Thursday, July 3, 2014

The Flying None

Sally Field played Sister Bertrille as the Flying Nun for 3 years and 82 episodes from 1967 to 1970.

The role was an embarrassment to Field, according to legend, because of the silliness of the base plot - a person with aerodynamic qualities due to light weight and a large lifting surface, that provided inspiration to solve (and sometimes create) problems when taking flight.

The Flying None
Imagine if Sally Field had been tasked with instituting one of the more silly measures of California's SB 863 - the photocopy shop fee schedule.

I understand where the proponents of this element of reform are coming from - they are upset that abuses occurred by copy shops and they want to curb those abuses.

As I have been proselytizing lately, the transgressions of The Few create illogical burden for the many.

And that's exactly why a copy shop fee schedule came about.

But like the rest of reform that is not based on a complete understanding of The Problem, it too will fail.

Because The Problem is caused by a couple of folks that don't play by the rules, and consequently they won't play by any new rules either.

Here's how The Few caused the problem for the many photocopy shops that do play by the rules.

First off, The Few don't actually get records all of the time. They get some reports and some records, then go through those for other names of physicians and facilities and "subpoena" those records too on behalf of a few lawyers who are also in on the scheme.

But those physicians and facilities that are "subpoenaed" don't produce any "records." That's because, a) they weren't subpoenaed and b) these acts are just billing entries - no work is actually done.

Second, The Few reuse and reuse records that are actually produced, creating multiple billing entries and, ergo, liens. When no actual work is done, what does a service care that it only collects ten cents on the dollar?

Third, The Few has the support, as indicated, of some additional peripheral players who get "favors" for assisting in the scheme. It's a round robin affair with referrals going in all directions all generated from a couple of records. The Few copy shops that are in these schemes are part of larger enterprises involved in recruiting "injured workers" to put through the mill, part of which are copy shops, to generate fees. Again, if no work is actually done, then what does one care if the return is "only" ten cents on the dollar? When the cost factor is zero everything that comes in the door is profit.

Fourth, the proposed regulations create incentives for applicant attorneys to use the new law to their advantage and order EVERY record they can think of VERY early in the case: right after the 30-day required waiting period in Labor Code 5307.9, but before the employer can truly respond. That way, the applicant can make sure they have access to their own discovery process and make sure the copy service fees are always payable.

Before SB863, a lot of attorneys only ordered the records they truly needed... but I expect that if there is a perceived constriction on the ability to obtain evidence in the form of records attorneys will start ordering everything they can possibly think of JUST to make sure they CAN get the records when they need them. In other words, the changes to the applicant copy service process in SB863 are ultimately going to INCREASE the volume of copy service usage by applicant attorneys.

And I don't expect that a fee schedule and rules about timely payment for records will make any difference in the accounts receivables timeline for these shops. The financial industry, of which insurance is a part, completely understands that time is money - the more time you hold onto money the more money you end up with...

The Reverend Mother Superior Placido was cast as the "serious" character, chastising Sister Bertrille nearly every episode because she could not understand Bertrille's on and off again control over flight. 

There's no understanding of the dynamics of work comp cost flight. Solutions have been created for problems that don't exist, leaving the real problems unaffected.

Which is why all of this reform effort is a Flying None.

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