Conservative: disposed to preserve existing conditions, institutions, etc., or to restore traditional ones, and to limit change.
A friend suggested to me this evening that the industry has not moved as quickly as they had hoped, and I began to think about this with regard to the more than one hundred articles I have written on the subject of implementing medical tourism into workers’ comp. My friend was commenting on the lack of speed to move forward with a proposal they presented to a client. It then occurred to me that I needed to say something about this, because of late, I have refrained from my usual habit of passionately advocating and defending the idea of medical tourism for expensive surgeries in workers’ comp.
So the title of my article does not refer to the political definition of the word conservative, although, there are some political conservatives in the industry who in the past have attacked this idea as ridiculous and a non-starter. Yet, I have heard from a few small voices out there, many of whom are much more knowledgeable and wiser than I, that this is not the case and that it is a good idea, if not for the rules and regulations that have limited change and preserved the existing order. So the question must be asked, is being too conservative a good thing for the workers’ comp industry?
You have read many of my articles about the issues of opioid drug abuse in workers’ comp, about the fraud and abuse many have suffered at the hands of those in the industry who are supposed to help them, but who instead only seek to line their own pockets, and those of the service providers and hangers-on of the gravy train called workers’ compensation. And you have read about all the other issues plaguing workers’ comp that never seem to be solved, but only require more money, more new programs and “solutions” to be adopted that only scratch the surface of the real problem.
I have, in the past, railed against doing the same things over and over again, and expecting different results, and yet, day after day, week after week, month after month, the conservative mindset in this industry, as the definition above states, is disposed to preserving existing conditions, and to limiting change. Change which the industry needs to realize is necessary and required for the continuation of the workers’ comp system, otherwise it will either cease to exist or will break down from its own failures and ineptitude.
My good friend Joe Paduda this morning gave us a preview of the upcoming WCRI conference through an email interview with the WCRI Executive Director, Rick Victor. One of the questions Joe asked Dr. Victor was the following: “what has been the most surprising result that will be discussed at WCRI?” Dr. Victor replied, that “an underappreciated, but likely very significant unintended consequence of the Affordable Care Act is shifting cases from group health to workers’ compensation.”
If this assessment is correct, then the workers’ comp industry’s problems just got a whole lot worse, and failure to change and adapt to new ideas and new means of providing the best quality medical care at the lowest cost, will only make things even more dire. But when the conference is over in a couple of weeks, all the attendees will go home, report to their superiors, and go about their business as usual, while the orchestra plays on the Titanic (or Nero fiddles while Rome burns, if you are a history buff).
My last two posts touched upon the subject of globalization and the globalization of health care. Maria Todd rightly points out that it will take some time to achieve. Yet, this industry has closed its mind and its eyes to the changes all around them, pretending they do not exist or are not happening.
That is why being too conservative is not a good thing for workers’ comp, because any system that fails to adapt will become extinct. Being too conservative, too cautious and too afraid of change can be very deadly, not only to people, but to institutions and systems such as workers’ comp. So all you dinosaurs out there, keep ignoring what is staring you in the face. They will be digging up your “bones” far into the future.