Countdown to NWCDC 2012

Medicare Set-Aside Blog on November 1, 2012
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As I make final preparations to attend the National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference next week, I wanted to share some thoughts with our readers attending this year. I’ve been to this rodeo more than once and have recognized some changes this year that will likely improve your experience. It is a big event and navigating it is half the battle.

1. National Scope – There are over a thousand attendees representing all 50 states and DC as well as Canada, England and China registered to attend, so clearly there is something for everyone at this event. The attendees represent the full gamut the industry has to offer, from the largest to the smallest regional carriers and TPAs to self-insured employers and attorney firms of all sizes. 30% of registered attendees represent employers this year, and given that all of the best ways to prevent claims and control costs starts there, their participation is significant in combating the many issues to be discussed next week. Take this opportunity to learn from this wide array of attendees as well as share your experiences with them to help improve this industry as a whole. Don’t be shy – this is why we go every year.

2. Partnership with LexisNexis – Despite loyalties to the publisher of The Complete Guide to Medicare Secondary Payer Compliance, the reason that I bring this to your attention as a conference improvement is because the purpose of developing this relationship was to enhance the Solving Legal/Regulatory Issues program track. These sessions were developed to help attendees with things such as avoiding costly legal blunders and learning new approaches for new challenges. They were not designed just for attorneys but for attendees at all levels of the claims process. There are at least 15 members of the Larson’s National Workers’ Compensation Advisory Board speaking at this event so you know the content was developed by some of the most respected comp attorneys throughout the nation. And if you do find the legal content improved this year, please don’t forget to stop by Booth #1160 to thank LexisNexis for their participation.

3. Mobile App – Last year the conference introduced attendee participation though the use of smart phones. People were able to respond to surveys and submit questions via text message and Twitter. This year they have released an app. The app isn’t just for use during the sessions, it is a complete trip assistant. Not only do you have the complete conference program and map on hand at all times, but the app will manage your entire itinerary if you let it. If you find a session you’d like to attend, you can select it and it will put the session on your conference calendar. If you don’t like the session you are attending, it will tell you what other sessions are near by. You can access speaker profiles and find which sessions they are participating as well. You can take notes within each session description and email them to yourself later. You can locate vendors in the exhibit hall (someone should recommend the ability to tweet their swag for next year) and exchange contact information. And if by some chance you haven’t reserved a hotel room by now, the app can handle that for you as well. It’s amazing what we can do with our phones these days. So download the app this weekend so you can start filling your calendar and be ready to use it as soon as you get there.

4. Networking Opportunities – While the sessions are by far the most valuable part of the conference, I can honestly say that I’ve never returned home without a few new friends. There are new clients to win over and new industry contacts to be made, and this year the conference has provided us with several events to enhance that part of our experience. For the first time, there is a kick-off social on Tuesday from 5:30 to 6:30 pm following the opioids solutions track. The reception is sponsored by Safety National, Best Doctors and Progressive Medical and supported by our friends at CompPartners so be sure to thank them for this new event. On Wednesday, a reception is held in the expo hall from 3:45 to 5:00 pm and on Thursday the closing social is from 4:15 to 5:30 pm, also in the expo hall. Heard there will be good beer to enjoy while you load up on vendor swag, so don’t miss it.

5. My Must See Sessions – While everyone will have their own interests, many of my session selections are driven by the speakers. I attend at least two conferences a month, so I’ve seen most of these people speak in the past, and they deliver every time. Anyone in this industry could stand to learn a little more outside their focus, so if there is an uncommitted time slot in your itinerary, consider these:

Legal Triage (LR1 – Wed. 10:45-12:00 – LVCC N258–N260) – Becky Schafer always delivers great tips to reduce your work comp costs. This session focuses on early case management & investigation issues that decrease overall expenses.

