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Friday catch-up

A busy week indeed!

Here’s what happened that’s worthy of your attention.

The Feds have been all over healthcare fraud for several years; earlier this week, Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced charges against 301 people accused of defrauding taxpayers – that’s us, folks – of almost a billion dollars.

Over the last decade, the Medicare Fraud Strike Force has charged “2,900 people with health-care fraud, who have billed Medicare for $8.9 billion.”  Note that doesn’t include Medicaid and private insurer fraud; I’d be surprised if the alleged miscreants weren’t going after every payer.

Workers’ comp

There’s been much talk of late about “broken” workers’ comp systems, a good bit of which has been hyperbolic and based on shrill trumpeting of anecdotal reports of payer screw-ups.  Rick Victor PhD, formerly WCRI Executive Director and now with the Sedgwick Institute provides a needed review of the facts in his latest missive.  A couple highlights:

  • The overwhelming majority of injured workers return to work and do so to their pre-injury employer at the same or higher pay
  • Most workers receive their first indemnity payment without dispute or substantial delay
  • By an overwhelming majority, most workers were satisfied with medical care received

I’d suggest that, like any and every other social benefit mechanism, work comp does have its issues, problems, shortfalls, and screwups, it works well for the vast majority of patients.

Yes, we can always do better.  Yes, there are bad actors.  But no, workers’ comp is NOT broken.

ODG delisting from National Guideline Clearinghouse

The kerfuffle about ODG’s removal from the NGC is a teaching moment that risks being overwhelmed by marketing-speak.

The central issue is NGC’s definition of and requirements related to assessing, documenting and applying scientific evidence.  An unrelated but still-relevant issue is applying for listing on NGC is discretionary, and by no means should a decision to NOT apply be construed as “evidence” the guideline developer is somehow lacking.

A quick summary of “evidence” is here; you may well think this is anything BUT quick, however like many critically-important but somewhat obtuse subjects, the devil is in the details.

Another excellent – and shorter – synopsis is from the Institute of Medicine. The IOM has eight standards for “trustworthy” guidelines:

  • Establishing transparency;
  • Management of conflict of interest;
  • Guideline development group composition;
  • Clinical practice guideline–systematic review intersection;
  • Establishing evidence foundations for and rating strength of recommendations;
  • Articulation of recommendations;
  • External review; and
  • Updating.

Suffice it to say that one person’s (or company’s) definition of “evidence-based” may well be different from another person’s – or generally accepted standards.

I’m hoping to continue the discussion of “evidence” in future posts.

Well worth a read

David Williams writes often and clearly about health issues; a recent post caught my eye and I’ve returned to it several times since. David discusses robotic surgery, making the case that technology may well hit surgery – and surgeons – just as it will affect long-haul trucking.

A stupid comparison, you say.

Before you do, read his post.

Finally, Health Affairs is looking for articles/research on various aspects of work and health for its February 2017 edition.  Details here.

Enjoy the weekend.

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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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