“With 2013 just around the corner, a number of states are preparing to implement new insurance-related laws. Insurance Journal highlights some of the changes that will take place around the country.
In 2013, the California workers’ compensation benefit delivery system will undergo regulatory changes as part of SB863, the Workers’ Compensation Reform Package, which was passed in the 2012 legislative session. SB863 is intended to reduce system costs as a set off for increased worker indemnity benefits.
SB 863 is designed to contain costs in several ways, while increasing permanent disability benefits for workers. Two prime goals the bill had in attempting to reduce costs were to change the way in which the system deals with permanent disability, and how medical liens and billing disputes are handled.
“SB863 is intended to reduce system costs as a set off for increased worker indemnity benefits, but overall projected savings are 1.4 percent. We believe that further savings must be found in the system,” Marjorie Berte, vice president of the American Insurance Association told Insurance Journal.
Specifically, SB 863: 1) Increases permanent disability (PD) benefits by about $740 million per year, with a two year phase-in, and removes future earning capacity for PD calculations; 2) Eliminates cost-driver sleep disorder, sexual dysfunction, and psychological add-ons; 3) Changes the medical fee schedule to Medicare-based RBRVS from the current official medical fee schedule; 4) Establishes fee schedules for ambulatory surgical centers, copy services and translators; 5) Eliminates double billing for implantable surgical hardware; 6) Removes medical decisions from workers’ compensation administrative judges; 7) Provides for an independent medical review process similar to that used in managed health care; 8) Streamlines medical provider network (MPN) process to encourage usage and going outside of MPNs, and simplifies the MPN approval process; and, 9) Imposes limitations on use of liens, and establishes lien filing fees.”
“New Year’s Eve is a night to have fun and celebrate the coming year. However, safety is a must when participating in the festivities. Whether you’re staying in and celebrating with friends and family, or you’re traveling to a party or city bash, following a few safety tips will ensure that you’re safe and sound when the clock strikes midnight, ringing in the New Year!
• Designate a Driver: If you are going to be driving New Years Eve, don’t drink and drive. If you have a friend who does not prefer to drink, make sure they take the wheel. You might even be on the water this New Years Eve. The person in charge of navigating the boat needs to be cautious, and this still applies to them! It is important to be safe on the water as well, so drink sensibly.
• Be Alert: Be aware of your surroundings and how others are acting. Stay away from those who are out of control and might cause harm. Taking preventive measures is key. If someone is really intoxicated, prevent them from trying to drive or leaving with someone they do not know. It’s important to keep an eye out for each other.
• Don’t Drive: If you don’t have to go behind the wheel, avoid it. More people will be driving under the influence on this particular night, so avoid a potentially dangerous accident by staying off the road. Otherwise, be alert and drive defensively. Most importantly, wear your seatbelt! Also, using public transportation is a wise option. If taking a cab is too expensive, crashing at a friend’s place nearby is a convenient solution.
• Stick Together: This way we can look out for our friends and family. Going out to parties and nightclubs means a fast-paced, crazy night; so be sure to travel in groups. Having a safety net around you in this environment is imperative.
• Monitor your Alcohol Intake: A majority of people will be drinking on New Year’s Eve, and there is nothing wrong with that. Just be sure to pay attention to how much you and others are consuming. Drinking too much alcohol can have lethal affects. Be responsible.
• Don’t forget about your pets! They are just as much a part of the family as everyone else. If you are using fireworks, anything with loud noises, or fire, be sure that pets are kept at a distance as well as children. None of these are a good mix.
• Be careful with open flames: If you’re burning candles, incense or oil burners, remember to extinguish them before you turn in or before you leave the room they are burning in. Pay extra attention to pets and children around open flames.
• Be extra careful with Fireworks: If you are letting off fireworks in a residential area, be sure to practice proper safety precautions when using them. Let off fireworks in a field or other open area where homes and power lines are out of site. Have a fire extinguisher nearby and never try to re-light a firework that did not go off when first lit. Also, be sure pets and children are at a safe distance from where fireworks are being ignited. Finally, always have an adult present when using any type of firework.
Everyone wants to have an unforgettable night (in a good way!). By simply using some common sense, we can keep it that way. Ring in the New Year safely!”
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