Attention doctors and drug makers: Sunshine Act database goes live Sept. 30th

September 18, 2014 Leave a comment

money_medical_computerOn September 30th, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (“CMS”) will publicly release all sales and marketing expenses from drug companies to doctors and hospitals. While cost transparency tends to focus on medical providers and insurers, the financial relationships between drug manufacturers, physicians and teaching hospitals have become heavily scrutinized. The initiative, arising from a section of PPACA commonly known as the “Sunshine Act,” is part of nationwide effort to promote transparency throughout the healthcare industry. The law requires applicable manufacturers of covered drugs, devices, biological products and medical supplies to report to CMS information about payments made to physicians and teaching hospitals as well as any ownership and investment interests held. Submitting the information to a federal entity will hopefully reduce gifts and kickbacks that doctors sometimes receive when agreeing to use a drug company’s product.  Read more…

CA drought and the water energy nexus

September 15, 2014 Leave a comment

folsom_lakeIn 1955, Mormon Island, a gold-rush era mining town in Northern California, was flooded to create the Folsom Lake and Dam to supply drinking water and hydroelectric power to residents in the area. Today, due to historically low water levels, the abandoned town is resurfacing, with building remnants and artifacts turning up in the lake’s receding water after being submerged for nearly 60 years. While tourists are flocking to the site, it is one of the many ominous symbols of the worst drought in California history.

With an increasing number of lakes, rivers and reservoirs at record low levels, hydropower plants like the one at Folsom, are being forced to reduce or discontinue hydropower generation. As a result, California utility companies are now turning to thermoelectric power plants to make up the shortfall. Thermoelectric power plants, which include coal, nuclear, and natural gas generation, use over 200 billion gallons of water every year in the U.S. in for operation and cooling. Thus perpetuating the state’s drought issues with more water needed for power generation Read more…

Employer marijuana policies go to court over conflicting federal and state laws

September 9, 2014 Leave a comment

gavel_potPress reports highlight new conflicts over the inconsistencies between federal and state laws over marijuana usage by employees. Federal law requires government contractors to have drug-free policies that apply to federally controlled substances. In Colorado, the application of that policy via Dish Network’s employment practice led to the firing of Brandon Coats, after a drug test showed him to be a medical marijuana user. Coats, having lost his case at two levels is now arguing his case before the Colorado Supreme Court.

Coats maintains that his marijuana use is essential medical therapy. He also says that his usage is during off-work hours, so any impairment caused by marijuana is not evident in his work. He compares marijuana usage to recreational liquor usage. Read more…

Planning an IPO? Pre-launch stage calls for critical D&O coverage

September 2, 2014 Leave a comment

ipo_2With IPO activity on pace to increase for the third consecutive year, (112 IPO’s completed in the first half of 2014 alone) the active market has encouraged an unprecedented number of companies, both large and small, to start planning an initial public offering. Yet as several recent cases have shown, many companies involved in the initial or “pre” IPO planning stage fail to consider the numerous liability risks and claims they face, well before they go public. Many may not realize the significance of the pre-IPO period and the exposures presented during this time, which often include organizational shifts, accounting and debt restructuring and other corporate changes. Pre-IPO activities, such as private placement agreements or pre-offering disclosures, can lead to claims from angry investors and others involved in the process if the company fails to launch its IPO. Read more…

Long term care and planning – thinking ahead to protect your future

With the average cost for a private room in a Massachusetts nursing facility at around $134,000 per year, long-term care expenses may catch many people by surprise, especially as the costs accumulate over time. Within five years, an individual will have paid over half a million dollars in out-of-pocket expenses for full-time nursing care. Even for those who opt to live at home and hire a health aide to administer their care, the median annual rate for Home Health Aide Services runs just under $60,000. Add to that the cost for homemaker services (cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.) and/or adult day care and the costs are well over $100,000.

While many people rely on retirement savings to help cover their long-term care, proper planning and budgeting for the future becomes even more critical for spouses who need care together, or if one person ends up caring for the other. Spouses living together in a private room at a nursing facility can expect to pay about $300,000 each year – that’s just under $1.5 million over five years. Now is probably Read more…

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Green power usage climbs among major U.S. corporations

green_lightbulbWith over 600 U.S. companies now using green power resources to meet their electricity needs, companies today are becoming more aware about limiting their carbon footprint. In fact, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Green Power Partnership (GPP) released its latest report last month, listing a wide variety of U.S. organizations from across the country who meet 100 percent of their electricity needs from green power. The list includes both large public and private-sector organizations – from The World Bank Group (wind) and Intel Corporation (biogas, solar and wind) to the National Hockey League (wind), Pearson (geothermal) and the Empire State Building (wind). All together, these companies used a total of nearly 12 billion kilowatt-hours of green power last year– that’s enough energy to eliminate CO2 emissions from the electricity use of over 1 million average American homes each year. Qualification standards for companies participating in the GPP are set based on the percentage of electricity the organization uses from green power sources, such as solar, wind, geothermal, and biogas. Each company’s qualifying percentage is set based on its total annual energy use. Since 2001, over 1,300 organizations have joined the GPP. Read more…

Wellness plan compliance: Test your knowledge

August 20, 2014 Leave a comment

wellness_quizWhether it’s a free gym membership or free healthy lunches, corporate wellness programs continue to expand as employers focus on reducing employees’ health risks by improving their lifestyle and behavior. An increasing amount of employers are opting for incentive-driven plans offering financial rewards or better health plan options to employees who participate in program activities, such as weight-loss challenges and healthy eating seminars. Rather than creating programs that are strictly educational, incentive-based wellness programs tend to help increase employee motivation to participate in activities and make changes to their behavior. According to Optum Inc.’s 2014 Wellness in the Workplace Survey, over 40% of various sized employers said they now offer financial incentives that are tied to measurable improvements in employees’ health outcomes, (i.e. weight loss, reduced cholesterol, quitting smoking). In addition, nearly 50% have incorporated non-participation penalties Read more…

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