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April 02, 2005 6:04 PM
Workers' Compensation News - April 4, 2005 Volume 3 Issue 304

 VIRGINIA TRIAL LAWYERS DISCUSS MEDICARE SECONDARY PAYER ACT
For these stories and others visit our web site http://www.gelmans.com

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HOT TOPICS SEMINAR MATERIAL NOW AVAILABLE

-New NJ Temporary and Medical Motion Form
-New Asbestos Fund Forms
-New CMS - MSP Memos
-New Aged Case Memos
-Newly Proposed Asbestos Fund Rules
and much more......
Presenters: Robert E. Taren, Esq. (CA); Hon. Ray A. Farrington; Hon. Rose Mary Granados; Hon. Lawrence G. Moncher; Nancy Johnson, Esq.; Richard V. Jones, Esq.; Kenneth D. Mackler, Esq.; Linda Schober, Esq.; John R. Tort, Jr., Esq.
Topics include: how to prepare and defend a silicosis case; how should outstanding medical bills be paid; asbestos litigation under the newly proposed coverage rules; handling cases where a public employee may receive an ordinary disability pension; interaction of Social Security benefits with a workers’ compensation claim; commutation of a workers’ compensation award; handling motions for medical and temporary benefits; what to do if your case is deemed an “aged” case; when are recreational activities compensable; Second Injury Fund; and more.

Material including the audio and handouts from THE YEAR IN WORKERS’ COMP – THE TOP 10 ISSUES & CASES – 2nd Annual
are now available from NJ Institute For Continuing Legal Education. 3.8.2005
http://www.njicle.com/cgi-bin/njicle?SessionID=2&doc=/Catalog/books/YearWC_M148505.htm

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NEW STUDY OF BRIGHAM RNs SHOWS LASTING EFFECTS OF POOR AIR QUALITY
A recently completed study of registered nurses at Brigham & Women's Hospital who were negatively impacted by poor indoor air quality at the facility in the late 1980's and early 1990's found that a majority of the nurses report a sustained compromise in their health status 10 years after toxic exposures were identified in their work environment.

The study, conducted by the MNA and UMass Amherst, is the first of its kind to track the long-term health effects of exposure to poor indoor air quality and sheds light on an issue that first made local and national headlines due to the courage and conviction of the nurses of Brigham & Women's to bring the issue to public consciousness (see related story on this page) a decade ago. 
http://www.massnurses.org/health/docs/2003ResearchBWHMNA.doc

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OWENS CORNING'S ASBESTOS LIABILITIES SET AT $7 BILLION BY FEDERAL JUDGE
OC's asbestos liability put at $7 billion by U.S. judge
Choosing a midpoint between estimates of opposing creditor groups, a federal judge has ruled that Owens Corning is exposed to $7 billion in potential claims by people who were made sick by exposure to asbestos insulation produced by the firm until the early 1970s.
http://toledoblade.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20050402/BUSINESS03/504020362/-1/BUSINESS

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NJM SELECTS GUIDWARE CLAIMS SYSTEM
NJM Insurance Group, a property-casualty insurer based in New Jersey, has chosen to deploy the ClaimCenter platform from San Mateo, California-based Guidewire Software as its new claims system.
Under the terms of the agreement, the ClaimCenter program will help automate and streamline NJM's claims process and provide the flexibility to address its evolving business needs by managing claims for all of NJM's primary lines of business, which includes annual written premiums in auto insurance, homeowners and workers' compensation. 
NJM hopes to tailor the system to its own requirements without the custom programming required by traditional systems. Guidewire added that the program's integration layer supports NJM's architectural standards and enables interfaces to legacy systems.

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MISSOURI REFORMS WORKERS' COMPENSATION
Missouri's Legislature has sent workers compensation and tort reform bills to Gov. Matt Blunt, who is expected to sign the measures.
http://www.businessinsurance.com/cgi-bin/news.pl?newsId=5217

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CALIFORNIA ATTORNEY GET HIVES AND HYPERTENSION OVER NEW WC LAW
Few attorneys are settling work comp cases because of the legal uncertainties surrounding CA's revamped rules. Lawmakers continue to introduce bills that will change the law even though it hasn't been fully implemented. This is creating serious backlogs that are preventing injured workers from getting benefits. 
http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-comp27mar27,0,1480781.story?coll=la-home-business

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POPCORN WORKER AWARDED $15MILLION INJURED BY FLAVOR
Companies knew hazards of ingredient, lawyer claims, but failed to warn. A Jasper County jury on Friday delivered a $15 million verdict in favor of a former Jasper Popcorn Co. plant maintenance man and his wife in their lawsuit against the makers of a butter flavoring used at the plant.
http://www.joplinglobe.com/story.php?story_id=174529&c=87

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MEDICARE TRUSTEES REPORT FINIANCIAL TROUBLES
Trustees report that Medicare's financial difficulties come sooner--and are much more severe--than those confronting Social Security. While both programs face essentially the same demographic challenge, underlying health care costs per enrollee are projected to rise faster than the wages per worker on which the payroll tax is paid and on which Social Security benefits are based. As a result, while Medicare's annual costs are currently 2.6 percent of GDP, or about 60 percent of Social Security's, they are now projected to surpass Social Security expenditures in 2024 and reach almost 14 percent of GDP in 2079. 
Report http://www.ssa.gov/OACT/TRSUM/trsummary.html

MEDICARE MONTHLY PREMIUMS TO INCREASE MORE THAN 14% in 2006
Medicare premiums continue to rise at an alarming rate. The 2006 premium will be $89.20 per month::
Monthly premiums for Medicare Part B, which covers outpatient services, were $66.60 last year and rose to $78.20 for 2005. In its March 23 report, the Medicare Board of Trustees projected an increase of $9.50 a month, but it now will be $11. 
With increased demand and scheduled reductions in the fees Medicare pays physicians, the American Medical Association warned yesterday that doctors may think twice before taking Medicare patients. 
"These cuts pose a serious threat to access to care for seniors," said AMA board Chairman J. James Rohack. "No senior citizen should have to worry whether their physician can afford to accept Medicare patients." 
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A16947-2005Mar31.html?nav=rss_politics

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TARGETS FOR WC REFORM: TX & IL NATIONAL UNDERWRITER REPORTS
Texas and Illinois are shaping up as the big battleground states for workers' comp reform.
http://www.nationalunderwriter.com/pandc/nuonline/030705/p09wc_softening.asp

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Calendar:

AFSCME - Your Rights to Workers' Compensation
Monday, April 4, 2005
A program for injured workers. Co-Sponsored by NY AFL-CIO, NYCOSH, Cornell University
Your Rights to Workers’ Compensation: How to File and Win Your Claim When Injured on the Job. At District Council 37, AFSCME, 125 Barclay Street, New York City. Cost: Free. Sponsored by: New York Committee for Occupational Safety and Health (NYCOSH), New York State AFL-CIO, and the Union Leadership Program, Cornell University, New York State School of Industrial Labor Relations. 
For information call NYCOSH at (212)627-3900 extension 10.Reservations are required. Space is limited. 
http://www.nycosh.org/UPDATE/WcompFlyer2005-2.pdf

25th ANNUAL NATIONAL WORKERS' COMPENSATION AND OCCUPATIONAL MEDICINE CONFERENCE JULY 2005
July 19-21, 2005, Hyannis, Cape Cod, Massachusetts
-Managing Workers' Compensation Claims While Navigating the Treacherous Waters of the Medicare Secondary Payer Act
-Trial Demonstration: The Contested Hearing Loss Case
http://www.seak.com/semjul05WC.htm

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