompson said that senators who plan to delay a final confirmation vote on McClellan "can get what they want without convincing either Thompson or McClellan to do anything" on reimportation, CongressDaily reports. According to Thompson, lawmakers could pass legislation that would allow the practice without certification by the HHS secretary, a requirement included in past reimportation bills approved by Congress (CongressDaily, 3/3). 
Source: Kaiser Health Foundation 

Health Care To Affect General Election
Kerry is now "girding for a sea change in the nature of" his presidential bid, as he prepares to launch a general election campaign against President Bush, according to the Times (New York Times, 3/3). Although exit polls showed that about 33% of voters in Tuesday's races said that the economy and jobs were the top issues in the election, "far outpacing other issues such as health care and the war in Iraq," Bush and Kerry are both seeking to use health care as an issue in their campaign platforms, the AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press reports (Lester, AP/St. Paul Pioneer Press, 3/3). Bush is aiming to use last year's enactment of the Medicare law to tout his record on health care,according to the Detroit Free Press. However, Kerry yesterday "blast[ed] Bush's tax cuts for the rich and promis[ed] he will close tax loopholes, offer new incentives for manufacturers, protect the environment, raise the minimum wage and cut health care costs," the Free Press reports (Detroit Free Press, 3/3).

SECOND INJURY FUND-A thing of the past?
S.C. Plan to Raid Second Injury Fund Could Leave Insurers with More Assessments
Consistent with a national trend of eliminating SIF funds and initially raiding their bank accounts for a State's general assessments South Carolina plans to follow suit. Historically, the ABA section on WC had attempted to pass a resolution recommending elimination of all SIFs. 
In South Carolina, the House Ways and Means Committee has approved a clause in the budget that would eliminate the state's Second Injury Fund (SIF).
Insurance Journal 02/23/2004

SC Drops Plan to Divert Millions from Second Injury Fund
In a move supported by the American Insurance Association (AIA), South Carolina House leaders yesterday decided against appropriating $40 million from the state workers’ compensation Second Injury Fund (SIF) to help balance the state’s budget

COPD - Deadly Serious
Looking at the Patient — Approaching the Problem of COPD
Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is currently the fourth leading cause of death in the United States and is expected to become the third leading cause of death by 2020. Cigarette smoking is the major risk factor, but as many as 20 percent of patients who have COPD or die from the disease are lifelong nonsmokers. Despite its importance as a public health problem, COPD is vastly underappreciated. It is underdiagnosed and, when diagnosed, commonly undertreated. 
New England Journal of Medicine

Mix of Chemicals Plus Stress Damages Brain, Liver in Animals and Likely in Humans
Stress is a well known culprit in disease, but now researchers have shown that stress can intensify the effects of relatively safe chemicals, making them very harmful to the brain and liver in animals and likely in humans, as well.

The World Trade Center Worker and Volunteer Medical Screening Program is a comprehensive medical evaluation program to provide free and confidential medical exams, referrals for medical care, and occupational health education for 8,500 workers and volunteers who provided Rescue, Recovery, Debris Removal and Sifting and Restoration of Vital Support Services at the WTC and Staten Island Landfill sites. The Program is directed by The Mount Sinai Center for Occupational and Environmental Medicine, in partnership with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, with medical examinations and related services performed by a consortium of occupational medicine providers.

Everyday household items - like toys, cosmetics, TVs, washing powders, clothes and furniture - contain man-made chemicals. Some chemicals are known to be toxic and we know very little about many others. 

Asbestos in the workplace: a difficult legacy 
Once used nearly universally for its fire-retardant qualities, asbestos - and the illnesses it causes - has become a major issue for the industries which used and produced it as well as individuals who contracted various diseases and cancers as a result of exposure in the workplace. Journalist Andrew Bibby examines the state of asbestos litigation today, and how workers and employers are facing up to the problem. 
International Labour Organization

Asbestos poisoning was covered up by doctors, claims health team
New Delhi Ganapati Mudur 
Doctors in India are under pressure to label patients with asbestos poisoning as having tuberculosis or bronchitis and to underplay the health impact of asbestos, a public health team has said. 
Many thousands of people in India suffer from lung diseases caused by exposure to asbestos, occupational health specialists said at a press conference last week, reiterating their demand for a ban on asbestos.
BMJ 2003;327:248 (2 August), doi:10.1136/bmj.327.7409.248-c

Buy Your Work Comp Coverage At Walmart
Sam's Club, a division of Bentonville, Ark.-based Wal-Mart Stores Inc., plans to begin offering group health insurance to small businesses in Indiana, Ohio and eight other states. 

Insurance Carrier Estopped From Denial After Acceptance of 2d Opinion
Employer was not authorized to revoke amended acceptance of workers' compensation claim, after claimant injured his back when he fell from a ladder, notwithstanding that employer's physician consultant changed his opinion after a second MRI was taken, and concluded that claimant's compression fracture must have occurred before the fall; consultant's second opinion was not "later- obtained" evidence, inasmuch as employer had the second opinion almost one month before it reaffirmed its acceptance of the claim in the amended acceptance.
In the Matter of the Compensation of Keith A. Cooper
2003 WL 23303865 (Or.App.)
WestLaw $ www.westlaw.com

"We knew that you will never lose sight of the fact that perhaps the greatest hazard in your plant is with men handling asebstos. Because just as certain as death and taxes is the fact that if you inhale asbestos dust you get asbestosis."
National Gypsum Inter-Office Correspondence 22 Sept. 1958


WORKERS’ COMPENSATION Current & Emerging Issues - Sat. March 27, 2004 - Schmidt Labor Research Center University of Rhode Island 

NJ ICLE - NJ WILG: Top Ten Hot Issues in Workers' Compensation - Wednesday, April 14:, 2004 -NJ / ICLE, New Brunswick, NJ 

NOSSCR Social Security Disability Law Conference - National Organization of Social Security Claimants' Representatives - May 12-15, 2004 San Diego, CA - Topics include intensive medical issues to Medicare and how it impacts WC. San Diego Marriott Hotel and Marina 

NYCOSH’S 25th Anniversary Awards Celebration, Friday, May 14th, 2004 6 - 8:30 P.M. 

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 

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: 

AASCIF 2004 American Association of State Compensation Insurance Funds Conference. August 1-4, 2004. Held in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Additional information: (952/838-4245) or 

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: 

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