We start our global trek Down Under. To combat a rising tide of fraud against the National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS), the Australian Social Services Minister announced the creation of a specialized team of 100 anti-fraud officers this week. Federal reports suggest 500 allegations of criminal and fraudulent behavior against the country’s $8 billion fund. The NDIS is expected to grow to $22 billion by 2022. The taskforce aims to use big data to look for unusual transactions and clusters of transactions to detect fraud nationwide and protect the fund from organized crime.
Across the Tasman Sea and into the Ring of Fire, the New Zealand Earthquake Commission (EQC) announced a new research funding partnership with Massey University to study the impact of an earthquake threat to Auckland. The EQC recognizes that, if such an event were to occur, 435,000 people would need to be evacuated. Research will include disruption to industry and the methods necessary to transport people who have to leave their homes. The project is part of $1 million in new funding announced earlier this year. The EQC provides natural disaster insurance for residential property, administers the Natural Disaster Fund (NDF), and funds research and education on natural disasters and ways of reducing their impact.
Making for the trades (and the uphill run through Pepe'ete), lawmakers in the U.S. House of Representatives introduced the National Flood Insurance Program Extension and Enhanced Consumer and Community Protections Act of 2018. The House bill would also require communities to identify areas and facilities repeatedly damaged by floods, develop community-specific plans for mitigating continuing flood risks to such repetitively flooded areas, and extend the current program through November 30th. Last month, the U.S. Senate introduced a six-month extension for the NFIP. At present, the omnibus spending bill, which funds the federal government through the end of the fiscal year, will carry the NFIP through July 31. Pundits fear that the current expiration of the program hits right in middle of the Atlantic hurricane season, which officially ends on Nov. 30.
THE UNITED KINGDOM
And as we approach the prime meridian, the United Kingdom passed the Automated and Electric Vehicles Act, which includes new laws on introducing charging points at motorway services and giving motorists the same insurance policy for both conventional and self-driving vehicles. The measure is expected to pave the way for enhanced use autonomous cars in the U.K. in the coming years. Now scooters on the other hand, not so fast, my friend.
The California Workers' Compensation Institute announced its preliminary review of Utilization Review (UR) and Independent Medical Review (IMR) outcomes involving pharmaceutical requests since the inception of the state's formulary structure. The CWCI reports that the proportion of UR decisions involving prescription drug requests fell from 44.5 percent in the pre-formulary period to 40.7 percent in the first five months of 2018. Governor Jerry Brown signed Assembly Bill 1124 in 2016, which mandated the adoption of an evidence-based formulary for medications prescribed to California injured workers.
The Industrial Commission of Arizona (ICA) is holding a public hearing regarding reimbursement guidelines for physician-dispensed drugs. Earlier this year, Governor Doug Ducey signed SB 1111 directing the commission to consult with system users about the appropriate reimbursement rates for drugs doctors dispense from their office. The ICA hearing will be held on August 23rd. Interested stakeholders can participate in the proceedings or provide written comments.
Making Our Way Around the Country
Delaware Governor John Carney signed House Bill 408 into law, which now permits the First State's Industrial Accident Board to send hearing notices and decisions by email instead of certified mail. In related news, the Kansas Workers' Compensation Division (WCD) will debut and highlight its Online System for Claims Administration and Research/Regulation (OSCAR) at the Jayhawk State's Annual Workers Compensation Seminar next month in Overland Park.
GAME ON, LOUISIANA
The Louisiana Workforce Commission (LWC) began unannounced site inspections this week as part of a state-wide effort to combat the unethical business practice of misclassifying workers. The program is part of the state's multi-agency task force called, "Government Against Misclassified Employees Operational Network (GAME ON)." The effort includes the LWC, the Louisiana Department of Revenue, the U.S. Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division, and the Internal Revenue Service. Results from the unannounced inspections will be released later this year.
The U.S. Department of Labor announced new grant funding for the Women in Apprenticeship and Nontraditional Occupations (WANTO) program. The program aims to help recruit, train, and retain more women in quality pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs, and pursue careers in manufacturing, infrastructure, cybersecurity, and healthcare. The WANTO grant program will award at least $994,000 to community-based organizations to encourage women's employment in underrepresented occupations and pre-apprenticeship and apprenticeship programs. Grants will be awarded to up to six recipients.
Tomorrow is #NationalInternDay in the United States. We recognize and appreciate the hard work and dedication that summer interns bring to our organization and our industry. Keep up the great energy and enthusiasm! From all of us at #GBTheWay, have a great rest of your summer and finish strong at school. You are all on your @WayUp, and we can't wait to see what the future holds for you. Drop us a line when you get there.