2015 NWCDC Preview

Guidance for the Perplexed

This year’s workers’ compensation conference helps make sense of a shifting regulatory environment and an increasing array of vendors and solutions. 
By: | October 15, 2015 • 7 min read

The task of helping injured workers recover and managing their workers’ compensation and disability claims is growing increasingly complex.

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Rising medical costs amid a shifting health care-delivery system present one set of challenges. The poor overall health of the nation’s workforce and regulations such as the amended Americans with Disabilities Act are additional forces complicating matters.

That is why delivering proven strategies for tackling the issues facing employers and other claims payers has become such a priority.

Scheduled for Nov. 11-13 at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, the 24th Annual National Workers’ Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo will provide opportunities to meet with industry leaders and hear directly from peers providing practical solutions for medical, legal and claims-management issues, among other topics.

While Las Vegas offers up swank restaurants and clubs for evening relaxation, conference breakout sessions promise serious information and tactics for improving injured worker health, enhancing workers’ comp program performance and boosting an employer’s bottom line.

For example, Patti Colwell, Southwest Airlines’ workers’ comp program manager, will discuss a quality-assurance strategy for selecting service providers and determining whether they are delivering on their service promises.

The presentation is part of the conference’s Program Management track, developed to help employers and others eliminate injuries, improve operational performance, support injured worker health and speed return-to-work outcomes.

The track will include a session on applying data analytics and predictive modeling that can improve the focus of claims management and risk assessment — but only if applied properly.

It makes sense to learn about properly applying predictive modeling tools from colleagues who have gained practical knowledge by actually using the tools. So, Tim Starks, director of casualty at Georgia-Pacific, joins Frank Murray, SVP of claims at ESIS, to share lessons the employer gleaned from applying predictive analytic solutions.

Medical Management

Medical management is another shifting factor in claims management, on top of its increasing cost. The conference’s Medical Management track will provide up-to-date information on the topic.

A panel of the foremost medical directors in workers’ comp will speak about optimally applying medical intervention’s power, and the harm done when that doesn’t happen.

Adam L. Seidner of Travelers Insurance, along with Marcos Iglesias of The Hartford, will discuss how the Affordable Care Act will make smart medical-intervention strategies even more crucial. They’ll be joined by Mel Belsky, medical director of the workers’ comp program at Albertsons Safeway Inc.

Denise Zoe Algire, director of managed care and disability corporate risk management at Albertsons Safeway, will moderate the panel.

The Medical Management track will also include Lisa Kelly, senior workers’ compensation manager at Boeing, who will share results obtained from the employer’s outcomes-based provider network and Boeing’s efforts to select quality care doctors.

Kimberly George, SVP, senior healthcare advisor at Sedgwick, and Greg Moore, president and CEO at Harbor Health Systems, will join Kelly to explain Boeing’s preparations for the coming changes in the delivery of health care to injured workers, including emerging care models like accountable care organizations and value-based pricing.

Disability Management

Breakout sessions for this year’s conference were also crafted with a sharper focus on disability management.

Dave Taylor, director of integrated disability management at Reyes Holdings, will explain how his company applied integrated absence management to solve disability and productivity challenges.

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Renee Mattaliano, VP and practice lead of workforce management at HUB International, will join Taylor to detail how Reyes, a beer and food distributor, marshalled the necessary investment, data, vendors, corporate health resources and internal talent required to succeed at integrated absence management.

The breakout session is part of the conference’s Disability Management track highlighting strategies for mitigating drivers of employee illness and absence, whether occupational or non-occupational.

Addressing the challenges of administering disability, workers’ comp and leave laws will be discussed during “Best Practices in Leave Management and ADA Administration,” a session led by Terri L. Rhodes, CEO for the Disability Management Employer Coalition, and Karen English, a partner at Spring Consulting Group LLC.

Claims Management

The conference’s Claims Management track promises practical information on today’s tools for mitigating claims issues.

Stephanie Perilli, senior director of medical & health management at The Home Depot, will share her experience on leveraging data to determine when injured workers benefit from nurse case manager care.

Mary O’Donoghue, VP of medical services at Helmsman Management Services, a unit of Liberty Mutual, will team up with Perilli to discuss the art of evaluating the value of data.

Legal and Regulatory

The conference’s Legal/Regulatory track will offer the opportunity to hear opposing views on current legislative efforts to allow employers to opt out of workers’ comp systems across more states.

Trey Gillespie, senior workers’ comp director at the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, will argue the value of existing workers’ compensation and disability programs, while Bill Minick, president at PartnerSource, will explain proponents’ goals during a breakout moderated by Dan Reynolds, editor-in-chief at Risk & Insurance®.

