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August 13, 2004 10:02 PM
Workers' Compensation News - August 18, 2004 Volume 2 Issue 232

 Medicare Expands Drugs Available Under Program to Help Beneficiaries with Severe Illnesses - A New CMS/MSP Issue for Reimbursement?

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LIBERTY MUTUAL'S BONDS MAY DIVE TO JUNK VALUE
Reuters News Service reported on Friday, August 18th that due to Liberty Mutual's performance its bonds may be lowered to junk status.
http://www.reuters.com/financeNewsArticle.jhtml?type=bondsNews&storyID=5972977

The Wall Street Jouranl has also reported that Moody's Moody's Investors Service has placed the long-term ratings of Liberty Mutual Group Inc. (LMGI) -- senior unsecured debt at Baa3 - and its subsidiaries have now been placed on review for possible downgrade.
http://online.wsj.com/search (Subscription req'd)

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NJ 2005 WORKERS' COMPENSATION RATES
For Calendar Year 2005, the maximum workers' compensation weekly benefit rate for temporary total disability, permanent total disability, permanent partial disability and dependency benefits will be $666.

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ASBESTOS COMPROMISE LEGISLATION OFFERED
Sen. Feinstein Offers Asbestos Fund Compromise
Draft legislation that aims to bridge the gap between competing Senate plans for a U.S. asbestos compensation fund is being circulated by California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein. 
http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=politicsNews&storyID=5974241

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CMS OFFERING DATA SHARE AND INQUIRY SERVICES TO INSURANCE COMPANIES
Beneficiary Automated Status and Inquiry System 
The Beneficiary Automated Status and Inquiry System (BASIS) is available to participants of the Voluntary Data Sharing Agreement (VDSA) program. The BASIS allows you to make on-line Medicare entitlement queries to CMS’ Enrollment Data Base (EDB) to determine if an individual is a Medicare beneficiary and if so, obtain available entitlement information. The BASIS serves as a useful tool when you have a need to know specific information during the interval between quarterly file exchanges.
http://www.cms.hhs.gov/medicare/cob/insurers/in_home.asp

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CALIFORNIA DEFENSE ATTORNEYS QUESTION APPLICANTS TACTICS - A BRIGHTLINE NEEDED?
The California Applicants’ Attorneys Association CAAA has added injured worker “horror stories” to its web site and continues to fight the retroactive application of provisions in SB 899. But defense attorneys say that by fighting the law on every front, the applicants’ bar may just invite more legislative tinkering. The site contains a handwritten letter from a widow of an injured worker whose husband died only days earlier.
http://www.wcexec.com/
http://www.capinsurancerates.org/horror_stories/JamieTraceyLtr.pdf

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NEW YORK BEST VIRTUAL CALL CENTER - WORKERS' COMPENSATION
Governor George E. Pataki congratulated seven state agencies for receiving "Best of New York" awards from the Center for Digital Government.
Best Application Serving the Public Virtual Call Center New York State Workers Compensation Board
http://www.wcb.state.ny.us/content/main/PressRe/BestOf.htm

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