Author Archives: Rod Rehm

Opioid Task Force, Recent Studies, and CDC Opioid Recommendations

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Today’s post comes from guest author Kristina Brown Thompson, from The Jernigan Law Firm. Nebraska is considering legislation to implement drug formularies to control opioid use among injured workers. I believe Nebraska should consider Massachusetts program of essentially having a workers compensation drug court to deal with opioid use.

The North Carolina Industrial Commission recently joined many other states (i.e. Massachusetts) in tackling the issue of opioids in the workers’ compensation cases by creating a Workers’ Compensation Opioid Task Force. The goal of the task force is to “study and recommend solutions for the problems arising from the intersection of the opioid epidemic and related issues in workers’ compensation claims.” According to the Chair, “[o]pioid misuse and addiction are a major public health crisis in this state.” 

As of last June, a study by the Workers’ Compensation Research Institute (WCRI) noted “noticeable decreases in the amount of opioids prescribed per workers’ compensation claim.” From 2012 – 2014, “the amount of opioids received by injured workers decreased.” In particular, there were “significant reductions in the range of 20 to 31 percent” in Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Oklahoma, North Carolina, and Texas. 

Additionally last March, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued new recommendations for prescribing opioid medications for chronic pain “in response to an epidemic of prescription opioid overdose, which CDC says has been fueled by a quadrupling of sales of opioids since 1999.” 

Currently, the CDC’s recommendations for prescribing opioids for chronic pain outside of active cancer, palliative, and end-of-life care will likely follow these steps:

1.  Non-medication therapy / non-opioid will be preferred for chronic pain.

2.  Before starting opioid therapy for chronic pain, clinicians should establish treatment goals and consider how therapy will be discontinued if benefits do not outweigh risks.

3.  Before starting and periodically during opioid therapy, clinicians should discuss with patients known risks and realistic benefits of opioid therapy. 

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in CDC, centers for disease control and prevention, chronic pain, Health, opioid, task force, work comp, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , , , , , .

2016 Top Ten Workers’ Compensation Fraud Cases

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Leonard JerniganWhat have you heard about fraud in workers’ compensation? Respected colleague Professor Leonard Jernigan presents his top 10 workers’ compensation fraud cases in today’s blog post. Professor Jernigan is from The Jernigan Law Firm in North Carolina and also serves as an Adjunct Professor of Workers’ Compensation Law at the N.C. Central University School of Law.

Adding in this year’s tally of cases to previous ones, the economic fraud of non-workers involved in the workers’ compensation system is dominant by a 77 non-workers’ fraud to 3 workers’ fraud margin, for the eight years total that Professor Jernigan has compiled the list. Be sure to think of this article the next time someone tells you about the need for workers’ compensation “reform” on the state level because of workers’ compensation fraud of employees – ask that person if they have any references for the alleged worker fraud – and feel free to use this blog post as a reminder that non-worker fraud is a much bigger issue in workers’ compensation systems.

It is unfortunate that this article is necessary, but I appreciate the important work Professor Jernigan does to compile these fraud cases each year. It makes for very interesting reading and reminds folks that fraud occurs on both sides of the workers’ compensation debate, though from a dollar amount, worker fraud is minimal compared to non-worker fraud.

Here are the links to previous years’ posts that have run on our firm’s blog, which were published in 2016, 2015, 2014, and 2013, so they include cases that were compiled regarding 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012, with the post below being 2016’s edition, to provide more historical context of this issue.

Here’s to a safe and productive 2017 for all.

Number Value
Non-Employee Fraud Cases 10 $ 412,000,000
Employee Fraud Cases 0 $ 0
Total $ 412,000,000

Four of the top ten cases in 2016 are from perennial offender California, three from Florida, one each from Massachusetts and Texas, and one involving 20 different states. The misclassification of employees by employers continues to create dramatic financial fraud, with resulting cost shifting, lost tax revenues and hardship to inured employees. As we noted last year, while the “gig economy” pioneered by technology companies has lead to debate about new classifications for workers, these companies remain subject to our laws. We are starting to see widespread litigation and settlements like Uber’s $100 million payment to disgruntled drivers in California and Massachusetts. We’ll keep tracking these new developments in the context of the misclassification and fraud actions that we’ve been tracking for many years.

