Tag Archives: Grand Bargain

Florida State Supreme Court Upholds Law’s Validity

Following up on what I reported on earlier this week, the Supreme Court of Florida unanimously decided not to review Daniel Stahl v. Hialeah Hospital, according to Business Insurance’s Stephanie Goldberg.

In my previous post, I mentioned that the 1st District Court of Appeal had ruled that attorney fee schedules violated state law.

But the Court of Appeal also ruled back in March in the above referenced case, that the workers comp system was an adequate exclusive remedy, Ms. Goldberg said in her article.

The State Supreme Court accepted jurisdiction to review the decision, and said in its ruling that, “after further consideration and hearing oral argument in this case, we have determined that we should exercise our discretion and discharge jurisdiction.”

So for the time being, it would seem that Florida’s Workers’ Compensation law is constitutional, and until other cases that are pending are resolved (see my articles, “Constitutionality of Workers’ Comp Challenged: What that could mean for Medical Travel“, “Update on Constitutionality of Work Comp in Florida“, and “Advocacy Group Petitions Florida Supreme Court to Review Work Comp Constitutionality“), Florida’s injured workers will still have something to protect them.

I am willing to work with any broker, carrier, or employer interested in saving money on expensive surgeries, and to provide the best care for their injured workers or their client’s employees.

Ask me any questions you may have on how to save money on expensive surgeries under workers’ comp.

I am also looking for a partner who shares my vision of global health care for injured workers.

I am also willing to work with any health care provider, medical tourism facilitator or facility to help you take advantage of a market segment treating workers injured on the job. Workers’ compensation is going through dramatic changes, and may one day be folded into general health care. Injured workers needing surgery for compensable injuries will need to seek alternatives that provide quality medical care at lower cost to their employers. Caribbean and Latin America region preferred.

Call me for more information, next steps, or connection strategies at (561) 738-0458 or (561) 603-1685, cell. Email me at: richard_krasner@hotmail.com.

Will accept invitations to speak or attend conferences.

Connect with me on LinkedIn, check out my website, FutureComp Consulting, and follow my blog at: richardkrasner.wordpress.com.

Transforming Workers’ Blog is now viewed all over the world in 250 countries and political entities. I have published nearly 300 articles, many of them re-published in newsletters and other blogs.

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Three Years and Counting

Today, October 29, 2015, marks three years since I began writing this blog.

Before you offer your congratulations, let me tell you that the third year has been the hardest year to write for.

Why that is so is because there has been less written in the blogosphere about workers’ comp that is new and different from all the other years I have been writing.

After writing about the opioid abuse issue, the constitutionality of the exclusive remedy provision of the “grand bargain”, and the expansion of opt-out, among other challenges facing workers’ comp. there isn’t a whole hell of a lot that hasn’t been discussed ad infinitum.

You may have noticed that some of my posts more recently have shifted into the health care arena, and I have attempted to tie those issue to workers’ comp and implementing medical travel.

I have tried this year to get brokers, carriers, and employers to contact me personally by including an action statement at the end of every post, but even those had to be discarded when there was no response.

Yet, I persist in writing. Perhaps I am doing exactly what I have criticized the industry for doing, that is, doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results. However, in my case, I firmly believe that what I am doing is right, and have been fortunate this year to finally find some independent person who has the same idea (more on that at a later date).

One thing I have noticed is that as I re-publish my previous posts through Twitter and LinkedIn, especially with the help of Buffer, that I have been getting a few more views, and a few more “likes” on my articles than I did when they were first published.

I would prefer that I get more attention to what I am advocating and can turn my writing into a profitable venture that will provide me with steady income, but most importantly, give injured workers and their employers the opportunity to get better medical care and to save money.

The savings may not be there on a one-to-one basis, but in the aggregate, it may pay off, especially as health care costs in the US continue to rise unabated.

And I have continued to defend my idea to those of limited vision and understanding, because I know the direction human society is going, and I know that one day, it will not matter where one gets medical care, or any other service. A little known part of the TPP now being considered is called TISA, the Trade in Services Agreement, which I have been told, will be signed into law in the near future.

What impact that will have on the transfer of services is yet unknown, but many believe it will open up markets for such services as medical travel, as other trade agreements have opened up markets for goods and capital transfers, not to mention jobs.

So, I am optimistic that somehow this will happen. In the meantime, I continue to write as long as my fingers and brain allow me to write. Thank you for sticking with me these past three years.

