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. In this week's edition of the RISC eNews Blast:
DATA SECURITY & CYBER RISK
New York Police Officer Is Accused of Hacking (Wall Street Journal, 5/21/2013): A New York police officer has been charged with illegally obtaining email login information for at least 43 people using an internet based email hacking service, and invading their privacy in other ways. The motive appears to have been personal, but the officer stored the information on his computer in the police station to which he was assigned, raising the possibility of his employer being involved in actions that may be brought by the victims.
City of Akron tax files hacked by Turkish group (Akron Beacon Journal, 5/17/2013): The City of Akron, Ohio has been hacked by a Turkish group. In addition to replacing city messages with political ones, the hackers accessed taxpayer information and posted it online, including names, addresses, credit card numbers and expiration dates, and social security numbers. At this point, the mayor does not believe the city was individually targeted, but rather fell victim to an attack against a large number of targets.
Here is a press release issued by the city. And here is a link to an article about how the city is making attorneys and other city staff available to counsel those whose information may have been compromised.
Effectively Managing Social Media In The Workplace (Mondaq, 5/15/2013): A social media policy is an important tool for use in managing employees’ use of social media in the workplace, on employer owned technology. The suggestions for an effective and legal social media policy include:
- Understand how labor law protects employees’ rights to use social media to communicate with one another about their work conditions.
- Focus on restricting activity not protected by labor law (such as harassing conduct, disclosure of trade secrets, etc.)
- Keep policies focused and clear.
- Inform employees that all communication on company technology may be monitored.
- Provide that the policy can be modified at any time.
- Train employees about the policy
- Enforce the policy
- Be prepared for discovery of content from social media sites.
Model notices for health insurance exchange notification released (Business Insurance, 5/9/2013): Federal regulators released model notices that employers can provide to employees notifying them of the availability of public health insurance exchanges. Model COBRA notices have also been revised. Model notices on the availability of exchanges must be distributed prior to October 1, 2013. Access the model notices here.
Minnesota lawmakers compromise on sand mining rules (Grand Forks Herald, 5/22/2013): Environmental advocates in Minnesota were unsuccessful in their quest to pass statewide legislation severely limiting the location of hydraulic fracturing sand mines. Instead, new mines are required to get a permit from the state in order to locate within a mile of trout streams, after a study on the potential effects on water quality. The state will be involved in the environmental review process and will provide model regulations and optional technical aid to local governments on issues that will remain with them, including standards relating to controlling silica dust and processing, storing and transporting sand.
Radioactive fracking debris triggers worries at dump sites (Trib Live, 5/11/2013): Pennsylvania is dealing with increased radioactivity in waste heading for its landfills, much of which is coming from shale gas wells. The state Department of Environmental Protection began in January a year-long study of radiation in the shale gas industry. Although some believe that radiation build up can be prevented by proper management – missing the radioactive waste to dilute it and containing it in a landfill’s liners – others are concerned that future building on a landfill will expose residents to excessive radiation. Ultimately the community must evaluate the future risk against the present economic advantage of accepting waste from shale gas operations, and future public leaders will have to evaluate the risks of building on those landfills.
MEDICARE SECONDARY PAYER
New Medicare Secondary Payer Amendment Proposed (Property Casualty 360, 5/16/2013): Legislation has been introduced in the House of Representatives that would reform the review of workers compensation Medicare set aside agreements. The Medicare Secondary Payer and Workers’ Compensation Settlement Agreements Act of 2013 seeks to resolve present delays in the system. Similar legislation has been introduced in prior years. GovTrack’s prognosis is that it has a very small chance of getting past committee or being enacted.
The full text of the bill is available here.