The Legal/Regulatory track will also feature a session titled “Extreme Violence in the Workplace: Causation, Mental Trauma and Prevention.” Albert B. Randall Jr., a trial attorney at Franklin & Prokopik, and Lori A. Severson, senior loss control consultant at Lockton Cos., will examine violence prevention and incident response.

Below is a synopsis of some of the other sessions at this year’s event. The entire agenda can be found online.

Arthur M. Southam M.D., executive VP, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals

Arthur M. Southam M.D., executive VP, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals

Opening Keynote: Achieving Excellence in Medical Treatment

What to expect: Providing injured workers quality health care is increasingly crucial for improved claims outcomes. But how to obtain true quality care remains a challenge. Dr. Arthur Southam will share lessons learned from group health and explain how Kaiser has successfully driven measured improvements in care quality among its 9.6 million members.

Who: Arthur M. Southam M.D., executive VP, health plan operations for Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals.

Session: Walmart’s Campaign to Manage Prescription Drug Misuse

What to Expect: After Walmart identified and mitigated legacy claims impacted by high-dose morphine prescriptions, it developed a data-driven strategy to prevent prescribing of harmful pharmaceuticals among new claims. Hear how those lessons can be applied by working with your pharmacy benefit manager.

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Who: Mark Pew, SVP, PRIUM; Janice Van Allen, director of workers’ compensation, Walmart Stores Inc.

Session: Managing Risks and Claims in the Age of Legalized Marijuana

What to Expect: Clinical and legal experts will discuss shifts in workplace policies, claims management standards and service-provider guidelines that claims payers must learn about to prepare for changing marijuana-use laws.

Who: Markie Davis, director, risk management, State of Colorado; Kevin Glennon, VP, clinical education & quality assurance programs, One Call Care Management; Gregory J. McKenna, VP & counsel, Gallagher Bassett Services; moderator: Denise Algire, director, managed care and disability corporate risk management, Albertsons Safeway.

Session: PG&E Puts Telephonic Injury Assistance in Employee Hands

What to Expect: Shorter injury durations and fewer workers’ comp claims became long-term disabilities when Pacific Gas and Electric Co. changed its culture and implemented a 24/7 telephonic injury management program providing injured employees contact with occupational health nurses and physicians.

Who: Bryon Bass, director, integrated disability management, Pacific Gas & Electric Co.; Dr. Peter P. Greaney, CEO and medical director, WorkCare Inc.

Session: Proven Workers’ Comp Claims Management Strategies That Get Results

What to Expect: Approaches for analyzing claim portfolios and improving claim reviews along with lessons for effectively collaborating with insurers and third-party administrators are on tap as a senior risk analyst shares program-management practices that produced results for her employer and can help companies of any size.

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Who: Stephanie Tutt, corporate senior risk analyst, Computer Sciences Corp.

Session: Employee Focused Program — What Does It Mean and Will It Work?

What to Expect: Engaging employees for the best claims outcomes requires making them the focus of your program even before an injury occurs. This session will offer practical tips for keeping the injured employee at the forefront of your program’s efforts.

Who: Drake Rogers, attorney, Young Clement Rivers; Bill Wainscott, manager, workers’ comp and occupational health, International Paper.

Roberto Ceniceros is senior editor at Risk & Insurance® and chair of the National Workers' Compensation and Disability Conference® & Expo. He can be reached at [email protected] Read more of his columns and features.

More from Risk & Insurance

More from Risk & Insurance

Exclusive | Hank Greenberg on China Trade, Starr’s Rapid Growth and 100th, Spitzer, Schneiderman and More

In a robust and frank conversation, the insurance legend provides unique insights into global trade, his past battles and what the future holds for the industry and his company.
By: | October 12, 2018 • 12 min read

In 1960, Maurice “Hank” Greenberg was hired as a vice president of C.V. Starr & Co. At age 35, he had already accomplished a great deal.

He served his country as part of the Allied Forces that stormed the beaches at Normandy and liberated the Nazi death camps. He fought again during the Korean War, earning a Bronze Star. He held a law degree from New York Law School.

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Now he was ready to make his mark on the business world.

Even C.V. Starr himself — who hired Mr. Greenberg and later hand-picked him as the successor to the company he founded in Shanghai in 1919 — could not have imagined what a mark it would be.

Mr. Greenberg began to build AIG as a Starr subsidiary, then in 1969, he took it public. The company would, at its peak, achieve a market cap of some $180 billion and cement its place as the largest insurance and financial services company in history.

This month, Mr. Greenberg travels to China to celebrate the 100th anniversary of C.V. Starr & Co. That visit occurs at a prickly time in U.S.-Sino relations, as the Trump administration levies tariffs on hundreds of billions of dollars in Chinese goods and China retaliates.

In September, Risk & Insurance® sat down with Mr. Greenberg in his Park Avenue office to hear his thoughts on the centennial of C.V. Starr, the dynamics of U.S. trade relationships with China and the future of the U.S. insurance industry as it faces the challenges of technology development and talent recruitment and retention, among many others. What follows is an edited transcript of that discussion.


