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Dollar General is opening 900 new stores next year
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Dollar General is opening 900 new stores next year

Dollar General is bucking the retail trend.
Dollar General has become a shopping staple across the country.
By the end of the year, more than three in four Americans will live within 5 miles of a Dollar General, the company noted on the call.
Dollar stores are one of the few retail groups that are thriving.
Many traditional brick-and-mortar retailers have been eclipsed by the growth of e-commerce.
Dollar General has succeeded thanks to its lean business model, said GlobalData Retail analyst Neil Saunders.
Its smaller stores sell cheap day-to-day essentials, especially in rural areas where it doesn’t make sense for Walmart or other large retailers to open up shop.
Sales were up 4.3% last quarter at stores that were open a year ago, a sign of retail health.
But lower-income Americans remain the store’s primary customers. “A reduction in social benefits, like food stamps, and an increase in healthcare or housing costs may continue to be a headwind for Dollar General’s customers,” said Morningstar’s John Bruck.

Aging Public Housing Development Gets Complete Overhaul After Superstorm Sandy
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Aging Public Housing Development Gets Complete Overhaul After Superstorm Sandy

There are 178,000 units of public housing in New York City.
Solar panels are being installed on the roofs of 20 of the buildings.
The New York City Housing Authority’s 1,395 units of public housing in Far Rockaway, Queens, N.Y., are under redevelopment through the Rental Assistance Demonstration and low-income housing tax credit programs after suffering devastating damage from Superstorm Sandy.
RDC Development will also provide jobs for the residents of the Ocean Bay Apartments, Far Rockaway and the greater NYCHA community.
The renovation is already benefitting the community.
Renovation plans include putting individual water and heating units on the roof of each building to ensure heat and water will be available during potential future storms.
“Ocean Bay Apartments is a great example of the value that the low-income housing tax credit can bring to community development,” said Moshe McKie-Krisberg, co-president of Richman Housing Resources.
“Given the size of the deal, our back-to-back loan product will generate a significant amount of savings for this project,” said Bissonette.
Citi was pleased to be a part of such an impactful development that is bringing its thousands of residents “renewed enthusiasm,” said Bissonette NYSHCR provided $213 million in tax-exempt bonds to the redevelopment of the Ocean Bay Apartments.
“Being able to rehabilitate all 1,395 apartments under one transaction demonstrates the impact of both the LIHTC and RAD programs,” said Charlie Rhuda, a partner in the Boston office at Novogradac & Company LLP.

Ohio House passes bill barring comp for undocumented workers
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Ohio House passes bill barring comp for undocumented workers

The Ohio House of Representatives on Tuesday passed legislation that would prohibit undocumented workers from collecting workers compensation benefits.
The bill, sponsored by Reps. Bill Seitz, R-Cincinnati, and Larry Householder, R-Glenford, passed on a largely party line 62-30 vote and will now head to the state’s Senate.
The bill states, “an illegal alien or unauthorized alien assumes the risk of incurring such injury or contracting an occupational disease, and that assumption is a complete bar to a recovery of damages for such injury or occupational disease.” Ohio House Minority Leader Fred Strahorn, D-Dayton, said in a statement that the bill would reward businesses that hire undocumented workers.
“Corporations that break the law and hire undocumented workers should have to take responsibility for workplace injuries — regardless of an employee’s immigration status,” Rep. Strahorn said in a statement.
“Under HB 380, employers who rig the system will get off scot-free and taxpayers will be left with the bill.” A similar bill failed to pass the Republican-controlled Senate earlier this year.

RAMPELL: Populism as a political force is dead
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RAMPELL: Populism as a political force is dead

This month marks 10 years since the Great Recession — and thereby the social movement it unleashed — was born.
The Occupy Movement demanded a pound of flesh from Wall Street, as well as an entirely new social contract.
Of course, the main reason these workers couldn’t get a job was that there weren’t enough jobs to be gotten.
Did they get the great economic de-rigging they demanded?
Instead, a week ago, the Trump administration began dismantling the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, a post-financial crisis creation designed specifically to protect the little guy from scam artists and swamp creatures.
And then, in the wee hours of Saturday morning, the Senate passed the most plutocratic, regressive, system-rigging piece of tax legislation in decades.
A bill that allows multimillionaires to pass on their estates tax-free.
The Republican tax plan is the most unpopular piece of major tax legislation in five decades, less popular even than the Bill Clinton and George H.W.
Republicans know how unpopular it is, and they just don’t care.
Populism, at least as a political force capable of extracting meaningful policy concessions, is truly, officially, undeniably dead.

