Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Nausea On Final

John Swan, Director of Sales and Marketing for DocuCents, flew home with me early Saturday morning from the Summer California Applicants' Attorneys Association conference in Las Vegas.

We had a dinner meeting the night before and of course drank more wine than reasonable people should - but this was Vegas...

The plan was to meet in the hotel lobby at 5:30 a.m., get a cab to Henderson Executive Airport, and be wheels up by 6:30 a.m. before the desert got so hot that density altitude would become a problem (for non-pilots, density altitude is how high the airplane thinks it is as a consequence of temperature and other factors; the higher it is, the less performance available to a piston aircraft so climbing becomes compromised).

I woke up with a slight headache, showered, and reported for duty. Swan was ready to go as well. Neither of us ate anything before take off.

Swan is an enthusiastic flyer. He likes small airplanes. I doubted his ability to stay awake during the flight because of altitude, consumption of alcohol the night before and lack of sleep. He discounted my concerns however, stating he would be awake the entire flight despite my opinion that altitude would deprive his brain of oxygen, already challenged by the prior night's activities.

I should have know something was up when we jumped the cab and the driver didn't know where Henderson Executive Airport was - oh boy...

We eventually made it to the airport, the long way due to the cabbie's reliance on unreliable GPS, and after a careful pre-flight we were on our way.

Swan passed out at about 5,000 feet en route to our cruise altitude of 8,500. He awoke momentarily a couple of times, but otherwise was snoring. I was dehydrated so I gulped a few bottles of water during the hour and half flight while Swan slept peaceably.

Oxnard was overcast as anticipated so I requested the ILS 25 approach.

"Bonanza Six Six Four One Mike, fly heading two one zero, descend to four thousand five hundred feet, expect approach clearance with the next controller," came the order from So Cal.

And then it happened - all that water I had gulped to cure my dehydration on an empty stomach wanted to come back up, probably with a few particles of undigested food from the night before.

I woke up Swan, and concentrated really hard, breathing deeply, trying to keep everything down. Of all the times to get sick, preparing for an instrument landing is NOT THE TIME TO GET SICK! I couldn't even reach the barf bags...

Fortunately my zen-like focus quelled the queasiness, and I made an otherwise uneventful landing, and I actually felt quite fine on final approach.

And yesterday the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed SB 863's imposition of a lien activation fee in Angelotti Chiropractic v. Baker.

The appellate court said that there was no constitutional issue and that SB 863's lien activation fee was not against the law. The court lifted the injunction and took the initiative to dismiss the Equal Protection claim.

Lien claimant representatives are stunned. SB 863 supporters are ecstatic.

Questions loom: What about all those pending liens that weren't activated during the injunction period? What about the payment system - will it be able to handle a predicted rush of backlogged payment requests? Are there going to be temporary rules to deal with this (at least Division of Workers' Compensation spokesperson Peter Melton told WorkCompCentral that there will be further announcement on some procedure in the next couple of weeks)?

Noted defense attorney, Richard "Jake" Jacobsmeyer in an email to interested persons summed it up nicely, stating, "Lien claimants are now in something of a no man’s land with the faint hope that a further appeal may save them from the lien activation cost but the compliance clock will probably be ticking and once it stops, the jig will be up on their liens."

So there's panic in the lien-represented community. The stomach full of gulped water is gurgling. It's feeling a bit uncomfortable.

Take a deep breath though, and exercise some zen-like concentration.

What has happened during these past 19 months that Angelotti was pending? During that time period pending liens could have (and should have) been activated without paying any fee and they would have been decided. We don't know how many cases have already been through the gauntlet and are now out of activation fee burden.

Indeed, post SB 863 medical bills are subject to Independent Bill Review. We know that IBR has been, compared to estimates, largely underutilized, suggesting that what gets paid is not worth appealing when there's a fee involved and unknown recovery prospects.

Will the Angelotti case further discourage medical providers from treating workers' compensation patients? I suggest that's not an issue and that any medical access problems have nothing to do with being able to prosecute a lien - those issues are much more complex than recouping an account receivable years after it was due...

Will there be any further lien-based system savings with the Angelotti decision? I doubt it. I think those savings have all been realized, and the actual filing fee for liens post SB 863 is more responsible for that cost containment.

In short, though the court's decision is perhaps surprising, in the big picture it doesn't really mean a whole lot except to a few vendors with small liens, such as photocopy services.

After we put Forty One Mike away in the hangar I took Swan to the parking lot to meet his ride, and I returned to the hangar.

As I pulled my truck up in front of the hangar the nausea returned in shockingly quick manner and I barely got out the door before expelling water and a few undigested chunks onto the ramp.


But I felt better and went on a bicycle ride.

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