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October 29, 2003 7:00 PM
Workers’ Compensation News - October 30, 2003 Volume 1 Issue 30

 -The Garamendi Plan - Workers' Compensation: Completing The Reform - 24 hour medical care 
-CMS Just Released Summary of the "Open Door" Forum on Medicare Secondary Payer Act 

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Garamendi Takes On Workers' Comp Reforms
"Lawyers and doctors in all too many cases are abusing the system," he said. California's insurance chief, saying the Legislature's recent overhaul of the state's workers' compensation system was "inadequate," on Wednesday called for additional reforms including further cutbacks to outpatient surgical centers and a crackdown on costly litigation. 
LA Times (Free registration)

Workers’ comp reform not done
Schwarzenegger vow set the stage to revisit the issue once he’s in office
Charles Bacchi of the California Chamber of Commerce said it’s hard even to discuss permanent disability rationally because it is the basis of the livelihood of many politically powerful attorneys. "It is the Holy Grail for applicants’ attorneys," Bacchi said. "This is going to be way tougher than (this) year." 
The Desert Sun

One in four asthma cases linked to work
Over a quarter of all asthma cases could be related to work, according to a new study. US researchers found people working in the cleaning, farming and transportation industries are among the most likely to develop asthma as a result of their jobs. Other jobs that carried a high risk of causing or aggravating asthma and breathing problems in workers included those associated with entertainment, protective services, mining, construction, mechanics, textile, and fabrication. Overall, the authors discovered that an estimated 26 per cent of cases of asthma in adults are caused or aggravated by the workplace environment. Dr George Delclos, co-author of the study, published in the October 2003 issue of the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, said: 'If you were to intervene in these cases, you might be able to reduce cases of asthma by around 26 per cent in adults,' equivalent to the proportion of asthma attributable to the workplace.
Ahmed A Arif, George L Delclos and others. Occupational exposures associated with work-related asthma and work-related wheezing among US workers, AJIM, vol.44, issue 4, pages 368-376, 2003 [abstract]. Reuters Health. 

Unions sue government for better safety standards
Two US unions have filed legal proceedings against the Labor Department in a bid to win better safety standards. The United Auto Workers (UAW) and the United Steelworkers of America (USWA) suit against US Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao, seeks to compel the official safety watchdog OSHA to set clean air standards in US factories. The lawsuit asks the court to order OSHA to issue standards reducing the permissible exposure to metalworking fluids. 'The UAW petitioned OSHA to take action on metalworking fluids 10 years ago,' said UAW president Ron Gettelfinger. 'Since then, millions of factory workers have been exposed to these hazardous chemicals. Tragically, some have developed asthma, pulmonary fibrosis or other severe respiratory ailments, while others have cancer because of the metalworking fluid mists they’ve been forced to breathe at work.' Gettlefinger added: 'Our lawsuit with the Steelworkers seeks to right this wrong, and offer our members and other workers who are exposed to these chemicals the protection they deserve.'
Reuters Health

"...We hold that the requirements of Daubert/Alberico do not apply to the testimony of a health care provider..."
BANKS, Worker-Respondent,v.IMC KALIUM CARLSBAD POTASH CO. and Crawford & Co., Employer/Insurer-Petitioners.
NM Supreme Court, 2003 WL 22415989

Workers’ Compensation Crisis Revisited (Oct. 24, 2003)
Workers’ compensation systems across the country are once again in a full-fledged crisis, marked by high premiums and low benefits. Workers’ compensation costs in private industry rose 17.1 percent from January 2002 to June 2003, the highest increase in any component of compensation. 
LRA Online

The workers' comp and insurance industries sought and won financial guarantees from Congress 
Risk & Insurance

The Washington Business Group on Health is the national voice of large employers dedicated to finding innovative and forward-thinking solutions to the nation's health care.
A new debate over health care for all


Docket No.: a2672-01 Decided: 27-Oct-2003 Caption: ROBERT L. FISHER, et al. v. SEARS, ROEBUCK & CO. Summary: PARRILLO, J.A.D.
Plaintiffs Robert L. Fisher, Sr., Administrator, and Loretta Fisher, Administratrix ad Prosequendum, and General Administrators of the Estate of Robert L. Fisher, Jr., appeal from entry of an order on December 12, 2001, granting summary judgment in favor of defendant Sears, Roebuck & Co. (Sears or defendant), dismissing their wrongful death action. In this appeal, we are once again asked to determine whether the exclusive-remedy provision of the workers' compensation statute, N.J.S.A. 34:15-8, bars plaintiffs from filing a common law tort action against decedent's employer. This time, however, the incident giving rise to the cause of action did not occur in the typical industrial-manufacturing setting, but rather in the parking lot of a Sears store where decedent was killed by two armed robbers while transporting $7000 in cash proceeds from one facility to another within defendant's Hackensack complex.

Docket No.: a6671-01 Decided: 27-Oct-2003 Caption: DANA M. WARNIG v. ATLANTIC COUNTY SPECIAL SERVICES, et al. Summary: BRAITHWAITE, J.A.D.
The issue presented in this appeal is whether an insurer who pays benefits to its insured pursuant to the extended medical expense benefit ("Med-Pay") may be reimbursed for this payment in a workers' compensation proceeding pursuant to N.J.S.A. 39:6A-6. The Judge of Compensation held that the insured could not be reimbursed because the statute did not apply to Med-Pay benefits. We agree and affirm.

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