Making Real Change Happen Through Committed Action

As many students participate in the National School Walkout in protest that something be done following the tragic Parkland school shooting today, it’s a good time to focus on the best way to make needed community and government change happen.

Want to make real change happen? Stop Protesting. Start Doing.

Whether stopping school or community violence, fixing health care, ending discrimination or seeking government intervention to help accomplish any other change, the truth is that real change that works comes from thoughtful, meaningful, strategic, sustained action by individuals working together in their communities. Usually government intervention can do little to really accomplish anything that communities working together can’t accomplish without government regulation. When and if necessary, however, it helps if efforts to work with government Leaders are properly focused and executed.

Want to get government to help make real change happen? Stop Protesting. Start Doing. Decide what realistically can be done without government and what government realistically can and will do that can’t be better achieved without it.

Don’t wait for government to do anything. Start with you. Lead by example. Do what you can do personally to make things better. Lead by example, then recruit and motivate friends and others to join you.

When looking to motivate government, protest seldom motivates meaningful real change. Instead of venting, look at what government realistically could do, and what politically is possible to accomplish. Recognize that legislation and regulation almost always involves compromise and laws and regulations rarely happen quickly or the way initially proposed. All or nothing efforts usually get nothing. Take what you can get done and keep pushing toward the goal.

Too often, passing legislation primarily achieves only symbolic change. The enactment affirms and validates the concern. However, legislative enactment rarely solves anything. Change through legislation or regulation requires sustained action to get proper implementation and enforcement. Stay involved. Keep providing informed, measured, well-thought-out, specific oversight and input to government leaders through focused comment delivered through official comment channels. Otherwise, the legislation actually hurts progress by promoting the myth that the enactment solved the problem when the real work had just begun.

In all cases, keep your involvement and leadership going in the community. Even when government acts, this is where true change happens.

About The Author

Repeatedly recognized by her peers as a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%) and “Top Rated Lawyer” with special recognition LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: ERISA & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, a Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Council, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation and board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney, management consultant, author, public policy advocate and lecturer widely known for health and managed care, employee benefits, insurance and financial services, data and technology and other management work, public policy leadership and advocacy, coaching, teachings, and publications. For her profession practice and pro bono work with PROJECT COPE and others she is recognized for her work, experience, leadership and publications on veterans and other health and workforce policy and law and regulation for more than 30 years.

Ms. Stamer also has an extensive contributes her leadership and insights with other professionals, industry leaders and lawmakers.    Her insights on health care, insurance, benefits and other risk management and compliance concerns often appear in medical privacy related publications of a broad range of health care, health plan and other industry publications Among others, she has conducted privacy training for the Association of State & Territorial Health Plans (ASTHO), the Los Angeles Health Department, SHRM, HIMMS, the American Bar Association, the Health Care Compliance Association, a multitude of health plan, insurance and financial services, education, employer employee benefit and other clients, trade and professional associations and others.  You can get more information about her HIPAA and other experience here. For additional information about Ms. Stamer, see here, e-mail her here or telephone Ms. Stamer at (214) 452-8297.

About Solutions Law Press, Inc.™

Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ provides human resources and employee benefit and other business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other coaching, tools and other resources, training and education on leadership, governance, human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ resources here including:

Review Your Provider Performance Data

1/18 Comment Deadline on Office Of Child Care Guidance That Allows Background Check Requirement Delays

Bill Allowing FDA Emergency Use Authorizations To Protect Military From Biological Warfare Threats Sent to President

OIG Tells Texas Stop Paying Medicaid MCOs For Dead Patients

1/19 Deadline To Comment On Proposed FDA Premarket Notice Exemption For Over-The-Counter Dental Repair Kits

Michigan Doctor Pleads Guilty To Billing Medicare For Illegally Prescribed Drugs

Anesthesiology Practice Nailed For Improperly Billing For Moderate Sedation

Florida Doctor Sentenced For Multi-Million Dollar Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment Health Care Fraud, Money Laundering & Forced Prostitution Scheme

CMS Announces New Medicare Provider Ombudsman

Comment By 1/8 on Guidance for Industry on Expedited Programs for Serious Conditions– Drugs and Biologics

