Repaying More Aid When Students Drop Out

Repaying More Aid When Students Drop Out

Yet because of student withdrawals during a recent fall semester, the system still had to return about $2.6 million in student aid to the federal government.
Under a GOP proposal in the U.S. House of Representatives, however, the system projects its bill would hit $8.1 million for that semester alone.
Critics of the GOP approach said the proposal identifies a real problem while offering a solution that’s even more troublesome.
The problem for colleges is that they would keep no federal aid money under the formula if a student withdraws before a quarter of the term is over.
So institutions get a simpler repayment system but one that could leave them shouldering more of the costs for late-semester withdrawals and all of the costs when a student withdraws early in the semester.
Over a full academic year, Box said, the Kentucky system would face $16-17 million in repayments thanks to the provision.
Demanding that colleges do more to keep federal funds, Box said, ignores the reality that community colleges are already doing everything they can to get students to complete the semester.
Form of Risk Sharing Asked about complaints from community college leaders regarding the Title IV repayments, a spokesman for Representative Virginia Foxx, the Republican from North Carolina who is chairwoman of the House Education and the Workforce Committee, referred to the committee report on the bill.
But I’m hopeful they have heard us and see the impact that this will cause.” For-profit colleges, which serve similar groups of students as community colleges, share the same complaints about Title IV repayments in the PROSPER Act.
The PROSPER Act dictates that colleges return grant aid first, then loans.

Captives an option as marijuana sector seeks coverage

Captives an option as marijuana sector seeks coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Captive insurers can fill the numerous gaps that exist in insuring the cannabis industry, but owners need to be fully aware of the problems that could arise, including possible federal prosecution and civil forfeiture.
“It’s a risk that’s difficult to place.” California has taken steps to encourage insurers to write cannabis businesses.
In November 2017, Stockton, California-based Golden Bear Insurance Co. became the first admitted market to write marijuana coverage in the state, with the company able to write commercial general liability, premises liability and crime and theft coverage for cannabis operations in anticipation of marijuana being decriminalized in California for both medical and recreational purposes on Jan. 1.
But the law applies to medical marijuana, not recreational cannabis, Mr. Holahan noted.
Owners who want to cover cannabis exposures in their captives must be aware of the legal risks, he said.
“We’re not aware of any federal action against an insurance company or a bank for making or insuring the cannabis industry,” Ms. Dixon said.
“It’s definitely a matter of how much risk you are willing to take on, but for those who are willing to take the risk I think there are a lot of opportunities to do business with the cannabis industry.” Captives can be used to fill gaps and cover risks that surplus line carriers may exclude or place limits on, Mr. Fanoe said.
“We do no vetting.” Captives have “a pretty good starting point” for most coverages when developing rates as analogies can be drawn to similar types of operations in lines such as property and workers comp, but products liability and crop insurance are more difficult, Mr. Fanoe said.
“But that’s true of lots of coverages that people do write.
The legal landscape is always changing, so that doesn’t have to impede things too much.

Cigna, Express Scripts merger may have limited effect on comp sector

Cigna, Express Scripts merger may have limited effect on comp sector

Cigna Corp.’s $52 billion proposed acquisition of Express Scripts Holding Co. may eventually lead to lower drug costs for workers compensation payers, but it’s too early to tell how big those savings might be, experts say.
The health insurer’s announcement Thursday that it would buy the pharmacy benefits manager is part of an overall trend of health insurers attempting to align their business goals with those of PBMs.
The deal follows the $69 billion merger of insurer Aetna Inc. and one of Express Scripts’ biggest rivals, CVS Health Corp., announced last December.
The merger of St. Louis-based Express Scripts and Bloomfield, Connecticut-based Cigna will save $600 million annually due to improved administrative efficiencies, better coordination between pharmacy and medical claims and increased leverage in price negotiations with pharmaceutical companies, according to a statement by the companies.
Neither company returned calls seeking comment.
The overall savings could trickle into workers comp, said to Gerry Glombicki, Chicago-based director at Fitch Ratings Inc. “When vertical integration takes off and you are a part of it, you could be looking at cheaper medications for a specific subset of people … In aggregate, it is not going to move the needle much,” he said.
Joe Paduda, Skaneateles, New York-based president of CompPharma L.L.C., said it’s too soon to tell what the merger could do for workers comp, which is already seeing its drug spend down by double digits in recent years.
“(PBMs) have continued to demonstrate to payers that they effectively manage drugs,” he said.
“My strong sense is that they will continue to emphasize strong medical management and reduced opioids use.” The latest merger comes nearly a year after Express Scripts announced its purchase of Tampa, Florida-based Matrix Healthcare Services Inc., which does business as MyMatrixx.
That smaller PBM was touted as a market leader for workers comp clients, Express Scripts President and CEO Tim Wentworth said in a statement at the time of the purchase.

