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Work comp conference – day one

The annual gathering of the tribes has begun, with vendors and prospects flooding into Vegas. This year Nancy Grover reports attendance is up with only two cancelations due to Sandy.  Having lived thru that storm I understand why folks want to move on to some semblance of normal.

Here are a few random thoughts from yesterday.

Odyssey continues to build what has become the largest – and most interesting – collection of “assets” in the comp services business. The acquisition of Harbor Health gives them a very valuable view into provider performance, one that will certainly support their other service lines.

if there’s one predominant theme I’ve seen so far it is OPIOIDS. There’s a track devoted to the topic (I’m on a lead off session this am); Modern Medical announced a comprehensive, integrated approach last night; there are several booths with the word prominently featured, and Emil Bravo’s WorkCompWire piece this week addresses the issue as well.

There are a plethora of private equity industry folks here; investors, research firms, and attorneys and investment banks. With several companies currently “going thru the process”, one would be well-advised to be circumspect in comments and conversations about certain firms, as some folks are almost certainly here just to learn what they can about the companies in play.

There’s an upbeat feeling here. Whether its the improving work comp premium and loss picture, the sense that the economy is finally recovering for good, or something less obvious, people are more upbeat and positive Than last year and way happier than they were a couple years back.

There’s a LOT of this evident among the TPAs. I met with the CEO of one of the largest yesterday; there’s good activity and a good bit more likely coming as insurance rates continue to creep up.

Id be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the continued strength of Sedgwick. As the first among equals, the giant TPA took a bold step at the Conference last year in committing to full transparency, offering to show their clients their contracts with vendors and details of financial flows. CEO Dave North is to be commended for that commitment.

Posts will be several and hurried over the next few days; lots to do and little time to proof so apologies for typos in advance.

Joe Paduda is the principal of Health Strategy Associates



A national consulting firm specializing in managed care for workers’ compensation, group health and auto, and health care cost containment. We serve insurers, employers and health care providers.



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