CMS Publishes 2018 Updates To Home Health Prospective Payment Rates & Rules

CMS Publishes 2018 Physician Fee Schedule Rule

Check Your Medicare/Medicaid Compliance Against Against Quarterly Guidance Changes List

CDC Proposed Changes To NIOSH Occupational Health Biological Monitoring Methods for Chemical Exposures

HHS Picks Hargan As Acting HHS Secretary

OCR Gives Health Care Providers, Other Covered Entities Post-Las Vegas Shooting HIPAA Medical Privacy Guidance On Disclosures To Family, Media & Others For Notification & Other Purposes

Novo Nordisk Pays $58M+ For Not Giving FDA-Required Warnings ABout Victoza Cancer Risks

Christus Pays $12.24M Settlement Resolves False Claims Act Charges From “Donations” To New Mexico

Oklahoma Nursing Home Settles HHS HIV Discrimination Charges

HHS Issues Hurricane Irma Relief For Puerto Rico, U.S. Virgin Islands & Florida

HHS Medical Clinic to Provide Healthcare to Hurricane Harvey Victims at Houston Convention Center Starting Wednesday

CMS Proposes Cutbacks To Medicare Bundled Payment Program

CMS Releases 2017 Provider Payment Program Hardship Exception Application

RAISE Act Immigration Visa, Visa Holder Public Benefit Limits Create Potential Health Industry Concerns

SCOTUS Bars State Law Restrictions On Health, Other Arbitration Agreement Enforceability

Health Care, Health Plan & Other Health IT Systems Warned of E-Mail Cyber Attack

$2.4M HIPAA Settlement Warns Providers About Media Disclosures Of PHI

CardioNet $2.5M HIPAA Resolution Agreement Schools HIPAA Entities To Clean Up Their Acts

Medical Clinic HIPAA Resolution Agreement Shows Need For Current Business Associate Agreements

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information including your preferred e-mail by creating your profile here.

NOTICE: These statements and materials are for general informational and purposes only. They do not establish an attorney-client relationship, are not legal advice or an offer or commitment to provide legal advice, and do not serve as a substitute for legal advice. Readers are urged to engage competent legal counsel for consultation and representation in light of the specific facts and circumstances presented in their unique circumstance at any particular time. No comment or statement in this publication is to be construed as legal advice or an admission. The author reserves the right to qualify or retract any of these statements at any time. Likewise, the content is not tailored to any particular situation and does not necessarily address all relevant issues. Because the law is rapidly evolving and rapidly evolving rules makes it highly likely that subsequent developments could impact the currency and completeness of this discussion. The presenter and the program sponsor disclaim, and have no responsibility to provide any update or otherwise notify any participant of any such change, limitation, or other condition that might affect the suitability of reliance upon these materials or information otherwise conveyed in connection with this program. Readers may not rely upon, are solely responsible for, and assume the risk and all liabilities resulting from their use of this publication.

Circular 230 Compliance. The following disclaimer is included to ensure that we comply with U.S. Treasury Department Regulations. Any statements contained herein are not intended or written by the writer to be used, and nothing contained herein can be used by you or any other person, for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties that may be imposed under federal tax law, or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related transaction or matter addressed herein.

©2018 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ For information about republication, please contact the author directly. All other rights reserved.

Better Patient Tracking & Reporting of Symptoms Promotes Better Care

A physician explains that patient reporting and discussion of symptoms with their physician is a critical component of the diagnosis process.

Patients and their caregivers can help improve the quality of care they receive from physicians and other health care providers by accurately tracking and reporting patient symptoms to their physician and other health care providers.  Solutions Law Press, Inc. Project COPE thanks Gene Uzawa Dorio, M.D.  for permission to republish the following February 28, 2018 Doctor’s Diary on Symptoms originally published in the SVC Physician Report.  

Symptoms

Your body talks to you.  Billions of cells work in harmony allowing you to live and survive our environment.  But when something goes wrong, the body cries out = symptoms.

Sometimes symptoms resolve, while persistence could signify a threat.

The symptom of chest pain though doesn’t always mean a heart attack.  A headache doesn’t always mean a brain tumor.  Blood in your stool doesn’t always mean colon cancer.