Update on Constitutionality of Work Comp in Florida

Three weeks ago, I discussed a workers’ compensation case here in Florida where the Plaintiff and his attorney alleged that the Florida workers’ compensation act was unconstitutional.

The article, Constitutionality of Workers’ Comp Challenged: What that could mean for Medical Travel, suggested that if the Florida act was ruled unconstitutional, there could be an opening for medical travel in workers’ comp in Florida, as both injured workers and their employers would no longer be subjected to administrative law judges and the courts.

At that time, it was speculative if the workers’ comp act would be ruled unconstitutional. But as CA attorney David De Paolo wrote yesterday on his blog about another case in Florida, the judge in that case declared the system to be unconstitutional.

According to De Paolo, a ruling on Wednesday by Miami-Dade Circuit Judge Jorge Cueto in Padgett vs. State of Florida, said that the exclusive remedy provision of Section 440.11 is facially unconstitutional.

David reported that the basis for Judge Cueto’s ruling is that over the years the Florida workers’ compensation act’s original grant of benefits for permanent disability, which was part of the “Grand Bargain,” has been so eroded as to no longer serve as an adequate remedy.

Judge Cueto, David says, cited the original constitutional test of the exclusive remedy of workers’ compensation in the United States Supreme Court case of New York Central Railroad v. White, 243 US 188 (1917), a case in which ironically the business community sought to declare compulsory workers’ compensation laws unconstitutional.

According to David, Judge Cueto quoted one of the more powerful passages in that case:

“One of the grounds of its concern (the workers’ compensation act in question) with the continued life and earning power of the individual is its interest in the prevention of pauperism, with its concomitants of vice and crime.”

For years, David tells us, attorneys representing injured workers throughout the nation have been saying that the compensation bargain has been eroded and one need only visit all of the various injured worker “forums” on the Internet to see that this particular demographic feels pushed into pauperism as a consequence of industrial injury.

What the judge is actually saying, David explains, is that if the remedy provided by the Florida Act is mandatory and exclusive, then it doesn’t meet constitutional muster because there isn’t enough money to keep injured workers from diving into pauperism, which harms all of society and places excessive burdens on other systems such as Social Security or Medicare (or what we like to call in our sanitized jargon “cost shifting”).

In previous posts, The Stench of Fraud: Why Workers’ Comp Can No Longer Be a Closed System and The Stench of Fraud, Continued, I discussed the plight of someone I called “Ms. X”. This individual has been abused by the system in her state, and has been reduced to some level of pauperism by the system for its failures to adequately and fairly treat her for her work-related injuries. As I reported at the time, she has been abused by both the medical profession in CA, the legal profession, her former employer, and is now subject to having her communication, both telephonic and internet, being monitored by defense attorneys.

In light of the civil unrest in Ferguson, Missouri and the militarization of the police there, one has to assume that we are living in a police state more like that of Communist China, Cuba, and North Korea, as well as the former Soviet Union, instead of the US. I can see why Judge Cueto ruled as he did in the Padgett case, since the injured worker is being treated like a political prisoner or a common criminal, instead of as someone who needs to be taken care of when suffering an injury arising out of and in the course of their employment.

But back to the case before us.

Without going any deeper into the ruling itself, and to get to the wider point of what it means for workers’ compensation, let me say that as David mentions in his blog, the adequacy of benefits in workers’ compensation is getting the attention of the judicial system from coast to coast.” He goes on further to say that in California, the constitutionality of the state’s system is being picked at piece by piece.

In addition, last year, he states, the Texas Office of Injured Employees Counsel released a couple of reports suggesting the dispute resolution system lacked constitutional protections for injured workers, and there are other states where workers’ compensation laws are being questioned as conforming to the original bargain in one form or another.

He also points to the Oklahoma opt-out (see my posts, Opt-out as a way in: Implementing Medical Tourism into Workers’ Compensation and Opt-out as a way in: An Update for more in-depth understanding of what an opt-out program is), as well as the constitutional attacks, complaints about costs and inadequate benefits, and says that what is really going on here is a debate that he’s been having for quite some time: Is workers’ compensation even relevant any longer?

I think another point that needs to be made is this: are our politicians, or at least some of them (the Tea Party/Libertarian wing of the GOP) trying to undo the rights of injured workers the same way many of their governors have been doing to public employee and private employee unions since a former head of the Screen Actors Guild became their knight in shining armor and patron saint.