  1. (National) FedEx to Settle Driver Lawsuits in 20 States for $240 Million (6/16/16)
    FedEx to Settle Driver Lawsuits in 20 States for $240
    FedEx Ground Systems, Inc. has agreed to pay $240 million to resolve claims by 12,000 FedEx drivers in 20 states. FedEx was labeling the drivers as independent contractors to avoid paying additional taxes, fringe benefits, health care costs, workers’ compensation insurance, and much more. The drivers were also not paid overtime or reimbursed for expenses.
  2. (California) Seven People Charged in $98 Million Workers’ Compensation Fraud Case (6/7/16)
    Seven in Riverside County charged with $98M medical fraud

    (Left): Payman Heidary Top row: Touba Pakdel Nabati, Jason Yang, Cary Abramowitz Bottom row: Quynam Nguyen, Ana Solis, Gladys Ross (Photo: Riverside County Sheriff’s Department)

    Seven people have been indicted with 107 felonies in a business scheme designed to commit workers’ compensation fraud. The ringleader, Peyman Heidary, owned or ran numerous businesses, including law firms and health clinics, and used other people to disguise his involvement and create an illegal ownership structure. The clinics were found to have inflated billings to insurance companies by exaggerating patient injuries and treatments. The businesses fraudulently billed more than $98 million to 18 insurance companies, resulting in the businesses receiving over $12.4 million in payments.

  3. (Texas) Labor Department “Mole” Helps Business Maintain $30 Million Workers’ Compensation Scam (6/28/16)
    Tshombe Anderson

    Tshombe Anderson

    Lydia Taylor worked at the U.S. Department of Labor in Dallas and used her position to give her family members information about federal workers’ compensation claims and warn them when suspicions arose about their fraudulent billing. Taylor’s uncle, Tshombe Anderson, was the ringleader of the group. Anderson and others formed several businesses that fraudulently billed the federal workers’ compensation program $30 million for unneeded and unrequested medical equipment for rehabilitation patients.

  4. (Florida) Fake Construction Company used to Process over $17.4 Million of Fraudulent Payroll (3/28/16) Orquidea Quezada set up Orquicely Construction LLC and used the company to process payroll for subcontractors who employed hundreds of people. In exchange for her services, Quezada kept a five percent fee. The scheme allowed the contractors to avoid paying payroll taxes, workers’ compensation insurance, and to conceal the employment of undocumented workers.
  5. (Florida) Fake Construction Company Used to Cash $7.4 Million in Undocumented Worker Payroll (7/7/16)
    Yamil Sanjurjo Cordero and Sandro Mendoza Alvarado

    Yamil Sanjurjo Cordero, 33, and Sandro Mendoza Alvarado, 35. (Sun Sentinel / Broward Sheriff’s Office Handout)

    Two men set up a shell company, Sunrise All Contractor Corp., to receive payments and cash checks for a fee on behalf of other companies that would then pay their undocumented workers. The scheme enabled employers to avoid workers’ compensation premiums and payroll taxes. These schemes are popular among employers of undocumented employees because these employees are less likely to blow the whistle on the fraud out of fear of exposing their undocumented status.

  6. (California) Insurance Company Agent Misappropriated $7.3 Million and Unable to Pay Workers’ Compensation Claims for California Indian Tribe (8/19/16) The operator of Management Resources Group California LLC, Gregory J. Chmielewski used more than $7.3 million from the company’s reserve accounts for his own personal investments. The company managed another company, Independent Management Resources, which sold workers’ compensation insurance to California Indian tribes. Chmielewski’s actions resulted in the company being unable to cover 117 claims.
  7. (California) Contractor Cheated Workers’ Compensation Insurer Out of More Than $5.4 million in Premiums(10/5/16) State of California Department of InsuranceMichael Harold Kreger, the owner of Michael Kreger Contracting was sentenced to 9 months in jail, 5 years of probation, 1500 hours of community service, and ordered to pay restitution of more than $5.4 million for underreporting his payroll and committing insurance fraud. Mr. Kreger cheated his company’s workers’ compensation insurer out of more than $5.4 million and his employees out of adequate protection for potential workplace injuries.
  8. (Massachusetts) Construction Companies Ordered to Pay $2.6 Million for Fraud in Misclassifying Workers (8/2/16) AB ConstructionForce Corporation, AB Construction Group, and employers Juliano Fernandes and Anderson Dos Santos were found by the U.S. Department of Labor to have misclassified the bulk of their employees to avoid paying overtime wages, workers compensation insurance, payroll taxes, and more. A consent judgment was entered requiring the companies and employers to pay more than $2.6 million in damages and penalties for their fraud.
  9. (California) Company Underreporting Payroll Defrauds Insurer of $2.1 Million (6/7/16)
    Alvin Shih Chen and Fiona Chen of Metro Worldwide, Inc.