Heeding symptoms brings us to the doctor, and it is the job of the physician to interpret them and make a diagnosis.  Nowadays, time spent in conversation with a doctor is limited, so bring notes and be prepared to go into detail.

For example, does the chest pain radiate to the arms, back, or abdomen; is it associated with nausea, vomiting, dizziness, or palpitations; does it come with exertion; do you sweat with the chest pain?  Elaborating symptoms allows your doctor to decide if it is a threat.

The body talks to you through symptoms.  Make sure your doctor is listening.

About The Author

Dr. Gene Uzawa Dorio practices geriatric, palliative, and hospice care in Santa Clarita, California.  For additional information or to read other articles by Dr. Dorio, see  SVC Physician Report.  

 

About Solutions Law Press, Inc.™

Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ provides human resources and employee benefit and other business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other coaching, tools and other resources, training and education on leadership, governance, human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ resources here such as

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please be sure that we have your current contact information including your preferred e-mail by creating  your profile here.

IRS Guidance Warns About 2017 Deductibility of 2018 Property Taxes In Prepaid In 2017

IRS warns 2018 property tax prepayments only deductible in 2017 if already assessed in 2017.

Taxpayers hoping to preserve and maximize their ability to deduct 2018 state and local property taxes from their income taxes by prepaying those taxes in 2017 before new limitations on the deductibility of state and local property taxes enacted as part of the Job Creation and Tax Reform Act (TRA2017) should verify that the taxes to be prepaid in 2017 should verify that any 2018 tax amounts they plan to prepay actually are both assessed and paid during 2017in light of new Internal Revenue Service (IRS) guidance published on December 27, 2017.

Published on December 27, 2017 in response to questions about the deducibility of prepaid property taxes prompted by new limits on state and local property tax deductions enacted as part of TRA2017 scheduled to take effect in 2018, IR-2017-210  pre-paying 2018 state and local real property taxes in 2017 may be tax deductible only if the pre-paid amounts meet certain conditions.

According to IR-2017-210, whether a taxpayer is allowed a deduction for the prepayment of state or local real property taxes in 2017 generally depends on whether the taxpayer makes the payment in 2017 and the real property taxes are assessed prior to 2018.  IR-2017-210 adds that a prepayment of anticipated real property taxes that have not been assessed prior to 2018 are not deductible in 2017.

According to IR-2017-210, the IRS generally considers a property tax assessedwhen the taxpayer becomes liable for the property tax imposed as determined by state or local law.

IR-2017-210 illustrates these points with the following examples:

Example 1: Assume County A assesses property tax on July 1, 2017 for the period July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.  On July 31, 2017, County A sends notices to residents notifying them of the assessment and billing the property tax in two installments with the first installment due Sept. 30, 2017 and the second installment due Jan. 31, 2018.   Assuming taxpayer has paid the first installment in 2017, the taxpayer may choose to pay the second installment on Dec. 31, 2017, and may claim a deduction for this prepayment on the taxpayer’s 2017 return.

Example 2: County B also assesses and bills its residents for property taxes on July 1, 2017, for the period July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018. County B intends to make the usual assessment in July 2018 for the period July 1, 2018 – June 30, 2019.  However, because county residents wish to prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes in 2017, County B has revised its computer systems to accept prepayment of property taxes for the 2018-2019 property tax year.  Taxpayers who prepay their 2018-2019 property taxes in 2017 will not be allowed to deduct the prepayment on their federal tax returns because the county will not assess the property tax for the 2018-2019 tax year until July 1, 2018.

Accordingly, before prepaying 2018 state and local property taxes in an effort to maximize the federal income tax deductibility of those pre-paid amounts, taxpayers generally will want to check with state and local property tax assessors to confirm that the proposed prepayment amounts are for 2018 property taxes already assessed as well as ensure that the payment is timely made before December 31, 2017.

About The Author

Recognized by her peers as a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%) and “Top Rated Lawyer” with special recognition LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: Erisa & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and management consultant, author, public policy advocate and lecturer widely known for management work, coaching, teachings, and publications.

