Insight, analysis & opinion from Joe Paduda


Monday morning catch-up

Like many, Friday was a quasi-work day for me; rest assured this post will return to its usual Friday timing this week.

While things were a bit quiet, there were a few items worthy of note.

First up, the big news for the week was the announcement that Vern Steiner will be the State Fund of California’s new CEO and President.  While I’ve met Vern a time or two, I don’t know him well; those who do speak highly of him.  He’s a very experienced claims pro, well liked and very well respected.  His election to the top slot appears to indicate the State Fund board is “doubling down” on the claims process as that is precisely where Steiner’s skills lie.  A couple people who know him well told me Vern is particularly adept at leveraging technology and putting teams together.  In the ever-fractious world of CA work comp, the latter will be key.  Fortunately, word is Steiner and the other leading candidate, interim CEO Carol Newton, get along well.

My admittedly-far-away-view is that Steiner’s biggest challenge may well be dealing (or not) with a few folks who seem to delight in finding fault with anything and everything State Fund-related.  I will not give advice here other than to suggest we all give the new CEO some time to get things figured out before we start demanding things.

Word is MedAllocators will likely be sold to Examworks for something in the $75 million range.  This isn’t a done deal, as another suitor is rumored to still remain in the mix.  Regardless, the company will be sold.  Congratulations to everyone at MedAllocators, and to Ken Loffredo who oversaw significant growth of the company.  I’m still puzzling over EXAM’s strategy; they are clearly focused on the MSA business as this will be their second deal after the earlier purchase of Gould & Lamb.

Meanwhile, their stock price has dropped rather significantly over the last couple of weeks after several management folks sold off a lot of their shares.  I don’t pretend to understand how stocks are valued, but it still looks awfully pricey to me (I don’t have any position in EXAM).

PT and Imaging company MedRisk (an HSA consulting client) will be adding significant new business (significant as in eight figures) in the very near future; with the first one a “crooked number”.  Kudos to Mike Ryan, Jamie Davis, Ed McBurnie, and the rest of the sales staff – although the real reason for their success is the dramatic improvements in service levels and customer (that’s adjuster and exec) satisfaction over the last 18 months.

In what looks to be yet another re-organization of the managed care department, Liberty Mutual has posted for a Director of Managed Care. The job description talks a lot about medical case management; my take is that may be more a result of an HR person not fully understanding the job than an accurate portrayal of responsibilities.  There are some very good, highly experienced, and completely capable folks currently at 175 Berkeley Street; here’s hoping the powers-that-be don’t ignore them.

Finally, there was a good bit of news on PPACA rollout and related matters, enough to justify a complete post on that later this week.

Happy June – hope yours is productive and pleasant.

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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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