Any willing provider law to pass in AR

It is highly likely that Arkansas will pass so-called “any willing provider” legislation in the very near future. For those of us who thought those days had thankfully passed, do not despair as it is unlikely this will spark a wave of similar ill-conceived moves in other jurisdictions.
The impetus for the new law was the inability of a member of Arkansas’ legislature to obtain care at his facility of choice for prostate cancer. Interesting how these things happen…
While the bill passed both the AR house and senate with overwhelming majorities, and will be signed into law by Gov. Mike Huckabee, it comes at a time when medical trend rates continue their stubborn ways, sitting at three times the overall rate of inflation. While a nice idea, practically speaking, “any willing provider” laws fly in the face of mounting evidence as to the importance and significant positive impact of the “right provider”. They also remove the “volume v. discounts” incentive used by managed care plans to convince providers to participate.


Concentra receives subpoena

Concentra (CISI) announced today that it has received a subpoena from the New York State Attorney General requesting “documents and information regarding CISI’s relationships with third party administrators and health care providers in connection with the NYAG’s review of contractual relationships in the workers’ compensation industry.”
Any speculation regarding the specific reasons for the investigation would be just that. However, some general statements can be made about business practices in the WC managed care industry that may be influencing the AG’s investigation.
1. It is common for managed care firms to pay third party administrators (TPAs) a percentage of their revenues from business referred by the TPA. Typically this is in the 5% range.
2. While most TPAs “disclose” this arrangement, it is often contained within language that makes it fairly difficult to discern the actual meaning. For example, there may be wording similar to “the TPA reserves the right to assess an administrative fee on vendors used by the client”.
3. There is a long-established tradition of gifts from managed care vendors to claims adjusters, managers, and other staff, with either an overt or subtle link between the gifts and future business. These gifts can occasionally “cross the line” into expensive territory.
4. At the very least, the “percentage of savings” method of paying for network services does incent the TPA to utilize networks that over-utilize and over-charge for savings.
This is not meant to imply that any of the above activities were or are going on at Concentra. As the largest WC managed care firm, they may just be the most apparent target.


Medical costs in auto claims

Medical costs for auto claims are rapidly increasing in at least three states studied by The Insurance Research Council. The highest growth was 122% in Colorado, followed by 60% in NY and 37% in FL over the 1997-2002 period. MI costs stayed flat.
Why? What’s different about these states?
–PIP claimants in the three “higher inflation” states (CO NY FL) were more than twice as likely to see a chiropractor than the Michiganders
–and when they did see a chiro, the average total charge was three times higher in CO and FL than in MI and NY (roughly $4500 v $1500)
–CO and NY claimants were twice as likely to see a PT as MI and FL claimants
One possible reason for these discrepancies is the limits on bodily injury claims – all the states EXCEPT MI have monetary thresholds that have to be exceeded before a suit can be filed. MI’s standard is verbal – “injuries that lead to serious permanent disfigurement, serious impairment of bodily function, or death.”
So, where’s the cause and effect?
It is possible (cynics say even likely) that injured parties in the dollar threshold states pile up the costs to exceed the threshold, which allows them to sue to get even more money.