Special Election Results in Trump County Give Democrats Hope

Special Election Results in Trump County Give Democrats Hope

Until very recently, Bob Rogers, a retired coal miner in his seventies, thought his party was dead.
She voted for Lamb.
Indeed, the majority of voting Pennsylvania workers who spoke to TIME in the days leading up to the election affirmed they voted for Clinton, albeit reluctantly.
It’s a shame in this country that’s all they could come up for to run for president.” But most of these voters agree on something: that in recent years — some trace it to the Obama Administration; others go all the way back to Bill Clinton’s presidency — their party lost the thread.
Union support, Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid: these are the issues that the Democrats of western Pennsylvania considered the party’s bread and butter, and there was an abstract sense that they didn’t matter so much to the folks in Washington anymore.
“If they’re going to get rid of coal mines and get rid of pollution, if they’re gonna drop everybody from their jobs, then they need to have some system that picks those people up,” 73-year-old Carl Wade, another retired miner out rooting for Lamb, says.
Medicare, Social Security — those things you rely on once you retire.” Few of them seem to have ever seriously suspected that Trump would be a champion of social welfare, and even many of those who cast their ballot for him are now contrite.
It took me three months to realize I made a mistake voting for Trump.” Lamb’s success is a much-needed vote of confidence in a Democratic Party that has grappled with its political identity in the wake of Clinton’s seismic upset in 2016.
But in western Pennsylvania on Tuesday, Democratic voters weren’t worried about national implications or the next election.
“You really can’t trust ‘em,” one former mill worker said, “but I’ll put it this way: I like what Lamb’s doing, I’m always gonna vote regardless, and he’s my pick of the two.”

Nearly half of Calif. injured workers on opioids weaned after two years: Study

Nearly half of Calif. injured workers on opioids weaned after two years: Study

A new study found that 47% of injured workers with chronic opioid use weaned off the painkillers completely within 24 months and that those who did not wean reduced their opioid dosage by an average of 52%, the Workers Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California announced Thursday.
The Oakland, California-based ratings agency studied its databases of medical transaction records and unit statistical reports since July 2012 to examine the cost implications of chronic opioid use and the process of weaning injured workers off opioids statewide.
The study also found that claims involving chronic opioid use cost more than nine times in physician services than the average workers comp claim and that the median time from chronic opioid use to weaning completely was eight months.
Meanwhile, the median time from accident date to when the worker was weaned off completely was 19 months.
The study also examined types of injuries treated, finding that “over 80% of transactions associated with chronic opioid claimants had primary diagnoses of soft tissue injuries.
Injured workers who weaned off were more likely to have Nature of Injury codes for Fractures, and less likely to have Unspecified Injuries than those who did not wean off.”

Commercial insurance prices creep upward

Commercial insurance prices creep upward

Commercial insurance prices in the U.S. inched upward in the fourth quarter of 2017, according to a pricing survey released Monday by Willis Towers Watson P.L.C.
Price changes reported by carriers still averaged less than 1% for the 10th consecutive quarter, following a moderating trend in price increases that began in the first quarter of 2013, the brokerage said in a statement.
The WTW Commercial Lines Insurance Pricing Survey fourth-quarter update compares prices on policies written during the fourth quarter of 2017 with those from the fourth quarter of 2016.
Workers compensation and directors and officers liability saw “material” price decreases in the fourth quarter, the statement said.
Workers compensation saw larger price decreases than the prior quarter, in contrast to most other lines, the statement said.
Commercial property prices, which had been showing decreases for much of the recent past, now indicate increases in the low single digits, the statement said.
“Last year’s weather disasters were some of the most financially disruptive in history, and the survey results indicate we’re likely now seeing the initial response to the catastrophes on the pricing side of the property market,” Pierre Laurin, Willis Towers Watson’s Americas property/casualty sales and practice leader for insurance consulting and technology, said in the statement.