R&I: One hundred years is quite an impressive milestone for any company. Celebrating the anniversary in China signifies the importance and longevity of that relationship. Can you tell us more about C.V. Starr’s history with China?

Hank Greenberg: We have a long history in China. I first went there in 1975. There was little there, but I had business throughout Asia, and I stopped there all the time. I’d stop there a couple of times a year and build relationships.

When I first started visiting China, there was only one state-owned insurance company there, PICC (the People’s Insurance Company of China); it was tiny at the time. We helped them to grow.

I also received the first foreign life insurance license in China, for AIA (The American International Assurance Co.). To date, there has been no other foreign life insurance company in China. It took me 20 years of hard work to get that license.

We also introduced an agency system in China. They had none. Their life company employees would get a salary whether they sold something or not. With the agency system of course you get paid a commission if you sell something. Once that agency system was installed, it went on to create more than a million jobs.

R&I: So Starr’s success has meant success for the Chinese insurance industry as well.

Hank Greenberg: That’s partly why we’re going to be celebrating that anniversary there next month. That celebration will occur alongside that of IBLAC (International Business Leaders’ Advisory Council), an international business advisory group that was put together when Zhu Rongji was the mayor of Shanghai [Zhu is since retired from public life]. He asked me to start that to attract foreign companies to invest in Shanghai.

“It turns out that it is harder [for China] to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

Shanghai and China in general were just coming out of the doldrums then; there was a lack of foreign investment. Zhu asked me to chair IBLAC and to help get it started, which I did. I served as chairman of that group for a couple of terms. I am still a part of that board, and it will be celebrating its 30th anniversary along with our 100th anniversary.

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We have a good relationship with China, and we’re candid as you can tell from the op-ed I published in the Wall Street Journal. I’m told that my op-ed was received quite well in China, by both Chinese companies and foreign companies doing business there.

On August 29, Mr. Greenberg published an opinion piece in the WSJ reminding Chinese leaders of the productive history of U.S.-Sino relations and suggesting that Chinese leaders take pragmatic steps to ease trade tensions with the U.S.

R&I: What’s your outlook on current trade relations between the U.S. and China?

Hank Greenberg: As to the current environment, when you are in negotiations, every leader negotiates differently.

President Trump is negotiating based on his well-known approach. What’s different now is that President Xi (Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China) made himself the emperor. All the past presidents in China before the revolution had two terms. He’s there for life, which makes things much more difficult.

R&I: Sure does. You’ve got a one- or two-term president talking to somebody who can wait it out. It’s definitely unique.

Hank Greenberg: So, clearly a lot of change is going on in China. Some of it is good. But as I said in the op-ed, China needs to be treated like the second largest economy in the world, which it is. And it will be the number one economy in the world in not too many years. That means that you can’t use the same terms of trade that you did 25 or 30 years ago.

They want to have access to our market and other markets. Fine, but you have to have reciprocity, and they have not been very good at that.

R&I: What stands in the way of that happening?

Hank Greenberg: I think there are several substantial challenges. One, their structure makes it very difficult. They have a senior official, a regulator, who runs a division within the government for insurance. He keeps that job as long as he does what leadership wants him to do. He may not be sure what they want him to do.

For example, the president made a speech many months ago saying they are going to open up banking, insurance and a couple of additional sectors to foreign investment; nothing happened.

The reason was that the head of that division got changed. A new administrator came in who was not sure what the president wanted so he did nothing. Time went on and the international community said, “Wait a minute, you promised that you were going to do that and you didn’t do that.”

So the structure is such that it is very difficult. China can’t react as fast as it should. That will change, but it is going to take time.

R&I: That’s interesting, because during the financial crisis in 2008 there was talk that China, given their more centralized authority, could react more quickly, not less quickly.

Hank Greenberg: It turns out that it is harder to change, because they have one leader. My guess is that we’ll work it out sooner or later. Trump and Xi have to meet. That will result in some agreement that will get to them and they will have to finish the rest of the negotiations. I believe that will happen.

R&I: Obviously, you have a very unique perspective and experience in China. For American companies coming to China, what are some of the current challenges?

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Hank Greenberg: Well, they very much want to do business in China. That’s due to the sheer size of the country, at 1.4 billion people. It’s a very big market and not just for insurance companies. It’s a whole range of companies that would like to have access to China as easily as Chinese companies have access to the United States. As I said previously, that has to be resolved.

It’s not going to be easy, because China has a history of not being treated well by other countries. The U.S. has been pretty good in that way. We haven’t taken advantage of China.

R&I: Your op-ed was very enlightening on that topic.