Ms. Stamer works with businesses and their management, employee benefit plans, governments and other organizations deal with all aspects of human resources and workforce, internal controls and regulatory compliance, change management and other performance and operations management and compliance. Her day-to-day work encompasses both labor and employment issues, as well as independent contractor, outsourcing, employee leasing, management services and other nontraditional service relationships. She supports her clients both on a real-time, “on demand” basis and with longer term basis to deal with all aspects for workforce and human resources management, including, recruitment, hiring, firing, compensation and benefits, promotion, discipline, compliance, trade secret and confidentiality, noncompetition, privacy and data security, safety, daily performance and operations management, emerging crises, strategic planning, process improvement and change management, investigations, defending litigation, audits, investigations or other enforcement challenges, government affairs and public policy.

Well-known for her extensive work with health, insurance, financial services, technology, energy, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, governmental and other highly regulated employers, her nearly 30 years’ of experience encompasses domestic and international businesses of all types and sizes.

A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation, Ms. Stamer also shares her thought leadership, experience and advocacy on these and other concerns by her service as a management consultant,  business coach and consultant and policy strategist as well through her leadership participation in professional and civic organizations such her involvement as the Vice Chair of the North Texas Healthcare Compliance Association; Executive Director of the Coalition on Responsible Health Policy and its PROJECT COPE: Coalition on Patient Empowerment; former Board President of the early childhood development intervention agency, The Richardson Development Center for Children; former Gulf Coast TEGE Council Exempt Organization Coordinator; a founding Board Member and past President of the Alliance for Healthcare Excellence; former board member and Vice President of the Managed Care Association; past Board Member and Board Compliance Committee Chair for the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas; a member and policy adviser to the National Physicians’ Council for Healthcare Policy; current Vice Chair of the ABA Tort & Insurance Practice Section Employee Benefits Committee; current Vice Chair of Policy for the Life Sciences Committee of the ABA International Section; Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section; ABA Real Property Probate and Trust (RPTE) Section former Employee Benefits Group Chair, immediate past RPTE Representative to ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Council Representative, and Defined Contribution Committee Co-Chair, past Welfare Benefit Committee Chair and current Employee Benefits Group Fiduciary Responsibility Committee Co-Chair, Substantive and Group Committee member, Membership Committee member and RPTE Representative to the ABA Health Law Coordinating Council; past Chair of the Dallas Bar Association Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Committee; a former member of the Board of Directors, Treasurer, Member and Continuing Education Chair of the Southwest Benefits Association and others.

Ms. Stamer also is a widely published author, highly popular lecturer, and serial symposia chair, who publishes and speaks extensively on human resources, labor and employment, employee benefits, compensation, occupational safety and health, and other leadership, performance, regulatory and operational risk management, public policy and community service concerns for the American Bar Association, ALI-ABA, American Health Lawyers, Society of Human Resources Professionals, the Southwest Benefits Association, the Society of Employee Benefits Administrators, the American Law Institute, Lexis-Nexis, Atlantic Information Services, The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), InsuranceThoughtLeaders.com, Benefits Magazine, Employee Benefit News, Texas CEO Magazine, HealthLeaders, the HCCA, ISSA, HIMSS, Modern Healthcare, Managed Healthcare, Institute of Internal Auditors, Society of CPAs, Business Insurance, Employee Benefits News, World At Work, Benefits Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other symposia and publications. She also has served as an Editorial Advisory Board Member for human resources, employee benefit and other management focused publications of BNA, HR.com, Employee Benefit News, InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com and many other prominent publications and speaks and conducts training for a broad range of professional organizations and for clients on the Advisory Boards of InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com, HR.com, Employee Benefit News, and many other publications.

Want to know more? See here for details about the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, e-mail her here or telephone Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872.

About Solutions Law Press, Inc.™

Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ provides human resources and employee benefit and other business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other coaching, tools and other resources, training and education on leadership, governance, human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ resources at SolutionsLawPress.com.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please provide your current contact information and preferences including your preferred e-mail by creating or updating your profile here.