    Alvin Shih Chen and Fiona Chen

    Co-owners Alvin Shih Chen and Fiona Chen of Metro Worldwide, Inc., a trucking company, underreported payroll by $4.7 million. The owners paid their truck drivers in cash to avoid reporting them to the insurer and to reduce their payroll obligation. While the company reported nearly $3 million in payroll to California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund, the actual payroll amount was $7.6 million. An estimated $2.1 million in premiums was lost.

  10. (Florida) Construction Company Defrauds Workers’ Compensation Insurer of $1.8 Million by Underreporting Payroll (4/6/16)
    Maira Chirinos, owner of Pompano Beach-based Tocoa Builders Inc.(Broward County Jail)

    Maira Chirinos, owner of Pompano Beach-based Tocoa Builders Inc.(Broward County Jail)

    Maira Chirinos, the owner of construction company Tocoa Builders, Inc. misrepresented information regarding the company’s operations, employees, and payroll when applying for a workers’ compensation policy. The misrepresentations enabled Chirinos to avoid paying at least $1.8 million in workers’ compensation premium payments. An investigation found Chrinos grossly underreported payroll to the insurance company. She reported a payroll of $76,000, but more than $11 million in payroll checks were cashed during the period covered by the policy.

For more information, contact: Leonard T. Jernigan, Jr. Adjunct Professor of Workers’ Compensation Law N.C. Central University School of Law The Jernigan Law Firm 3015 Glenwood Avenue, Suite 300 Raleigh, North Carolina 27612 (919) 833-0299 jes@jernlaw.com www.jernlaw.com Twitter: @jernlaw Blog: www.ncworkcompjournal.com

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Take Care, and Enjoy the Upcoming Holidays

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It’s the holiday season! Happy wishes are extended to you and yours, now and into the new year of 2017.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers will close at 4:30 p.m. Central on Thursday, Dec. 22, and remain closed on Friday, Dec. 23, and Monday, Dec. 26, for Christmas. We will open again on Tuesday, Dec. 27, at 8:30 a.m.

In addition, the offices will close at 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 29, and remain closed on Friday, Dec. 30, and Monday, Jan. 2, for New Year’s Day. We will open again on Tuesday, Jan. 3, at 8:30 a.m. Central.

Special thanks are extended to those who are working hard to keep all people safe and comfortable, often sacrificing those ideals themselves during this holiday time and the whole year. They are away from loved ones now and at other times of the year. These hard workers include truck drivers, first responders, nurses, retail workers and those in other occupations who can’t be with their loved ones because they are serving the public and keeping us safe.

We hope that this holiday season brings peace to so many who are hurting and hurt. May each of you have the opportunity to visit with loved ones who are held dear and take the time to appreciate those relationships with friends and family.

It is also hoped that we can be mindful through our joy and celebrations to reach out to those who are alone or sad but also respect those who want or need to be alone. And in this season of merriment, let’s appreciate our comfortable lives and good health and strive to help those who go without.

Be safe. As hard as it is to think about workplace tragedies and personal-injury accidents during the rest of the year, they are even sadder during the holiday season. Know that your loved ones need you, whether friends or family, and whether near or far.

We are thankful for so much, and at this time of reflection, we are especially thankful for family, friends, and the opportunity to advocate for clients who make our work worthwhile.

Take care traveling wherever you’re headed. Please take the time needed and use common sense to get to your destination safely. Safety at home and safe travels are wished for all your celebrations. It’s hoped that all know happiness this holiday season and throughout the coming year.

Regardless of your plans, take care and enjoy the holidays. Here’s hoping that 2017 is filled with all good things for all people, near and far.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Happy Thanksgiving! Wishing You and Yours a Safe Holiday

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Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours. The office of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, P.C., L.L.O. and Trucker Lawyers will close at 3:30 p.m. today. We will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 24, and Friday, Nov. 25, for the Thanksgiving holiday. We will open again on Monday, Nov. 28, at 8:30 a.m.

