A couple of stories in this morning's WorkCompCentral News provide substantial evidence (you knew I had to work that in!) of that concept.
A grand jury indictment was unsealed yesterday alleging a huge financial kickback scheme involving compound drugs, doctors and pharmacists, some of whom are "regular" names in California workers' compensation and within the Greater Los Angeles area (recall that recent studies reflect dramatically higher costs in that geographic zone compared to the rest of the state).
Kareem Ahmed, the president and chief executive officer of Landmark Medical Management, is charged in the indictment with paying doctors more than $25 million in kickbacks to prescribe and dispense to California injured workers three compound creams he had formulated to use the most profitable ingredients.
The indictment alleges that Ahmed, acting in concert with pharmacist Mike Shah, Landmark Marketing Manager Evette Charbonnet and former Landmark Vice President Bruce Curnick, to identify and recruit physicians who treated injured workers to prescribe and dispense these three medications.
The way the kickbacks were concealed was for Landmark to purchase accounts receivables from physicians; the purchase of receivables was allegedly contingent upon the physician prescribing the “remaining month supply” to the patient from a pharmacy that had a contract with Ahmed.
Ahmed through his attorney has denied any wrongdoing.
Posting bond and also named in the indictment are:
- Dr. Daniel Capen, who faces nine counts and posted a $1 million bond on Wednesday. He received $2.5 million from Ahmed between 2010 and 2013, according to the indictment.
- Dr. Eduardo Anguizola, who faces nine counts and posted an $800,000 bond Thursday. He allegedly received $2 million from Ahmed.
- Michael Barri, a chiropractor and owner of Tri-Star Industrial Medical Group Inc., who allegedly received $1 million from Ahmed. He faced nine counts and posted a $400,000 bond Wednesday.
- Dr. Randy Rosen, who allegedly received $600,000 from Ahmed, faces nine counts. He posted a $300,000 bond Wednesday.
- Curt Hauge, who is accused of receiving $8 million from Ahmed for referring business to Landmark subsidiaries, faces five counts. He posted a $100,000 bond Thursday.
- Bruce Curnick, a former vice president of Landmark who is accused of a single count of conspiracy. He posted a $100,000 bond on Wednesday.
Dr. Craig M. Chanin, is accused of accepting payments in exchange for referring patients but the indictment does not say how much he is alleged to have been paid.
The details, comments by Ahmed's attorney, and allegations of involuntary manslaughter against a half dozen of the defendants are in this morning's story by WorkCompCentral reporters Greg Jones and Sherri Okamoto. You can trust me that they did a fantastic job of uncovering and reporting this story.
Along the same trust theme, the Workers' Compensation Research Institute released the first of four multi-state studies that point to a factor that we all knew impacted return to work success but has never been measured: trust....
WCRI’s Predictors of Worker Outcomes is Phase 1 of a four-phase, 20-state study looking at the factors that influence injured worker outcomes. The first phase of the studies examined data from Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin, and broke out each into its own state-specific study, which also featured the data collected across all states.
Though the reports caution against making conclusions because of the small sample size, they are nevertheless groundbreaking in that they are the first that I know of to delve into the impact of the employment relationship psychology post injury on injured worker recovery success.
For example, workers who were strongly in fear of being fired after their injury were found to return to work a median of four weeks later than those who weren’t concerned about being terminated.
Of the 3,200 sampled workers, interviewed in 2013, and who were injured in 2010 with more than seven days of lost time, 21% who were not working at the time of the interview predominantly due to their injury “strongly” agreed that they were concerned about being fired.
For that subset of workers, the median time from their injury to their initial return-to-work lasting at least 30 days was 13 weeks.
The 10% who were not concerned about being fired took a median of nine weeks to return to work lasting at least 30 days.
WCRI's study also found that workplace trust factored into recovered earnings.
Sixteen percent of workers who were strongly concerned about being fired reported large earnings losses at the time of the interview predominantly because of their injury, compared to just 3% who weren’t concerned about being fired. Those worried about being fired also had lower average health-and-functioning recovery scores, and were more likely to report problems with access to health care.
There are numerous other factors of course that contribute to the return to work survey results, such as co-morbidities, and WCRI is lining up other states for more study and reporting.
Former president of the Workers’ Injury Law & Advocacy Group, Andy Reinhardt, a claimant attorney in Richmond, Virginia, told WorkCompCentral yesterday, when queried about the study findings, "It’s not a normal employment relationship.”
The WCRI studies can be purchased here. Trust me, this is good stuff...