Building a Better Medical Network (HM3 – Wed. Nov.2:30-3:45 – LVCC N257) – One of the biggest problems in WC is the fee-for–service model, where physicians are rewarded for prolonging care. In states where it is permissible to build a medical network, employers are finding that focusing on medical care rather than cost is beneficial in the long run. Anita Weir from Safeway is on the panel and, as one of its vendors, we can attest to Safeway’s forward thinking and success overall in reducing many of its work comp costs on the medical side. Also, note that the panel is moderated by Mark Walls, so get there early to get a seat. He’s got groupies at this conference.

Medical Treatment Issues: A Comparison of Jurisdictional Differences (LR3 – Wed. 2:30-3:45 – LVCC N252) – It is always interesting to see how our neighbors handle similar issues, so this panel provides perspectives from Bob Rassp in California to Cassandra Roberts in Delaware and several states in between. It will compare jurisdictional statutes and regulations and provide tips for avoiding unintended consequences.

The Insurer’s View: Developing a Narcotics Management Program (OS7 – Fri. 9:00-10:15 – LVCC N252) – The biggest, mostly costly problem in work comp and it draws the Friday morning slot. But if you happen to still be in town and capable of attending (no judgement), this session should be interesting. Accident Fund is an impressive organization in taking control of costly issues, so a peek into its narcotic management program should prove insightful. Furthermore, Prium addresses the problem by facilitating contact with the physicians to try to implement changes from their side. It should be worthwhile just to hear what kind of successes they are seeing.

Front and Center: Bloggers Speak (CM7 – Thurs. 3:00-4:15 – LVCC N258-260) – This one will be the most informative while at the same time be the most entertaining. All five panelists cover workers’ compensation issues nationally, giving them the ability to compare the best and worst that systems throughout the country have to offer. With all of the attempted reform we have seen recently, there’s a lot to talk about. But what will prove interesting will be the way the panelists interact with one another. Mild mannered Becky and Peter don’t stand a chance against outspoken Dave and Bob, and Joe could go either way but is likely to get provoked given this is taking place during election week. Mark Walls is moderating and rumored to be considering lion tamer attire. A session not to be missed.

And of course I will be at:

The Economics of Medicare Set-Asides (LR4 – Thurs. 8:45-10:00 – LVCC N254-256) – This is the first time in conference history that something other than MSA 101 has been offered, and I hope to demonstrate that the MSA costs endured during the past decade were not necessarily the best means for addressing the issue. With me will be a carrier presenting actual costs and how their various MSP decisions affected them. The take away is the consideration of alternative means of achieving MSP compliance or if it is determined that continued conformance with CMS programs is desirable, to be able to better identify and control those costs.

6. Exhibition Hall – There are 260 exhibitors so surely something addressing a need of every attendee can be found in there. Unlike RIMS where the good swag is fairly consistent from year to year, vendors at this conference aren’t that predictable so you’re going to have to walk the hall and find your own treasures. Drawings are currently favoring the iPad so don’t forget to bring an extra pile of business cards to throw in all those fishbowls so as not to have to write your information every time. There are a few parties open to attendees who obtain invitations in the expo hall on a first come basis, so be on the lookout as these are very nice events. Prime usually holds a great party at the Tryst if you don’t already have plans on Wednesday night and can score a wrist band in time. And please stop by and see us in Booth # 841 to get a shiny, Vegas-appropriate gold bag to carry all your goodies in (and if you catch me there, I let you in on the good swag whereabouts so you don’t miss out).

7. NWCDC Group on LinkedIn – If you don’t already belong, join this subgroup of the WorkCompAnalysis Group to get updates about the conference. There are 2,800 members currently posting and tweeting their thoughts and plans for the conference. This is a great additional resource to learn about what’s going on and what shouldn’t be missed. You can also follow the conference on Twitter at @wcconf.

Well, I hope this information proves to be helpful. I will try to post updates from the conference as soon as I can to share all the valuable information gained with those not attending. For those who are, please stop by the booth (#841) or my session (LR4) on Thursday morning and say hi and have a great time. Safe travels to all.

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