Whether traveling, working, cooking for loved ones, or playing a post-feast football game with those loved ones, please have a safe and enjoyable holiday. Special thanks go to the people (and the sacrifices that their loved ones make to share them) who will be busy taking care of others by working this Thanksgiving: first responders, health care workers, truck drivers, and those who have retail jobs at stores open on Thanksgiving or prepping for Black Friday. In addition, all of the businesses that choose to be closed for Thanksgiving are appreciated, as are companies that get their drivers home to be with loved ones for the holiday.

If you plan to do some shopping on Black Friday, please take note of this OSHA FactSheet resource regarding crowd management safety guidelines from the U.S. Labor Department.

We are thankful for so much. At this time of thanksgiving, we are especially thankful for family, friends, and the opportunity to advocate for clients who make our work worthwhile. Happy Thanksgiving!

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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Celebrate Kids’ Chance Awareness Week through Involvement

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kids-chance-of-nebraskaKids’ Chance Awareness Week is going on right now. Nebraska and 35 other states have organizations that provide postsecondary and trade-school scholarships to the children of workers who have been severely or fatally injured in a workplace accident.

As a founder of Kids’ Chance of Nebraska, along with Lincoln lawyer Dallas Jones, I am pleased to celebrate this week by announcing that five students have received scholarships this year through the nonprofit statewide organization. Two of the five students are repeat scholarship winners!

This excellent website tells the important stories of students nationwide who have benefited from scholarships, so I encourage you to take the time to click on the Faces of Kids’ Chance. Then, if so moved, feel free to support Kids’ Chance of Nebraska by attending the upcoming bowling event on Jan. 23, 2017, or donating funds to go toward scholarships through the KCNE website.

The employees at Rehm, Bennett & Moore and Trucker Lawyers will continue to support Kids’ Chance of Nebraska with our time and donations.

A major way that Kids’ Chance helps students is with the Planning for College Initiative. This program is designed to reach potential scholarship applicants, regardless of their age. We collect and maintain contact information for identified students and communicate with them when the time comes to start considering college. Awareness Week is pivotal in helping us identify these students. If you or someone you know is eligible for a Kids’ Chance scholarship, please visit Planning for College and submit a form.

We believe that investing in the educational future of children affected by a familial workplace injury will make a difference in their lives and subsequently help the lives of others. Although Kids’ Chance reaches hundreds of students each year across our 36 state organizations, we know that there are more students in need of assistance. Awareness Week will help us extend our reach and identify more students. We are all focused on this guiding principle: More money for more kids!

The mission of Kids’ Chance of Nebraska is to provide scholarships to children of workers who have been injured or killed on the job. Collectively, we have awarded 5,593 scholarships across the country, totaling over $16,592,000 in 36 states. For more information, please visit the Nebraska website at Kids Chance of Nebraska and the national website at Kids Chance of America

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in Firm News, Nebraska, Workers' Compensation and tagged , , , .

Top 10 OSHA Citations of 2016: A Starting Point for Workplace Safety

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Today’s blog post comes from the U.S. Labor Department’s blog at blog.dol.gov and was written by the director of enforcement programs at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The article below is a good big-picture reminder of workplace hazards that are documented “safety and health violations” through OSHA. There are some important quotes in the blog post, but instead of choosing a couple, you are encouraged to read and think about the entire relatively short article. A special focus should be to consider the top 10 citations list and see if you are exposed to any of these hazards at your job. Or if you’re in a position to influence others within the workplace, I would encourage you to make sure your co-workers know about whatever safety efforts you have in place to avoid and prevent at-work injuries so you don’t have your business’s citation on the list in the future.

If you have concerns about workplace safety at your job, OSHA’s website has a lot of informative resources. If you or a loved one have been hurt on the job, please contact an experienced workers’ compensation lawyer for advice and help.

a worker climbs a piece of scaffolding wearing proper fall protection
a worker climbs a piece of scaffolding wearing proper fall protection

Every October, the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration releases a preliminary list of the 10 most frequently cited safety and health violations for the fiscal year, compiled from nearly 32,000 inspections of workplaces by federal OSHA staff.

One remarkable thing about the list is that it rarely changes. Year after year, our inspectors see thousands of the same on-the-job hazards, any one of which could result in a fatality or severe injury.

More than 4,500 workers are killed on the job every year, and approximately 3 million are injured, despite the fact that by law, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their workers. If all employers simply corrected the top 10 hazards, we are confident the number of deaths, amputations and hospitalizations would drastically decline.

