Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Safety of Flight

The best laid plans with the most inscrutable strategy can still fail.

That maxim came to haunt me on my return from South Carolina after our jet had pushed away from the gate. I thought we were sitting a bit too long with out further action and sure enough the captain's voice announced over the intercom that maintenance would have to be called.

No big deal, I thought. That's aviation - things happen with machines and they'll get 'er fixed and we'll be off in no time; perhaps a bit late for the connecting flight to cause some stress but we'll get there.

Then we sat a bit too long, long enough for me to think that perhaps this was a maintenance issue that could not be resolved so easily or quickly.

Just about then the captain came over the intercom again to announce that we would have to go back to the gate - seems a generator in one of the engines decided to quit.

Generators quit all the time in airplanes. I know, I've had them quit on me! When that spinning little electrical master quits it's only a few moments before the batteries drain, threatening the safety of flight because then there's no electricity.

Of course this was at 7 a.m. ET, so there was no mechanic on the field, and the qualified mechanic was going to be another hour, and perhaps another hour after that before the plane was repaired, assuming the correct part was available, which, because this is aviation, it would not be so available - that's how things go.

So back to the terminal we all went to find alternative flights which is not very easy out of Myrtle Beach in the off season!

Ultimately I got booked onto a United regional flight to Newark, NJ where I would catch a big Boeing 757 to cross the country in and arrive in Los Angeles four hours after I had planned just in time for rush hour traffic (and this was the best of the alternatives, the others putting me eight and ten hours later).

The California Workers' Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau dealt some of that sort of bad news to the industry the other day announcing that average pure premium rates were heading up another 8.7% because SB 853 was not having its intended effects - and that was assuming that lien armageddon withstood the injunctive challenge scheduled to be heard later this month.

The culprits were many, just like aviation gremlins: RVRBS, increased indemnity, lower investment returns - all sorts of issues conspiring to deny those who had hoped for some magical savings to occur.

But what's the true downside?

We still have a semblance of a workers' compensation system working. It's more complicated than when I started out - just like my flight from Myrtle Beach. And it's more expensive than originally planned (like my trip, turns out the wacky air fare structure we fly under turned my first class seat into coach class assuming there were any first class seats available, which there weren't).

But I eventually made it to LA, and I think eventually the journey under this massive reform will make it too, but not in the route planned or in the time planned.

We have seen this before and we'll see it again.

What is going to derail effectual workers' compensation is not whether there are "savings" in costs as a consequence of new law and regulation or new fee schedules or new anything.

What will derail this latest reform effort (and any reform effort) is the consistent imagination of those with inscrutable minds conning the system into unnecessary, unfounded and illogical services that are overpriced and don't deliver any value whatsoever.

On Monday I wrote about genetic testing that is creeping into our system. We know how this game works and it's just a matter of time before someone proves this up. Perpetrators behind the scheme find willing participants to refer unknowing patients in exchange for some payments. And generally it's not the doctors who are masterminds behind such nonsense but some under-world figure who will remain as anonymous as possible to escape the long arm of the law in order to perpetrate another scheme at some other time.

Every person who gets referred to these testing clinics likely don't even know why they are there - all they know is that a saliva sample gets taken, they see some "doctor" or some other figure head for a couple of minutes, and it doesn't cost them anything.

Attorneys get payola, doctors get payola, sometimes even claims adjusters will get payola.

The corruption can run deep.

The threat to the system is not that these likely illegal actions occur - the threat is that we then go about drafting more laws, more regulations, more paper to try and halt this activity.

And that never works.

Criminals love that sort of complexity because it helps them hide better. The more defined the rules are, the easier it is to plot and execute around them.

Yep, I made it home safely. Yep, I didn't arrive at the doorsteps until 8 hours after I had planned.

I did my job by sticking to the big plan. I had a deviation. It cost me some time but not much more money. And the travel day was more exhausting than it should have been. In the meantime I met some very interesting characters in my travels.

So it is with SB 863. It is what we have to work with. The key is that we don't get distracted by the noise of such folderol such as genetic testing. We have a job to do and that is to take care of those injured at work, get them real medical care and back to work, with a little money in their pockets for the inconvenience.

Of course this analogy is flawed - workers' compensation is not like the airline industry. But the point is that there is a destination and that things get in the way of comfortable travel. We make the best of what we are given to work with and hopefully safety of flight is not compromised while we deal with the elements that don't have society's best interests in mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment