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Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issues WCMSA Reference Guide

CMS has issued its first ever WCMSA Reference Guide.

At the beginning of this 88-page guide, CMS states that the guide was written to "... help you understand CMS' Workers' Compensation Medicare Set-Aside Arrangement amount approval process and to serve as a reference for those electing to submit such proposals to CMS for approval."

The guide is a compilation of previously issued WCMSA Regional Office Memorandums, and information provided on the CMS WCMSA website.

Workers' Compensation apps

With apps proliferating in all aspects of our business and personal life, Workers' Compensation is no exception. Here is a helpful post by Michael Allen Mobile health - 40 "apps" for your Workers' Comp team. He lists a variety of apps ranging from medical guidelines, claims, medication management, physical therapy, patient education, and health, wellness and comorbidity management.

Cost of drugs for Workers' Compensation up in 2012

The cost of drugs commonly prescribed for Workers' Compensation claimants, including narcotic pain relievers, rose during 2012, reports by pharmacy benefit managers show.

Opioids, accounted for the highest overall per-user-per-year cost among pharmaceuticals prescribed for injured workers. There has been some progress in reducing opioid prescription use per claim as a result of changing prescribing patterns in response to federal and state guidelines, increased use of prescription drug-monitoring programs, and more urine drug testing for compliance.

Some pharmacy benefit managers report that "Dermatological agents" or medications applied to the skin for local relief of muscle strains, sprains and inflammation have become one of the top five drug types consumed by injured workers.

Express Script's report also shows that the per-user-per-year spending for antidepressants rose 11.1% last year, reflecting an average prescription cost increase of 9.1%, coupled with a 2.3% increase in utilization.

FMCSA shuts down Atlanta-based trucking company

The U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) shut down Atlanta-based trucking company Southern Transportation, Inc. using new authorities given to FMCSA under the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21).

Southern Transportation stopped cooperating with FMCSA safety investigators and failed to provide copies of company safety records. Under provisions contained in MAP-21, signed into law in July 2012, FMCSA may place a motor carrier out of service if it fails to comply with a letter demanding release of company safety records.

FMCSA also declared General Transportation, Inc., a trucking company operating out of the same location and with the same business model as Southern Transportation, to be an imminent hazard to safety, shutting down the company.

A copy of the imminent hazard out-of-service order can be viewed at:

Free Wellness videos

The National Institute of Health has created a series of wellness videos. To learn more, go to

Study: Most people return to work after knee replacement surgery

In results that surprised even orthopedic surgeons, a new study finds that most people return to work after a total knee replacement - even those with physically demanding jobs.

The research, presented at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) in Chicago, shows that 98 percent of people who undergo total knee replacements are able to go back to work afterward - 89 percent to the same type of work they performed prior to the surgery. Approximately 700 patients from 18 to 60 years old who had knee replacements at one of five different health care facilities were questioned for the survey. Their work ranged from sedentary (desk-type work) to highly physical labor.

Ninety-seven percent were able to return to very heavy work, and 98 percent went back to heavy work. Ninety-five percent headed back to sedentary jobs, 91 percent returned to light jobs and 100 percent returned to medium-intensity work. Men were significantly more likely than women to return to work, the study found.

New toolbox talks address construction falls

Oregon Health & Science University recently released a series of toolbox talks on preventing construction falls.

Topics include a 7-foot scaffold fall, roofing materials crushing a worker, a fall down an elevator shaft, and a load of lumber shifting and falling on a worker.

Study identifies healthy habits that reduce disease risk

Adhering to seven lifestyle recommendations may significantly reduce one's risk of dying from diseases such as cancer and circulatory disease, concludes a study from the American Institute for Cancer Research.

Researchers tracked the diets and disease rates of 380,000 people for 13 years. Participants who followed all of AICR's recommendations were 34 percent less likely to die from diseases.

Among the recommendations, maintaining a healthy weight and eating a plant-based diet were associated with the largest reduction in death risk - 22 and 21 percent, respectively.

Other recommendations include:

The study was published March 27 in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.