Letters and feedback: Dec. 6, 2017
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Letters and feedback: Dec. 6, 2017

Changes in service a real waste I would like to give a special thanks to Waste Management for their lack of concern and thought in regard to yard debris pickup.
But to require customers (especially seniors) to cut up these large palm fronds and drag the awkward and top-heavy bucket to the curb, is nonsensical and results in no real efficiencies for the company.
William Alford, Palm Bay Laws won’t stick minus funding Regarding the Dec. 5 USA Today article titled “4,000 plus guns sold to disqualified buyers”, there are obviously some shortcomings that need to be addressed.
However, how many of these purchasers will be arrested?
ATF form 4473 (firearm transaction record) clearly states that falsifying information on the application is a felony under federal law.
There has been considerable research that finds very few of these criminals are arrested and prosecuted.
Historically the issue is the same — lack of resources.
What is the sense in making laws without the necessary funding to enforce them?
Last week Sen. Rubio voted for a bill that increases the deficit by trillions of dollars, cuts all deductions for the working poor and the middle class, while cutting assistance for veterans and disabled people to get jobs.
Then both will vote to cut Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security — confirmed by staffers and Rubio’s own words.

Closure rates, rising medical costs trouble comp claims managers
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Closure rates, rising medical costs trouble comp claims managers

More than 50% of workers comp claims officials report a growing claims inventory, finding that closing claims within the first year is becoming more difficult, according to the results of a survey released Monday.
Rising Medical Solutions, a Chicago-based national firm that provides medical cost containment and medical care management services to the workers compensation sector, surveyed 572 claims officials for its annual benchmarking study.
One of the key indicators of the health of the comp industry is the claims closure ratio, according to the report.
Twenty-four percent of respondents have an average closure ratio of 101% or greater within the first year of a claim, as experienced in 2016, and 58% report an average closure ratio of less than 100%, up from the 37% that reported a subpar claims closure rate in 2014, according to the report.
“These results indicate an overall decline in performance from the 2014 study, with more than 50% of participants reporting growing claims inventories,” the report states.
A closure ratio less than 100% means claim inventory is growing; a ratio greater than 100% means inventory is declining, according to the report.
The survey also found that fewer companies are engaging in self-assurance or auditing of best practices, with 59% in 2017 confirming that those programs remain intact, down from the 65% that reported having in place such programs aimed at improving claims outcomes.

2017 Women to Watch: Erica Fichter
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2017 Women to Watch: Erica Fichter

Senior vice president of medical management Broadspire Services Inc., a unit of Crawford & Co. Sunrise, Florida Age: 54 Erica Fichter relishes the diversity of her job, which she says offers new challenges each day.
“There is always a new concept out there from a clinical perspective,” said Ms. Fichter, who is senior vice president medical management at Broadspire Services Inc., the Atlanta-based third-party administrator unit of Crawford & Co. “And I like working with new products and asking, ‘How do we integrate these new models?’ Each day is a different day.
She said having a good team has helped her navigate new landscapes.
“We are always pulling together; everybody takes the time to listen to each other to work through situations,” she said.
I like to step back, I take a deep breath and start doing the research.
Why did this occur?
What can we do to make it better?” Problem-solving is her niche, she said.
“I don’t do anything until I know everything that happened,” she said.
“She’s a dynamic lady; a great executive to work with,” said Bob Smith, Tampa-based chief executive officer for Priority Care Solutions, a national network provider of ancillary services such as equipment and diagnostics.
“She’s very supportive,” he added.

2017 Women to Watch: Debra Livingston
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2017 Women to Watch: Debra Livingston

