It's now 2015, I'm back. Legislators are back. Judges are back. Workers are back. Business is back.
2014 was tumultuous for California work comp and in a few other states as well.
Heck, it was tumultuous for me!
In comp we had court challenges to many aspects of California's historic "reform" bill, SB 863, most of which are still pending.
In my life I had Dad's death and Mom's placement in a memory care facility.
In comp we saw continued increase in premium expense for employers despite promises of savings and uncertainty (WorkCompCentral's "Word on the Industry" for 2014) in nearly every aspect of California's system.
In my life I saw a kid graduate from college and enter the "real world" with nearly as much uncertainty in her future as workers' compensation.
Some business relationships in work comp were challenged and the news was filled with prosecutions of white collar crime.
My life had business relationship challenges too, but thankfully no relations with criminals, though I was stalked a couple of times by some injured workers (and not exactly sure why).
Interest rates remained near record lows, and the stock market hit record highs. Bond yields remain at near all time lows.
Gasoline and oil nearly halved in price as Saudi Arabia sought to re-establish monopoly control over that market by forcing out new production efforts through economic warfare.
And it appears that some rogue nations are bent on other types of terrorist activity and warfare as we saw with monumental computer hacking, despicable head hacking, and Congress' ambivalence on TRIA.
Insurance rates, and premiums, along with medical expenses, continue to rise, though at a much more tepid pace than the last decade.
The economy has sucked back most of the unemployment roll since the 2008 recession, but left in its wake a large population of the unemployable.
The jobs that are coming back have more to do with controlling automation (eliminating a dozen or so jobs for each machine-monitoring job created) which is great for competitive business, but tough on those workers lacking education or skills in robotics.
There's speculation that even previously staid jobs, such as lawyers or legal clerks reviewing records, may end up automated putting pressure on white collars as well.
And workers' compensation is still here, trying to adapt to this radically changing world.
In California Professional Employee Organizations can no longer be self-insured.
Lien filers anxiously await a decision from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals on the activation fees from SB 863.
Fee schedules for copy and interpreting services still require finality.
The vague $120M supplemental slush fund is also awaiting finishing touches.
Over on the other side of the nation a question remains as to the constitutionality of Florida's system.
New York is still grappling with sluggish implementation of fee schedule reform and challenges to authority in the system.
Illinois can't quite figure out what it wants out of "reform," Oklahoma is trying to show the rest of the nation that "opting out" into a regulated civil system can work, Texas is debating rules on its Independent Medical Review system, and the rest of the nation is busy legislating out anything other than a specifically witnessed, "old world" style of injury.
Sometimes I wonder if I'll have anything to write about. I mean, honestly, what can be so interesting about workers' compensation?
Then I read the daily headlines: a move to generic medications, challenges to 100% PD award where the worker can't leave the house, objections to fees that haven't changed in nearly 20 years, moribund legislatures ... and more.
All this turmoil, all this anxiety, and WorkCompCentral columnist Peter Rousmaniere opines that work comp is shrinking...
Yep, I'm back because the more things change, the more they stay the same: there's lots to write about, lots to debate, lots to reflect upon.
Welcome to 2015!