Consider this list a starting point for workplace safety:

  1. Fall protection
  2. Hazard communication
  3. Scaffolds
  4. Respiratory protection
  5. Lockout/tagout
  6. Powered industrial trucks
  7. Ladders
  8. Machine guarding
  9. Electrical wiring
  10. Electrical, general requirements

It’s no coincidence that falls are among the leading causes of worker deaths, particularly in construction, and our top 10 list features lack of fall protection as well as ladder and scaffold safety issues. We know how to protect workers from falls, and have an ongoing campaign to inform employers and workers about…

[Click here to see the rest of this post]

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

This entry was posted in OSHA, Workers' Compensation, Workplace Injury, Workplace Safety and tagged , , , , , .

Drinks, Dinners, Junkets and Jobs: How The Insurance Industry Courts State Commissioners

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shady-state-politicsToday’s blog post comes from Michael J. Mishak’s article in The Center for Public Integrity, which is located at publicintegrity.org.

The headline says a lot about the article. Though it’s a lengthy read, the article is worth the time it takes to digest it.

Nebraska and Iowa are the two states that we are most concerned with, as that’s where our lawyers are licensed to practice. In addition, these two states are important nationally because many insurance companies have their corporate headquarters in Nebraska and Iowa. I found it very illuminating that there are stories about both states regarding relationships and experiences that government officials who are insurance regulators have with insurance industry executives. Iowa also seems to be a mixed bag, with the same person asking for “more funding to buoy regulators” but at another time, splitting hairs on the state’s definition of lobbying.

I have written on how the “Workers’ Comp Industrial Complex” harms workers, which was based on an expose in ProPublica. It may be time for media coverage that looks into the overlap, favors and cozy ties that insurance companies have with the government regulators who are supposed to hold them accountable.

“The stakes are enormous,” Mishak writes in the CPI article.

“Because Congress has long left regulation of the insurance industry to the states, these little-known regulators, one per state, wield immense power over one of the largest segments of the U.S. economy. Charged chiefly with protecting consumers, commissioners review rate changes, investigate complaints and make sure insurers have enough money to pay claims.”

Consumers who rely on their insurance to protect them need to be able to trust that insurance commissioners with so much power and so little transparency will still have consumers’ best interests at heart, instead of prioritizing the interests of commissions’ friends in the insurance industry.


Who’s Calling the Shots in State Politics?

Drinks, dinners, junkets and jobs: how the insurance industry courts state commissioners

Center probe reveals cozy relationships, revolving doors and shady financial ties

By Michael J. Mishak

When the Arkansas insurance commissioner weighed the merits of a hospital’s billing complaint against United Healthcare, her interactions with one of the nation’s largest health insurers extended far beyond her department’s hearing room.

During months of deliberations, Commissioner Julie Benafield Bowman met repeatedly with United Healthcare lawyers and lobbyists over lunch and drinks at venues such as the Country Club of Little Rock.

“I had a blast with you Monday night,” Benafield emailed United Healthcare lawyer Bill Woodyard, himself a former state insurance commissioner. “Thank you so much for entertaining us.”

Commissioner Benafield ultimately decided the case in United Healthcare’s favor — a 2008 ruling that stood to save the company millions of dollars. Nearly two years later, by the time a judge vacated the commissioner’s orders because there was “an appearance of impropriety in the proceedings,” Benafield had moved on: She was working for United Healthcare, having joined at least three of her predecessors representing insurers in Arkansas.

Read more at The Center for Public Integrity.

The offices of Rehm, Bennett & Moore, which also sponsors the Trucker Lawyers website, are located in Lincoln and Omaha, Nebraska. Five attorneys represent plaintiffs in workers’ compensation, personal injury, employment and Social Security disability claims. The firm’s lawyers have combined experience of more than 95 years of practice representing injured workers and truck drivers in Nebraska, Iowa and other states with Nebraska and Iowa jurisdiction. The lawyers regularly represent hurt truck drivers and often sue Crete Carrier Corporation, K&B Trucking, Werner Enterprises, UPS, and FedEx. Lawyers in the firm hold licenses in Nebraska and Iowa and are active in groups such as the College of Workers’ Compensation Lawyers, Workers' Injury Law & Advocacy Group (WILG), American Association for Justice (AAJ), the Nebraska Association of Trial Attorneys (NATA), and the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). We have the knowledge, experience and toughness to win rightful compensation for people who have been injured or mistreated.

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