Appeals Court: Medicare Secondary Payer Act Doesn't Preempt State Law (Property Casualty 360, 5/15/2013): The Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has held that Medicare Secondary Payer law does not preempt state workers’ compensation insurance laws for purposes of the private cause of action with double recovery established in 42 U.S.C. 1395y(b)(3)(A). The claimant was not permitted to bypass Texas requirements for preauthorization of medicals in workers’ compensation cases by first filing the claim with Medicare. The opinion states that MSP law works with state law, and that workers’ compensation is primary only if a payment has been made or can reasonably expected to be made under the law. Where the claimant failed to follow the mandated legal steps for recovery under the workers’ compensation law, he could not recover under the private cause of action authorized under the MSP statute. The decision did leave open the possibility that Medicare could refuse to make a conditional payment or seek reimbursement directly from the claimant. The full decision is available here.
PROPERTY & CASUALTY
Cause of Fire at West Fertilizer Co. Remains Unknown; Scene Investigation Complete (Property Casualty 360, 5/17/2013): Authorities still do not know what caused the explosion at the West Fertilizer Plant in West, Texas. The parent company of the plant, Adair Grain, has only $1,000,000 of liability insurance on the site and no excess or umbrella coverage. The Insurance Council of Texas estimates the losses at $100 million.
Opioid Epidemic Plagues Workers’ Comp (Insurance Journal, 5/17/2013): Long-term prescription of opioids continues to be a problem in state workers’ compensation systems, where much of the battle is being fought. This report includes individual reports for different regions of the U.S.
Overall U.S. Workers Comp Industry 'Encouraging': NCCI (Property Casualty 360 5/17/2013): The National Council on compensation Insurance reports that net written premiums in workers’ compensation have increased 9% in 2012, the second year of increases after a 27% decline in premiums between 2006 and 2010. However, the reserve position of private carriers deteriorated for the fifth consecutive year, leaving an estimated $13 billion deficiency. The average medical cost per lost time claim increased by 3% in 2012.
In-Utero Injuries: Another Risk Exposure for Employers (Property Casualty 360 5/14/2013): If a child is injured in-utero due to a cause that also injures its mother, how is the injury to the child compensated, if at all? California held that a lawsuit was barred based on exclusive remedy only if the child’s claims necessarily depended on the mother’s injuries. Where the child’s injury was separate from the mother’s, the workers’ compensation exclusive remedy provision did not bar a lawsuit. The District of Columbia held that the workers’ compensation law limits all liability of an employee and the employee’s dependents to the workers’ compensation system. Pools should consider how a child injured in-utero might be compensated under their state’s law, and how such compensation might differ in amount depending on whether it is workers’ compensation or general liability.
When Flame Retardants Burn: Toxic Exposure and Health Risks to Firefighters (Marine Environmental Research Institute, June 2013): Research led by the Marine Environmental Research Institute, and published in the journal Chemosphere, says that the flame retardants used in the furnishings of U.S. households and their combustion by-products have been measured at elevated levels in the blood of firefighters. Statements by the Institute claim that these elevated levels show a possible link between firefighting and elevated rates of cancer. This study is of significant concern to pools in states where cancer presumption statutes are under consideration.
OTHER TOPICS OF INTEREST
Mayor Bloomberg and Fire Commissioner Cassano Announce New Risk Based Fire Inspections Citywide Based on Data Mined from City Records (NYC.gov, 5/15/2013): New York City has begun prioritizing buildings for firefighter inspection based on specified data from multiple sources, including other city databases, to identify the buildings at highest risk. The system automatically schedules buildings for inspection based on their risk profile. Criteria presently scored include construction material, sprinkler capacity, building height and age, occupancy, and last day of inspection. The system also tracks violations and schedules follow-up inspections, when necessary.
Bill Introduced to Extend TRIA for 10 Years (Property Casualty 260, 5/10/2013): H.R. 1945 was introduced in the House of Representatives. It would extend the Terrorism Risk Insurance Program for ten years and would make the Secretary of Homeland Security the lead in the certification process, instead of Treasury. A link to the bill is here.
Western States Loss Control Conference
July 17-19, 2013
NLC-RISC Staff Conference
October 21-23, 2013
The Nines ~ Portland, Oregon