Report: California Workers’ Comp Medical Payment Trends Fell in 2018

Medical payments in California’s workers’ compensation system continued to decline in 2018 as the medical payments per claim decreased, according to a report from the Workers’ Compensation Insurance Rating Bureau of California.

The WCIRB released its California Workers’ Compensation Aggregate Medical Payment Trends report comparing medical payment information from 2016 to 2018.

Report Examines First-Year Impact of California’s New Drug Formulary

A new report shows that an evidence-based drug formulary put into effect by the California Division of Workers’ Compensation’s over a year ago may be working.

The formulary went into effect Jan. 1, 2018. It was intended to: reduce frictional costs in the workers’ compensation system; restrict inappropriate prescribing, especially those that relate to opioids; and ensure that injured workers receive medically necessary medications in a timely manner.

9 Missing, 25 Dead in Southern California Dive Boat Fire

Divers and search crews were still looking Tuesday for nine missing people after at least 25 were confirmed dead when a boat packed with scuba divers caught fire near an island off the Southern California coast.

The dive-boat Conception became engulfed in flames before dawn as the passengers on a recreational scuba diving trip slept below deck.

California Earthquake Authority Policy Sales Spiked After Ridgecrest Quakes

The California Earthquake Authority gained 23,861 earthquake insurance policies following the magnitude 6.4 and 7.1 earthquakes and aftershocks that struck on unnamed faults near Ridgecrest beginning on the July 4 holiday.

That’s the second-largest monthly net increase in the 23-year history of the CEA, a not-for-profit, privately funded, publicly managed organization.

California State Fund Declares $105M Dividend for Workers’ Comp Policyholders

The board of California’s State Compensation Insurance Fund announced plans to distribute a $105 million dividend to qualifying policyholders with policies that took effect between Jan. 1 and Aug. 19.

This dividend equals roughly 15% of the estimated annual premium reported in State Fund’s mid-year 2019 financial statement and averages out to roughly $1,400 per employer.

PG&E Shut-offs Could be Catastrophic, California Officials Say

(TNS) - Northern California communities hit by some of the worst wildfires the state has ever seen are now preparing for another kind of disaster: prolonged power shut-offs caused intentionally by Pacific Gas and Electric Co.

PG&E has used its aggressive new strategy to prevent its equipment from starting another fire only on one weekend so far this year. But the utility is poised to turn off the lights much more in the coming months as hot, dry and windy weather persists during the most dangerous part of wildfire season.

The impacts may be extreme and unprecedented, cutting entire cities off from the electric grid for several days in the worst-case scenarios. In those instances, stoplights and even cell phones could stop working properly, local officials say, snarling traffic and hamstringing residents’ ability to communicate.

Santa Cruz, Calif., Residents Urged to Be ‘Firewise’

(TNS) — After five years of drought, Santa Cruzans became familiar with ways to make their lawns “water wise.”

Now, city public safety officials are hoping to make residents “firewise,” as well.

Santa Cruz Fire Department officials on Wednesday recognized volunteers from the Prospect Heights neighborhood for their efforts to earn Santa Cruz County’s first National Fire Protection Association certification for a Firewise USA program participant.

Grim Choices as California Disappears Under Sea Level Rise

(TNS) — The California coast grew and prospered during a remarkable moment in history when the sea was at its tamest.

But the mighty Pacific, unbeknownst to all, was nearing its final years of a calm but unusual cycle that had lulled dreaming settlers into a false sense of endless summer.

Elsewhere, Miami has been drowning, Louisiana shrinking, North Carolina’s beaches disappearing like a time lapse with no ending. While other regions grappled with destructive waves and rising seas, the West Coast for decades was spared by a rare confluence of favorable winds and cooler water. This “sea level rise suppression,” as scientists call it, went largely undetected. Blinded from the consequences of a warming planet, Californians kept building right to the water’s edge.

Artificial Intelligence Helps to Contain Wildfires, Predict Wild Weather

On a tower in the Brazilian rainforest, a sentinel scans the horizon for the first signs of fire.

Only these eyes aren’t human. They don’t blink or take breaks, and guided by artificial intelligence they can tell the difference between a dust cloud, an insect swarm and a plume of smoke that demands quick attention. In Brazil, the devices help keep mining giant Vale SA working, and protect trees for pulp and paper producer Suzano SA.

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