ABA Discusses Health Care In The Obama Age


Boston, MA (CompNewsNetwork) - Professor Dean Hashimoto of Boston College Law School presented "Health Care in the Obama Age" at the American Bar Association's 2011 Workers Compensation Midwinter Seminar and Conference today in Boston. He discussed health care topics affecting Workers' Compensation with focuses on 24 hour coverage, genetic testing under GINA, and the ABA's Taskforce on the American Medical Association's 6th Edition Guides for the Rating of Permanent Impairment.


Hashimoto reviewed the major features of Health Care Reform, which he outlined as insuring the uninsured, improve access to care, and remove pre-existing medical condition exclusion.


Professor Hashimoto takes a look at how health care reform impacts medical inflationary costs in Workers Compensation. Workers' Compensation medical inflation has been substantially higher than inflation in group health insurance and about 80% of medical costs are driven by utilization rates, not payment structure such as the number of physical therapies.


There has been less incentive to cost-shift into Workers' Compensation because many of the uninsured are young and healthy. Along with the reduction of Workers' Compensation, medical injuries are less severe due to healthier workers.


The majority of ABA members presenting said that improving access to doctors by the general population will not hurt access to medical care by Workers' Compensation recipients, as well as removing pre-existing exclusions from general health insurance policies will not impact Workers' Comp.


What changes can be made to medical treatment patterns?


According to Hashimoto, Health Care reform, for starters, can do bundled payments, care organizations should be held accountable, along with medical homes. Workers' Compensation can decrease medical reimbursement rates, increase specialized Workers' Compensation treatment networks, and finally, increase the reliance on treatment guidelines and utilization rates.


WC medical inflation has been substantially higher than inflation in group health insurance.


Going Beyond, Hashimoto asks, "What's Next?"


 - We don't know, there are many unknowns

 - Most likely long term impact will be associated with reductions in Medicare reimbursements

 - Possible elimination of occupational health and safety education and research centers

 - Promote electronic medical records

 - Promote health awareness to employees

 - Academic training centers for occupational health physicians and nurses


The ABA Midwinter Seminar runs through Saturday.





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