That’s why she and her partner combined the two concepts to create a program that has provided nonprofit organizations with 4.5 million hours of volunteer work performed by workers who might otherwise be home.
For example, a truck driver who was in an accident and isn’t well enough to drive can get out of the house by volunteering, with his company — which benefits from the worker’s improved state of mind, among other pluses — paying him to volunteer.
Launched in 2007, the program Transition2Work grew out of Ms. Livingston’s background in workers compensation case management.
In 2003, she co-founded ReEmployAbility Inc. with Frances Ford, who also spent her career in claims for injured workers.
ReEmployAbility also provides other return-to-work services, such as overseeing modified duty arrangements.
“Because we came from the claims environment, we recognized that the way the industry thought about (return to work) was wrong, and we wanted to change the way the industry considered return to work with having compassion for the worker,” she said.
“It made such sense that you would work within your community with organizations that are there to help others while you are helping yourself (get better).” Ms. Livingston oversees the company’s financial planning, accounting systems, and procurement of goods, equipment and insurance products, and provides oversight of its information technology infrastructure and data management practices.
She started her insurance career as a claims adjuster for Aetna Inc.’s former property/casualty operations.
Later, she became a broker consultant for Wells Fargo Insurance Services USA Inc. She has served on the board of directors for the Association of Workers’ Compensation Claims Professionals for many years, and was president of the group for six years.
Jim Greer, Tampa-based President of AE21 Inc., an insurance consulting firm, has known Ms. Livingston since 1992 and was a friend when the idea for ReEmployAbility emerged.

2017 Women to Watch: Pamela M. Anthony
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2017 Women to Watch: Pamela M. Anthony

Reprints Louise Esola Pamela M. Anthony President and CEO Restore Rehabilitation L.L.C.
Owings Mills, Maryland Age: 49 Pamela M. Anthony started Restore Rehabilitation L.L.C.
The bank didn’t think a boutique business that guides more personal care for injured workers would pan out, she said.
Eleven years and a lot of work took the venture from two employees in the basement to 215 employees with two floors and 9,800 square feet of office space in Owings Mills, Maryland.
“It was scary, but I knew it would work,” Ms. Anthony said of her leap from being a nurse case manager for other companies to setting up her own case management company serving the workers compensation sector.
Case management allows her to use her medical and business skills, but she and her team also work to win the trust of injured workers so they are seen as advocates for the patients.
And Restore Rehabilitation L.L.C.
is among the best, said Oscar Burgos, Pasadena, California-based senior vice president and national claims manager for Old Republic Contractors Insurance Group Inc. “This may sound trite, but quite simply she’s a caring, business-savvy professional dedicated to the craft of medical management — not medical cost containment, but medical management,” he said.
“Doing right by the injured worker is what (her business) does best.” Ms. Anthony said Restore Rehabilitation is successful because it focuses on one aspect of workers compensation.
“I don’t think you can do everything and do it well, so pick something you like and do it really well,” she said.

Medicare settlements feature lifetime opioid guarantees
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Medicare settlements feature lifetime opioid guarantees

Reprints Louise Esola Researchers in California were the first to find that most Medicare set-aside settlements in the state include money for opioids, but experts say the problem is a national issue, taking injured workers on opioids out of the comp system and onto a lifetime guarantee of paid opioids.
“I start to think we are making progress and we are getting somewhere and opioid use in comp is down, and then you come across something like this,” said Alex Swedlow, president of the Oakland-based California Workers’ Compensation Institute, which conducted a study that found 70% of federally mandated and approved California workers compensation Medicare set-aside settlements for injured workers include money earmarked for decades of opioid use.
“We have no reason to believe this problem is any different in any other state,” said co-researcher David Deitz, a physician and managed care consultant who runs his own consulting firm David Deitz & Associates L.L.C.
based in Westport, Massachusetts.
Medicare set-asides are insurer-paid plans in which claims administrators allocate funds from workers comp settlements to cover future medical expenses arising from a work injury that might otherwise be paid by the federal Medicare program.
“It’s a confirmation of what we believe has existed,” said Rita Wilson, CEO and co-founder of Delray Beach, Florida-based Tower MSA Partners L.L.C., which helps insurers and employers remain Medicare-compliant and began tackling the opioids in Medicare set-asides in mid-2015.
This is unlike the typical workers comp scenario, where injured workers can rely on nurse case managers, pharmacy benefits managers, insurers, self-insured employers and others to guide the injured workers off the dangerous doses — a trend in comp spurred by regulations and treatment guidelines that now say chronic pain is not relieved by powerful pain medications.
Medicare set-asides, and the prescriptions they guarantee, are the responsibility of the injured workers and their treating physicians, said Michael Merlino, a Buffalo, New York-based attorney and senior vice president for Medicare compliance for Sedgwick Claims Management Services Inc.
In a statement provided to Business Insurance, the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services officials say the money it approves for the set-aside is part of a formula.
“CMS is approving (Medicare set-asides) with decades of opioid use … I think that has people concerned,” said Mr. Merlino.