Hank Greenberg: President Xi wants to rebuild the “middle kingdom,” to what China was, a great country. Part of that was his takeover of the South China Sea rock islands during the Obama Administration; we did nothing. It’s a little late now to try and do something. They promised they would never militarize those islands. Then they did. That’s a real problem in Southern Asia. The other countries in that region are not happy about that.

R&I: One thing that has differentiated your company is that it is not a public company, and it is not a mutual company. We think you’re the only large insurance company with that structure at that scale. What advantages does that give you?

Hank Greenberg: Two things. First of all, we’re more than an insurance company. We have the traditional investment unit with the insurance company. Then we have a separate investment unit that we started, which is very successful. So we have a source of income that is diverse. We don’t have to underwrite business that is going to lose a lot of money. Not knowingly anyway.

R&I: And that’s because you are a private company?

Hank Greenberg: Yes. We attract a different type of person in a private company.

R&I: Do you think that enables you to react more quickly?

Hank Greenberg: Absolutely. When we left AIG there were three of us. Myself, Howie Smith and Ed Matthews. Howie used to run the internal financials and Ed Matthews was the investment guy coming out of Morgan Stanley when I was putting AIG together. We started with three people and now we have 3,500 and growing.

“I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.” — Maurice “Hank” Greenberg, chairman and CEO, C.V. Starr & Co. Inc.

R&I:  You being forced to leave AIG in 2005 really was an injustice, by the way. AIG wouldn’t have been in the position it was in 2008 if you had still been there.

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Hank Greenberg: Absolutely not. We had all the right things in place. We met with the financial services division once a day every day to make sure they stuck to what they were supposed to do. Even Hank Paulson, the Secretary of Treasury, sat on the stand during my trial and said that if I’d been at the company, it would not have imploded the way it did.

R&I: And that fateful decision the AIG board made really affected the course of the country.

Hank Greenberg: So many people lost all of their net worth. The new management was taking on billions of dollars’ worth of risk with no collateral. They had decimated the internal risk management controls. And the government takeover of the company when the financial crisis blew up was grossly unfair.

From the time it went public, AIG’s value had increased from $300 million to $180 billion. Thanks to Eliot Spitzer, it’s now worth a fraction of that. His was a gross misuse of the Martin Act. It gives the Attorney General the power to investigate without probable cause and bring fraud charges without having to prove intent. Only in New York does the law grant the AG that much power.

R&I: It’s especially frustrating when you consider the quality of his own character, and the scandal he was involved in.

In early 2008, Spitzer was caught on a federal wiretap arranging a meeting with a prostitute at a Washington Hotel and resigned shortly thereafter.

Hank Greenberg: Yes. And it’s been successive. Look at Eric Schneiderman. He resigned earlier this year when it came out that he had abused several women. And this was after he came out so strongly against other men accused of the same thing. To me it demonstrates hypocrisy and abuse of power.

Schneiderman followed in Spitzer’s footsteps in leveraging the Martin Act against numerous corporations to generate multi-billion dollar settlements.

R&I: Starr, however, continues to thrive. You said you’re at 3,500 people and still growing. As you continue to expand, how do you deal with the challenge of attracting talent?

Hank Greenberg: We did something last week.

On September 16th, St. John’s University announced the largest gift in its 148-year history. The Starr Foundation donated $15 million to the school, establishing the Maurice R. Greenberg Leadership Initiative at St. John’s School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science.

Hank Greenberg: We have recruited from St. John’s for many, many years. These are young people who want to be in the insurance industry. They don’t get into it by accident. They study to become proficient in this and we have recruited some very qualified individuals from that school. But we also recruit from many other universities. On the investment side, outside of the insurance industry, we also recruit from Wall Street.

R&I: We’re very interested in how you and other leaders in this industry view technology and how they’re going to use it.

Hank Greenberg: I think technology can play a role in reducing operating expenses. In the last 70 years, you have seen the expense ratio of the industry rise, and I’m not sure the industry can afford a 35 percent expense ratio. But while technology can help, some additional fundamental changes will also be required.

R&I: So as the pre-eminent leader of the insurance industry, what do you see in terms of where insurance is now and where it’s going?

Hank Greenberg: The country and the world will always need insurance. That doesn’t mean that what we have today is what we’re going to have 25 years from now.

How quickly the change comes and how far it will go will depend on individual companies and individual countries. Some will be more brave than others. But change will take place, there is no doubt about it.

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More will go on in space, there is no question about that. We’re involved in it right now as an insurance company, and it will get broader.

One of the things you have to worry about is it’s now a nuclear world. It’s a more dangerous world. And again, we have to find some way to deal with that.

So, change is inevitable. You need people who can deal with change.

R&I:  Is there anything else, Mr. Greenberg, you want to comment on?

Hank Greenberg: I think I’ve covered it. &

The R&I Editorial Team can be reached at [email protected]