David goes on to add, and I agree with him that, this debate is getting louder and, as work comp is a microcosm of society, it points to larger issues facing society – a huge discord between the minority of “haves” versus the vast majority of “have nots.” In other words, between the “one percent” and Willard Mittens Romney’s (aka, Thurston Howell III) “forty-seven percent”.

But what is really happening at a much deeper level is that ever since the late 1970’s or early 1980’s (“Well, there you go again!”), the US has been in the grip of what Said Dawlabani calls “the only money matters” vMeme. This vMeme (or value system) is what has been driving the American economy off a cliff for more than thirty years, and is being orchestrated by the players on Wall Street.

We have seen this in nearly every industry that Wall Street gets its grubby little hands on. It has happened in retail, in banking, insurance, health care, and now workers’ comp. My fellow blogger, Joe Paduda has written extensively about the corporate buyouts of third party claims administrators and claims management companies, as well as other service providers to the workers’ comp industry such as pharmacy benefit management firms and translation/transportation companies.

These acquisitions have either come from competitors buying up each other, or from private equity firms seeing the potential of big payouts to their investors from workers’ compensation. But in the consolidation and accumulation of companies that has taken place over the years, jobs have been lost, workers have been ignored or forgotten as the main reason why workers’ comp exists in the first place, and as I’ve said many times before, it is a broken and dysfunctional system that is too dependent on the legal system or on doctors who are milking the system for all they can.

The social safety net that began to be weaved one hundred years ago, from the enactment of workers’ comp to Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, is being slowly unravaled by Ayn Rand devotees who think such things are “entitlements”, but who believe that a millionaire or billionaire who gets a tax break at our expense is a “job creator”, and therefore they are entitled to get wealthier. Yet, I’d like to see how wealthy they’d be without workers making the goods or providing the services that they are getting rich from.

David brings up one other point about the judge’s ruling and its meaning that I also agree with. He says that Judge Cueto in the Padgett case is really opening up a debate about whether society is taking care of its own any longer, and that the Padgett case is about social unrest. We are, indeed, meandering into challenging times where the nation’s soul is being examined.

And I would add, that it is incumbent on everyone who cares for sick or injured people, no matter whether they are rich or poor, that they get the best care available and at the lowest cost possible, even if that means having them travel to other countries to get it. Because in the final analysis, if the Rand Paul’s and Paul Ryan’s and the Letter to the Editor writers to the Wall Street Journal, Fox News viewers and talk radio ditto heads get their way, this country will look like it did in 1789, not 2014.

Medical travel may be able to salvage some of the social safety net, but the industry must make that decision. The future medical care of injured American workers depends on it if the Padgett case stands.

Constitutionality of Workers’ Comp Challenged: What that could mean for Medical Travel

David De Paolo posted on his blog today about a case in Florida where the plaintiffs are challenging the constitutionality of Florida’s workers’ comp system on the grounds that the various reforms over the many years the system has been in existence has served to devalue the workers’ compensation program to such a degree that it no longer can be said to meet its constitutionally declared objectives.

The plaintiffs in Julio Cortes v Velda Farms allege, according to De Paolo, that the comp system became “unconstitutional as an exclusive remedy in stages,” as lawmakers made changes that slowly eroded the benefits and protections available to workers.

The plaintiffs argue that up until 1968, parties could “opt-out” of participating in the comp system, much in the way Texas and Oklahoma are allowing employers to do now, but when workers’ compensation became the exclusive remedy for industrial injuries in 1970, the plaintiffs argue that lawmakers did not provide workers with anything in exchange for completely taking away their right to sue.

The plaintiffs are basing their argument on a 1973 case that asserted that anytime the Legislature takes away a right that had previously been guaranteed to the citizens of the state, it must provide a “reasonable alternative.”

De Paolo says that the plaintiffs have a long way to go in proving their case, but it made me stop and think of what might happen if the workers’ comp system was declared unconstitutional, and what that could mean for medical travel.

First of all, the employees might file claims under the employer’s group heaIth plan, so as part of the benefits package, the employer could offer medical travel as a option under their health plan. Second, it could mean that employers and employees might be more willing to pursue medical care out of state, for different reasons, of course. Employers would be interested in saving money and the employees would be interested in getting treated in their home countries.

Given the workforce demographic in Florida, medical treatment in their home countries in Latin America and the Caribbean would be more likely once injured workers and their employers are no longer be subject to administrative law judges and the courts, and that may boost medical travel in the region.