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Archive for March, 2012

Winning the battle but losing the war on Health Reform at the SJC

Forget the polls, the price of a gallon of gas, or even the unemployment rate; November’s Presidential election will be decided over the next few months inside the Supreme Court as it takes up the issue of the constitutionality of ObamaCare. The results of this decision may not have the desired impact the two opposing sides are hoping for. Victory will be short-lived, as the loser mobilizes to change the course of Health Reform and history at the polls.

We all remember the jubilation of the anti-health reform voices, as Senator Scott Brown, a virtual unknown months earlier, was swept in to office from a tidal wave of an anxious minority. This group was mobilized at a national level, to change the balance of Democratic power in Washington, to change the course of health reform. Without this one issue at stake, the Massachusetts Senate race would never have received the Read more…

FBI’s look at electronic espionage uncovers law firms lack of data security

Investigation into the rise in electronic economic espionage against U.S. corporations has recently shined a spotlight on law firms’ data security. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) found that many law firms are targeted by hackers seeking to gather information not on the firm itself, but the firm’s clients. FBI officials say that law firms’ systems and controls were much less secure than those of their clients, meaning hackers accessed proprietary, confidential and sensitive client information stored on the firms’ servers.

Data security varies dramatically from one firm to the next, but with the recent affirmation that cyber-attacks targeting law firms are on the rise, security should be at the forefront of discussions amongst firms’ management teams. Managing partners and executive committees need to drive a culture of security from the top down by instituting controls, Read more…

Goldman Sachs Equity Research Report on health plan trends

March 20, 2012 Leave a comment

I was honored to represent WGA on a recent Goldman Sachs Equity Research “industry expert conference call” with over 100 of their institutional investors, to provide our perspective on pricing and trends for employee benefits programs at mid-sized companies. This is the 10th year that I’ve been asked by Goldman Sachs’ Healthcare industry analysts, specifically in the “Managed Care” segment, to offer state of the market commentary from the unique perspective we bring as consultants to mid-sized employers.

Read more…

Examining property losses as Boston’s Back Bay fire knocks out power

A fire that started in a large transformer owned by the local electrical utility led to a lengthy disruption of power in Boston’s Back Bay this week. While the damage at the building near a Hilton Hotel was not extensive, the loss of power shut down traffic signals and the electricity supply to area residences and businesses.

Many businesses were forced to close that evening and the following day as a result of the lack of electricity. Their lost profits and incremental expenses are unlikely to be insured by standard insurance policies. This is because policyholders may not carry Utility Interruption coverage, which is a coverage extension available within Property Insurance policies. If they do, it may be limited Read more…

PPACA cost estimates jump another $111 billion in Obama’s latest budget

March 12, 2012 1 comment

What’s a few hundred billion when it’s tax payers’ money? My last blog entry highlighted the death of the Obama administration’s long-term care provision, the CLASS Act, which had been tasked with generating $80 billion for Obamacare, a naive pipe dream from the beginning. Now, buried deep within Obama’s newly released budget, is a line item for subsidized exchange care at $478 billion, up from last year’s budget estimate of $367 billion for the period 2014 – 2021.

House Ways and Means Chairman David Camp demanded an immediate explanation why this subsidy provision estimate has jumped by 30% in one year. At a congressional hearing last week, HHS Secretary Sebelius stated Read more…

Exempt or non-exempt, that is the question…

An increase in court cases regarding employee exemption misclassifications has created a topic of discussion among Employment Law attorneys and experts. Earlier this month, Novartis Pharmaceuticals Corp. (“Novartis”) settled an overtime case with its current and former outside sales representatives for $99 million, forcing several circuit courts and now the Supreme Court to further examine conditions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

In the case, Novartis Wage & Hour Litigation, the plaintiffs (current and former sales representatives) alleged that they had been misclassified as exempt from the FLSA’s overtime requirements, and should have therefore been paid for those overtime hours accordingly (full description of the case). However, there have been Read more…

Engage in Health – the importance of a colonoscopy

The February 23 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine reports the findings of a significant study into the effectiveness of colonoscopy as a preventative tool.  The study found a remarkable 53% reduction in deaths from colon cancer among over 2,600 patients over a median of 15+ years when the patient had precancerous polyps identified by colonoscopy removed.  In fact, among the survey group, only 12 patients died of colon cancer over the long look back period used in this study.

Today, the recommended approach to colon cancer screening is to have a colonoscopy performed beginning at age 50, with follow-up screenings based on your physician’s advice, typically every 3-5 years.  The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) required preventive services to be covered at 100% beginning September 23, 2010, and colon cancer Read more…