Misconceptions about welfare malign the poor: Letter

Misconceptions about welfare malign the poor: Letter

President Donald Trump has no problem limiting access to food stamps and housing benefits.
Popular misconceptions have proliferated about welfare that malign the victims of poverty.
Take the Supplemental Nutrition Program, formerly known as food stamps.
The average benefit per person is $1.50 per meal.
Most other government assistance programs provide only the barest minimum amount.
Fact is, they’re not eligible for any benefits except emergency Medicaid (severely injured or sick).
The majority pay taxes, including billions to Social Security tax benefits which they’ll never receive.
Myth: Welfare takers are lazy and deceptive.
Most people on welfare are hard workers like you and me, or they’re impoverished kids and elders or people with disabilities being helped to survive, not thrive.
It’s because more and more jobs are paying less and less, or are being eliminated due to automation, outsourcing, et al. Mike Kulla Poughkeepsie

Washington governor signs presumptive comp bill for nuclear site

Washington governor signs presumptive comp bill for nuclear site

Washington Gov.
Jay Inslee signed a bill Wednesday that would cover cancer and other illnesses under presumption for former workers of the decommissioned Hanford nuclear site in Hanford, Washington.
1723 addresses illnesses, including various cancers, suffered by workers of the 560-square-mile federally operated site, which has gone by several names since it opened in 1943.
Hanford is known for having manufactured the plutonium used in one of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan in 1945.
The bill establishes presumption under the state’s workers compensation laws for workers who suffer from heart problems, neurological diseases, respiratory illnesses and specific cancers, including leukemia, lung cancer, bone cancer, kidney cancer, lymphoma and other cancers affecting more than a dozen body parts, according to the latest draft.
However, the presumption of occupational disease “may be rebutted by clear and convincing evidence… (that) may include, but is not limited to, use of tobacco products, physical fitness and weight, lifestyle, hereditary factors, and exposure from other employment or nonemployment activities,” the law states.

Defense contractors allowed to proceed with suit against employer

Defense contractors allowed to proceed with suit against employer

Reprints Louise Esola Two former defense contract workers can proceed in part with their lawsuit against their employer, who allegedly terminated them after one filed and another assisted with a workers compensation claim, the U.S. District Appeals Court for the District of Columbia ruled Friday.
In 2010, David Sickle and Matthew Elliott were working in Baghdad, Iraq, for Falls Church, Virginia-based Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions L.L.C.
when Mr. Elliott, who assisted with a military base’s canine unit, injured his back while stacking sandbags, according to documents filed in David Sickle and Matthew W. Elliott v. Torres Advanced Enterprise Solutions L.L.C.
Mr. Sickle, a base medic, treated his colleague several times and urged him to seek treatment in the United States, which he eventually did.
Upon his arrival in the United States, Mr. Elliott filed a workers compensation claim and subsequently, with Mr. Sickle’s help, sought effective treatment for what the medic diagnosed as a herniated disc.
Mr. Elliott was fired one week before he was to return to the base in Iraq to fulfill his contract obligation with Torres.
This was outside of the contracted 30-day notice of termination, according to documents.
When he refused to recant his statements on Mr. Elliott’s injury, “(company founder) Scott Torres sent him home for thirty days to ‘think things over.’…When Sickle stuck to his guns, Torres Solutions terminated Sickle’s contract” outside of the contractual 30-day notice, court records state.
The Act, however, does not pre-empt (Mr.) Sickle’s claims or (Mr.) Elliott’s contract claim because those injuries arose independently of any claim for workers compensation benefits,” the ruling states.
A spokesperson for Torres declined to comment.

Salinas woman faces jail for lying to get $31k in welfare, food stamps

Salinas woman faces jail for lying to get $31k in welfare, food stamps

A Salinas woman who fraudulently received more than $31,000 in government aid pleaded guilty to felony charges.
Licila Castillo, 34, was receiving both cash aid and food stamps between Dec. 1, 2012 and June 1, 2016 while claiming that her children’s father was absent and she needed the benefits, according to the Monterey County District Attorney’s Office.
An investigation by the DA’s office and the Monterey County Department of Social Services found that the father actually had been living in her home and had a job, prosecutors say.
The family’s income should have made Castillo ineligible for benefits.
Castillo also misrepresented her household income on her eligibility status reports to social services, according to the DA’s office.
Castillo was overpaid $31,741, prosecutors say.
Castillo is scheduled to be sentenced on April 18, and she faces three years of formal felony probation and a year in jail.
She will also be ordered to pay back the overpayment of benefits directly to the Department of Social Services.