NOTICE: These statements and materials are for general informational and purposes only. They do not establish an attorney-client relationship, are not legal advice, and do not serve as a substitute for legal advice. Readers are urged to engage competent legal counsel for consultation and representation in light of the specific facts and circumstances presented in their unique circumstance at any particular time. No comment or statement in this publication is to be construed as an admission. The author reserves the right to qualify or retract any of these statements at any time. Likewise, the content is not tailored to any particular situation and does not necessarily address all relevant issues. Because the law is rapidly evolving and rapidly evolving rules makes it highly likely that subsequent developments could impact the currency and completeness of this discussion. The presenter and the program sponsor disclaim, and have no responsibility to provide any update or otherwise notify any participant of any such change, limitation, or other condition that might affect the suitability of reliance upon these materials or information otherwise conveyed in connection with this program. Readers may not rely upon, are solely responsible for, and assume the risk and all liabilities resulting from their use of this publication.

Circular 230 Compliance. The following disclaimer is included to ensure that we comply with U.S. Treasury Department Regulations. Any statements contained herein are not intended or written by the writer to be used, and nothing contained herein can be used by you or any other person, for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties that may be imposed under federal tax law, or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related transaction or matter addressed herein.

©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions  Law Press, Inc.™   For information about republication, please contact the author directly.  All other rights reserved.

Obamacare Relief For Some Individuals With Limited Exchange Choices

The Internal Revenue Service is acting to help health Obamacare subsidy eligible individuals living in regions where exchange insurers do not offer bronze (lowest cost) coverage. The move comes as House and Senate Conferees are preparing to conference to work out differences in the tax bill which could repeal the individual Obamacare penalty for failing to maintain coverage while leaving employer penalties against large employers for failing to offer affordable minimum essential coverage.

Notice 2017-74  will provide that Individuals who are not eligible for coverage under an eligible employer-sponsored plan and who lack access to affordable coverage should not be denied the use of the affordability exemption under § 5000A(e)(1) of the Code and § 1.5000A-3(e) of the Regulations merely because they reside in an area served by a Marketplace that does not offer a bronze-level plan.  Consequently, for purposes of the affordability exemption under § 5000A(e)(1) and § 1.5000A-3(e), if an individual resides in a rating area served by a Marketplace that does not offer a bronze plan, the individual generally should use as his or her applicable plan the lowest cost metal-level plan available in the Marketplace serving the rating area in which the individual resides.

Notice 2017-74 will be in IRB 2017-51, dated December 18, 2017.

About The Author

Recognized by her peers as a Martindale-Hubble “AV-Preeminent” (Top 1%) and “Top Rated Lawyer” with special recognition LexisNexis® Martindale-Hubbell® as “LEGAL LEADER™ Texas Top Rated Lawyer” in Health Care Law and Labor and Employment Law; as among the “Best Lawyers In Dallas” for her work in the fields of “Labor & Employment,” “Tax: Erisa & Employee Benefits,” “Health Care” and “Business and Commercial Law” by D Magazine, Cynthia Marcotte Stamer is a practicing attorney board certified in labor and employment law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization and management consultant, author, public policy advocate and lecturer widely known for management work, coaching, teachings, and publications.

Ms. Stamer works with businesses and their management, employee benefit plans, governments and other organizations deal with all aspects of human resources and workforce, internal controls and regulatory compliance, change management and other performance and operations management and compliance. Her day-to-day work encompasses both labor and employment issues, as well as independent contractor, outsourcing, employee leasing, management services and other nontraditional service relationships. She supports her clients both on a real-time, “on demand” basis and with longer term basis to deal with all aspects for workforce and human resources management, including, recruitment, hiring, firing, compensation and benefits, promotion, discipline, compliance, trade secret and confidentiality, noncompetition, privacy and data security, safety, daily performance and operations management, emerging crises, strategic planning, process improvement and change management, investigations, defending litigation, audits, investigations or other enforcement challenges, government affairs and public policy.

Well-known for her extensive work with health, insurance, financial services, technology, energy, manufacturing, retail, hospitality, governmental and other highly regulated employers, her nearly 30 years’ of experience encompasses domestic and international businesses of all types and sizes.

