News Bulletins

In local news:

The Legislature is advancing HB 192, which would limit most opioid prescriptions to seven days. The House Health and Welfare Committee on Wednesday unanimously agreed to move forward with the measure, and lawmakers took a step toward establishing an advisory panel to help coordinate the state’s prevention and education efforts in response to the drug. Further, the state Senate has signed off on legislation (SB 55) that would require that doctors and other prescribers consult the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program before any opioid, and undergo three hours of continuing medical education every three years.

Read more from the Advocate here.

In medical news:

A new analysis found that patients receiving higher doses of opioids experienced worse outcomes, including greater pain intensity and poorer quality of life. The study, by researchers at Veterans Affairs (VA) and Kaiser Permanente health systems, involved the administration of a battery of self-report measures to over 500 patients with chronic musculoskeletal pain treated with long-term opioid therapy. Their findings were published online in the Journal of Pain.

Read more from Pharmacy Practice News here.

In industry news:

Injured workers will now be able to meet with physicians specialized in workers’ compensation injuries by phone or video when their employers participate in Coventry’s telemedicine program. Coventry is expanding its PPO Network offering to include Telemedicine network partners such as Kura MD. This use of telemedicine will initially be through Coventry’s nurse triage service, NT24.

Read more here.

In regulatory news:

In a White House news release dated April 21st, the administration announced that President Trump nominated Heather L. MacDougall of Florida to be a Member of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. MacDougall was designated acting Chair of the Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission in January 2017. In 2014, she was nominated to the Commission by then-President Obama and confirmed unanimously by the Senate. Before this, MacDougall had 20 years of experience representing employers throughout the United States in matters involving labor, employment, and occupational safety and health law.

Read more here.

In national news:

VICE News covered the Texas workers’ comp system with an eye toward alternative benefit plans. One attorney featured in the segment said that Texas opt-out plans “are just written to screw over the worker,” whereas an attorney representing non-subscribing employers argued that most bad experiences under comp alternatives are the fault of a few bad actors. Reporter Roberto Ferdman also assesses the role PartnerSource, a Texas-based company, has had in the rise of workers’ comp alternatives and opt-out in its own state and outside of it.

Read and watch more from VICE here.

In medical news:

The use of interim buprenorphine in people on a waiting list to enter treatment for opioid abuse resulted in dramatically less illicit opioid use than in people without interim therapy, according to a study that was highlighted in a letter to the editor of the The New England Journal of Medicine. The primary outcome of the study was the percentage of urine specimens that tested negative for illicit opioids in 25 patients who received the opioid dependence drug buprenorphine (Suboxone, Indivior) and in 25 controls. At four weeks, 88 percent of the treated group tested negative for opioids, compared with zero in the control group. Those numbers continued to improve as the interim period continued.

Further coverage from Pain Medicine News here.

In local news:

An ex-NOPD officer who became an advocate for marijuana after a work injury left him in chronic pain and addicted to opioids was recently profiled by the Advocate. Jerry Kaczmarek severely injured his shoulder when an armed robbery suspect slammed into his police cruiser. He had to retire early and was constantly taking pain medicine, which grew into an addiction. After moving with his family to Colorado and confrontation with his wife and son that changed him, he experimented with legal marijuana in Colorado and discovered that he could use it to treat bth his chronic pain and his withdrawal from opioids. Now, Kaczmarek is lobbying the Louisiana Legislature to get chronic pain added to the list of conditions that the Louisiana medical marijuana program will recognize.

Read the entire piece here.

In regulatory news:

Insurance Commissioner Jim Donelon has written about the opioid crisis and its effect on insurance markets in the April 2017 edition of IIABL’s “Louisiana Agent” online magazine.

Download (Donelon piece on page 33): IIABL Louisiana Agent April 2017

In national news:

Property/Casualty 360 published a look at how construction companies sometimes illegally hide workers in shell companies in order to avoid paying for workers’ comp coverage. The authors trace the trend to 2000s-era Florida, explaining:

“Shell schemes in construction have risen to new levels of scope and sophistication in the last 10 years. Networks of dishonest specialty contractors, labor brokers, facilitators, paid straw shell owners and check-cashing stores can avoid far more workers’ comp premiums and taxes than the traditional premium scams. Shell schemes also have spread to other states, especially states with large construction activity.”

Interested in employer fraud issues? We covered Louisiana’s new efforts to prevent it and discussed it at the last Louisiana Comp Blog “Comp in Focus” industry luncheon. Check out pictures from the event here.

Read more about the “shell game” here.

In national news:

California Insurance Commissioner Dave Jones and Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas recently announced the shutdown of a $40 million fraudulent medical billing and kickback operation with the filing of charges against more than two dozen doctors, pharmacists and business owners. The case involves several clinics in Beverly Hills – Monarch Medical Group, Inc., King Medical Management, Inc. and One Source Laboratoires, Inc. From 2011 to 2015, the defendants are charged for their part in the fraudulent scheme of recruiting pharmacists and other doctors and billing for unnecessary creams, tests and treatments to maximize profits.

Read more here.