Thursday, December 18, 2014

Taking A Breather

"Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits" is a classic quote from baseball great Satchel Paige.

I opened up a blog post at the beginning of this year with that quote, so I'm concluding the year the same way, because it's time for me to at least sits, and maybe I'll do some thinking too.

I just realized, 352 days into 2014, that I'm exhausted!

I've published a blog post every single business day in 2014 to date - 223 inclusive of this one.

I've taken a lot of heat for unpopular opinions, and I've received incredible support for some of my more sober observations.

The most read post garnered over 2,600 page views, when I wrote about Trusting Mistrust.

There's been lots to write about for sure, in life and workers' compensation.

While on his last weeks of life Dad was recognized one last time as volunteer of the year by the Oceanside Police Department and then died in February. During that same period of time the California copy shop fee schedule was being bandied about - and it's still not final.

There were initial judicial rulings on the constitutionality of SB 863's lien activation fee; there was Dubon 1 that created a gaping hole in the utilization review/independent medical review process, which was closed when the Workers' Compensation Appeals Board reversed itself with Dubon 2 after some changes to Board composition.
Bowzer The Wonder Dog

Speaking of IMR, 2014 saw a deluge in requests, overwhelming IMR contractor Maximus Services. There were delays, failures in records transmissions, finger pointing, and ultimately a declaration of success, albeit in a rather self-serving statistically light report.

The national scene saw a trend towards more physician regulation, particularly regarding prescriptions, opioids, physician dispensing, and changes to medical fee schedules.

The National Football League faced crisis with head trauma litigation, pushed through legislation to limit jurisdiction for work injury claims, and set up a trust fund outside the system to resolve traumatic brain injury claims.

The economic recovery was reflected in increased payrolls, particularly in high risk classes such as construction and trucking, and increased productivity in manufacturing in the US occurred (and continues) as a consequence of automation and computers but at the expense of lower level jobs.

Speaking of jobs, a lot of the unemployed fell off the government's statistics on unemployment, but mostly because they never found jobs so recovery from the recession has been tepid unlike prior recessions which saw much more robust recoveries.

Terrorism abroad, and domestically, seems to have increased with new groups finding new ways to try and tell first world civilized nations that the world is not a safe place; and ultimately a threat from the property-casualty insurance sector that there may be a contraction in capacity due to Congress' failure to extend terrorism backstop laws.

I put Mom in a fantastic memory care facility and tried to keep up a pace of twice-per-week visits. I did pretty well with that schedule I might add. Those visits taught me a lot about dementia, Alzheimer's, aging, care, and a bit of my own mortality and well being.

While the rest of the nation's workers' compensation claim frequency continued to decline, California's experience was the opposite, largely attributed by system scholars to increases in the Greater Los Angeles area.

And the economy, or lack thereof in reality, helped push up insurance rates across the nation even though claim frequency declined and claim severity stayed flat.

There were the usual reports of criminals, of fraud, of delay and bad decisions.

So WorkCompCentral decided to buck the negative news trend and recognize the good things that the industry does (and will continue to do so with Comp Laude 2015 scheduled for Saturday, December 5, 2015).

There were motorcycles, bicycles, November 6641 Mike, and Bowzer The Wonder Dog.

Rules, regulations, court decisions, reports, opinions, business ... there was no shortage of topics to opine about.

All of this to say I'm taking the next couple of weeks off to catch my breath, get a little rest (though knowing myself, "rest" is a relative term), reflect a bit, and perhaps to just "sits."

Here's wishing all of you a Happy Holiday Season - I'll be back after the first of 2015.


  1. Every business day of the year. Incredible, simply incredible. I read a great deal about workers' compensation and enjoy including your daily in that mix. Thanks for bringing us your wit and wisdom each day. I don't know how you do it. Happy holidays and have a safe and prosperous new year!