A Fellow in the American College of Employee Benefit Counsel, the American Bar Foundation and the Texas Bar Foundation, Ms. Stamer also shares her thought leadership, experience and advocacy on these and other concerns by her service as a management consultant,  business coach and consultant and policy strategist as well through her leadership participation in professional and civic organizations such her involvement as the Vice Chair of the North Texas Healthcare Compliance Association; Executive Director of the Coalition on Responsible Health Policy and its PROJECT COPE: Coalition on Patient Empowerment; former Board President of the early childhood development intervention agency, The Richardson Development Center for Children; former Gulf Coast TEGE Council Exempt Organization Coordinator; a founding Board Member and past President of the Alliance for Healthcare Excellence; former board member and Vice President of the Managed Care Association; past Board Member and Board Compliance Committee Chair for the National Kidney Foundation of North Texas; a member and policy adviser to the National Physicians’ Council for Healthcare Policy; current Vice Chair of the ABA Tort & Insurance Practice Section Employee Benefits Committee; current Vice Chair of Policy for the Life Sciences Committee of the ABA International Section; Past Chair of the ABA Health Law Section Managed Care & Insurance Section; ABA Real Property Probate and Trust (RPTE) Section former Employee Benefits Group Chair, immediate past RPTE Representative to ABA Joint Committee on Employee Benefits Council Representative, and Defined Contribution Committee Co-Chair, past Welfare Benefit Committee Chair and current Employee Benefits Group Fiduciary Responsibility Committee Co-Chair, Substantive and Group Committee member, Membership Committee member and RPTE Representative to the ABA Health Law Coordinating Council; past Chair of the Dallas Bar Association Employee Benefits & Executive Compensation Committee; a former member of the Board of Directors, Treasurer, Member and Continuing Education Chair of the Southwest Benefits Association and others.

Ms. Stamer also is a widely published author, highly popular lecturer, and serial symposia chair, who publishes and speaks extensively on human resources, labor and employment, employee benefits, compensation, occupational safety and health, and other leadership, performance, regulatory and operational risk management, public policy and community service concerns for the American Bar Association, ALI-ABA, American Health Lawyers, Society of Human Resources Professionals, the Southwest Benefits Association, the Society of Employee Benefits Administrators, the American Law Institute, Lexis-Nexis, Atlantic Information Services, The Bureau of National Affairs (BNA), InsuranceThoughtLeaders.com, Benefits Magazine, Employee Benefit News, Texas CEO Magazine, HealthLeaders, the HCCA, ISSA, HIMSS, Modern Healthcare, Managed Healthcare, Institute of Internal Auditors, Society of CPAs, Business Insurance, Employee Benefits News, World At Work, Benefits Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Dallas Morning News, the Dallas Business Journal, the Houston Business Journal, and many other symposia and publications. She also has served as an Editorial Advisory Board Member for human resources, employee benefit and other management focused publications of BNA, HR.com, Employee Benefit News, InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com and many other prominent publications and speaks and conducts training for a broad range of professional organizations and for clients on the Advisory Boards of InsuranceThoughtLeadership.com, HR.com, Employee Benefit News, and many other publications.

Want to know more? See here for details about the author of this update, attorney Cynthia Marcotte Stamer, e-mail her here or telephone Ms. Stamer at (469) 767-8872.

About Solutions Law Press, Inc.™

Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ provides human resources and employee benefit and other business risk management, legal compliance, management effectiveness and other coaching, tools and other resources, training and education on leadership, governance, human resources, employee benefits, data security and privacy, insurance, health care and other key compliance, risk management, internal controls and operational concerns. If you find this of interest, you also be interested reviewing some of our other Solutions Law Press, Inc.™ resources at SolutionsLawPress.com.

If you or someone else you know would like to receive future updates about developments on these and other concerns, please provide your current contact information and preferences including your preferred e-mail by creating or updating your profile here.

NOTICE: These statements and materials are for general informational and purposes only. They do not establish an attorney-client relationship, are not legal advice, and do not serve as a substitute for legal advice. Readers are urged to engage competent legal counsel for consultation and representation in light of the specific facts and circumstances presented in their unique circumstance at any particular time. No comment or statement in this publication is to be construed as an admission. The author reserves the right to qualify or retract any of these statements at any time. Likewise, the content is not tailored to any particular situation and does not necessarily address all relevant issues. Because the law is rapidly evolving and rapidly evolving rules makes it highly likely that subsequent developments could impact the currency and completeness of this discussion. The presenter and the program sponsor disclaim, and have no responsibility to provide any update or otherwise notify any participant of any such change, limitation, or other condition that might affect the suitability of reliance upon these materials or information otherwise conveyed in connection with this program. Readers may not rely upon, are solely responsible for, and assume the risk and all liabilities resulting from their use of this publication.

