The RISC eNews Blast is intended to provide relevant and timely news information from a number of sources to member pool staff. If you see articles in the journals, email and sources you subscribe to that may be of interest to the RISC membership, please feel free to forward them to Erin Rian for inclusion in the eNews Blast. The eNews Blast will be delivered weekly, and the RISC Report will be delivered every two months. In this week's edition of the RISC eNews Blast:
States Rethink High Risk Pool Plans (Politico, 1/29/2013): When exchanges go into effect in 2014, they will cover some of the sickest individuals. A recent change in how the Department of Health and Human Services plans to run a three-year reinsurance fund has states rethinking the time frame for when they plan to shift some of their highest-risk people into the exchanges. An alert published by Willis provides a thorough overview of HHS Guidance on the Transitional Reinsurance Program and can be found here.
HHS Releases The Long-Awaited Final Omnibus HIPAA Rules (Mondaq, 1/28/2013): The final Omnibus HIPAA rules were issued January 17, 2013. The final rules become effective March 26, 2013, although covered entities and business associates have until September 23, 2013 to comply – extended to September 2014 for covered entities with existing business associate agreements. Note: Additional articles on this topic can be found on the Mondaq website along the right column of this article.
Attorney: HIPAA Rules Change Game for Cloud Companies (Advisen, 1/23/2013): The new provisions of HIPAA privacy and security rules could change compliance for many cloud companies that have taken the view they are not business associates (BA). However, the new rules change the definition of a BA to include any entity that maintains protected health information, so some of the companies may now be subject to HIPAA privacy and security rules.
Liability Issues Create Potholes on the Road to Driverless Cars (Mondaq, 1/28/2013): The issue of liability in the event of an accident complicates the development of state laws to govern the emerging technology of driverless cars. Possible targets include the developer of the technology, the car’s owner, passengers in the vehicle who could have assumed control, and the auto manufacturer. Some states are beginning to adopt laws on driverless cars, but federal liability laws would avoid a patchwork from state to state. The federal government has done little on this subject so far.
The Tweet Stops Here: US Court Determines that Users Own their Tweets and Third Parties Copy Them at their Peril (Mondaq, 1/26/2013): The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York held that Twitter’s terms of service vest ownership of content in the person making the original Tweet, and that contents in Tweets therefore cannot be used by others without permission of the owner. This does not prohibit re-Tweeting, which is the heart of Twitter functionality, but would prohibit taking content, in this case images, and exploiting them in another context without the permission of the owner. The full decision is available here.
PROPERTY & CASUALTY
Pickup in Fracking Activity Could Cause Headaches for Insurers, Case Warns (PR Web, 1/28/2013): Insurers could potentially be liable for damages arising from fracking. Landowners who allow gas exploration or product on their property under leases may be liable for dangerous conditions that result. If the lease documents have not adequately required the gas company to assume liability, the landowner may look to its insurer. Whether the insurer has adequately addressed the risks from fracking may determine whether it is responsible. A link to the full article in Claims Management Magazine is available in the PR Web article.
Higher Hospital Costs in States with Charge-Based Fee Regulations (Claims Journal, 1/29/2013): The Workers’ Compensation Research Institute has released a study that evaluates the implications of different types of fee regulations on hospital costs for outpatient treatment in twenty states. The study is the Hospital Outpatient Cost Index for Workers’ Compensation, 2nd Edition. WCRI found that states where hospital outpatient fee regulations are based on a fixed fee schedule had lower costs for outpatient care than those whose fee schedules were based on a percent of charges. Illinois was the only exception, and its costs were addressed by recent legislation that reduced the fee schedule rates by 30%. States that have no fee schedules had higher costs for common surgeries compared to states with fixed amount fee schedules.
Webinar: Common Pain Medications: What the Evidence Says ~ This one-hour webinar on February 21, 2013 will address the use and misuse of pain medications in the United States. Medical professionals may not understand their impact, resulting in prescriptions that are given for the wrong reason, for too long, or at too high a dose. Dr. Graves Owen, medical director of the Texas Pain Rehabilitation Institute and president of the Texas Pain Society, and Dr. Steven Moskowitz, senior medical director for Paradigm’s pain program, discuss this problem. Register here.
OTHER TOPICS OF INTEREST
United States: Flood Subrogation Under the Fifth Amendment (Mondaq, 1/25/2013): According to this analysis, the recent Supreme Court decision in Arkansas Game and Fish Commission v. the United States is not likely to provide a good basis for Fifth Amendment taking liability in the absence of a pattern of repeated flooding events. State constitutional proscriptions may be broader and a better source of potential recovery.
Federal Watchdog Issues Report on Gas Pipeline Safety (Insurance Journal, 1/25/2013): The U.S. Government Accountability Office has issued a report recommending that the Department of Transportation’s Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration adopt a performance based approach for incident response times and improve its collection of data to support performance based measures. The full report is accessible through a link on the GAO website.
How Rare are Municipal Bankruptcies? (Governing, 1/24/2013): Chapter 9 bankruptcies by local governments are few. Only 13 have taken place within the past five years, four in the state of California. The relatively high rate in California may relate to its lower legal barriers to municipal bankruptcy. A map is included that identifies states based on the permissiveness of their municipal bankruptcy laws. There is also a link to a Standard & Poors October 2012 Ratings Direct Report on municipal bankruptcy, which analyzes the effects of bankruptcy on municipalities and concludes that it carries a stigma that may negate anticipated financial benefits.
Court Overturns Indiana Ban on Sex Offenders Using Social Networks (Indianapolis Star, 1/23/2013): The Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals has held unconstitutional as drafted an Indiana statute that prohibited most registered sex offenders from using social networking websites, instant messaging, and chat programs. The law was challenged by the American Civil Liberties Union on the grounds that it interfered with the First Amendment right to free speech. The statute applied to all registered sex offenders, without considering the age of their victim(s), the manner in which the crime was committed, or the time since the offense. The Court found that the law was not narrowly tailored to serve the state’s interest, and broadly prohibited protected speech rather than targeting improper communications with minors. The full opinion in John Doe v. Prosecutor, Marion County, Indiana is available here.
Even if it Enrages Your Boss, Social Net Speech is Protected (New York Times~Login may be required, 1/22/2013): In December 2012, the National Labor Relations Board issued its opinion upholding the decision of an administrative law judge that the employer, Hispanics United of Buffalo, violated the NLRA by discharging five employees who posted comments on their personal Facebook pages using their personal computers in response to a co-workers’ criticism of their job performance. The employer claimed that it terminated the employees for harassing and bullying the co-worker who criticized them. The Board agreed with the ALJ that the employees’ comments were protected “concerted activity”. The NLRB decision is available here.
Marijuana Still a Drug with No Accepted Medical Use, Court Says (Los Angeles Times, 1/22/2013): The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia refused to change the federal government’s position on the medical use of marijuana, despite its legalization for medical use in 20 states. The court declined to overrule the position of the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, which refuses to change its position in the absence of large well controlled studies proving marijuana’s efficacy in medical settings. The advocates who brought the suit plan an appeal to the Supreme Court and lobbying efforts in Congress. The full decision in Americans for Safe Access v. Drug Enforcement Administration is available here.
Information about NLC-RISC conferences, workshops and regional meetings can be found on the RISC website under the Events tab. Please contact Erin Rian if you have questions.
Essentials in Risk Pool Management Certificate Program ~ Online courses start February 7, 2013: Essentials in Risk Pool Management is a one-course certificate program, developed through a collaboration of NLC-RISC, the Association of Governmental Risk Pools (AGRiP), California Association of Joint Powers Authorities (CAJPA) and Insurance Educational Association (IEA). The curriculum provides a risk pool participant with theoretical and practical knowledge, which provides a solid foundation to successfully work within or manage the risk pool. Completion of Essentials in Risk Pool Management satisfies one of the five required courses for the Associate in Risk Pool Management Designation. Registration for NLC-RISC members is $399. Register here.
Southern Municipal Underwriting Group (SMUG) Meeting
April 8-9, 2013 ~ Louisville, Kentucky
Hosted by the Kentucky League of Cities Insurance Services
Southeast Regional Loss Control Meeting
April 16-19, 2013 ~ Annapolis, Maryland
Hosted by LGIT (Maryland)
Questions? Contact Dick Furst, LGIT.
Midwest Regional Loss Control Meeting
May 2-3, 2013 ~ St. Paul, Minnesota
Hosted by the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust
Questions? Contact Chris White, LMCIT.
Marketing Communications Workshop
May 15-16, 2013 ~ Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel
2013 NLC-RISC Trustees Conference
May 16-18, 2013 ~ Sheraton Denver Downtown Hotel
Western Regional Loss Control Meeting
July 17-19, 2013 ~ Bend, Oregon
Hosted by CIS (Oregon)
2013 NLC-RISC Staff Conference
October 21-23, 2013 ~ Portland, Oregon