Circular 230 Compliance. The following disclaimer is included to ensure that we comply with U.S. Treasury Department Regulations. Any statements contained herein are not intended or written by the writer to be used, and nothing contained herein can be used by you or any other person, for the purpose of (1) avoiding penalties that may be imposed under federal tax law, or (2) promoting, marketing or recommending to another party any tax-related transaction or matter addressed herein.

©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish granted to Solutions  Law Press, Inc.™   For information about republication, please contact the author directly.  All other rights reserved.

Back To School Bullying Reminder

New and resumed interactions that accompany the start of a new school year create new bullying risks.

The federal government and many states have laws and other rules that make bullying illegal or civilly actionable in schools and other locations in the number of circumstances. See e.g Texas Anti-Bullying Laws. While these laws may help deter or partially redress the effects of some bullying under some circumstances, victims of bullying and family, friends, school, business, community and government leaders trying to prevent an address it know it the law rarely provides an adequate tool to stop all bullying, much less provide quick or reliable protection or relief for those targeted by bullies.

Help protect your child and others by educating yourself, your child and family, your teachers and school leaders, and friends that bullying is wrong, how to recognize it and what to do to prevent and remedy it.

STOPBULLYING.gov is one of many free websites that provides valuable resources about bullying, why it’s wrong and harmful, laws and other rules that help to prohibit and regress it and a host of other helpful resources to prevent and help people cope with bullying problems.

The best way to prevent or stop bullying is for everyone to step up and fight it. Step up to stomp out bullying. Teach and require your children and others to treat others with respect and to expect and require those around them to do the same. When someone is being bullied, use the tools from these resources to defend yourself or the other victims in a constructive way. Uniform zero intolerance is the best and most reliable redress and cure for bad behavior.

Practice Pool Safety

Practicing water safety is critical!

Summertime means pool time.  

Splashing around in the water provides a wonderful opportunity to stay cool and have fun … as long as everyone stays safe.

News reports of an Ohio lifeguard saving a toddler the first day on the job is a timely  reminder of the importance of knowing and constantly practicing pool safety when you or someone near you is in or near a pool or other water.

Downing & Near Drowning Very Common

Centers for Disease Control (CDC) data shows the importance of water safety and vigilance:

  • Drowning ranks fifth among the leading causes of unintentional injury death in the United States.
  • 10 people die from unintentional drowning every day on average.
  • Children are particularly African American children 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of whites. This disparity is greatest among those 11-12 years where African Americans drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of whites. are children 14 and younger.
  • For every child who dies from drowning, another five receive emergency department care for nonfatal submersion injuries.
  • More than 50% of drowning victims treated in emergency departments (EDs) require hospitalization or transfer for further care (compared with a hospitalization rate of about 6% for all unintentional injuries).
  • Near drownings are a leading cause of permanent brain injury.  These nonfatal drowning injuries can cause severe brain damage that may result in long-term disabilities such as memory problems, learning disabilities, and permanent loss of basic functioning (e.g., permanent vegetative state).

While anyone in or around the water may get into trouble under the right circumstances, the victims overwhelmingly tend to be young children and are mostly males.  According to the CDC:

  • Children ages 1 to 4 have the highest drowning rates. In 2014, among children 1 to 4 years old who died from an unintentional injury, one-third died from drowning, most of which occur in home swimming pools.
  • Male and minorities have a higher likelihood of becoming victims.  CDC statistics show:
    • Nearly 80% of people who die from drowning are male; and
    • African American children 5-19 drown in swimming pools at rates 5.5 times higher than those of whites. This disparity is greatest among those 11-12 years where African Americans drown in swimming pools at rates 10 times those of whites.

Factors Influencing Drowning Risk

CDC data also reveals the main factors that affect drowning risk:

  • Lack of swimming ability,
  • Lack of barriers to prevent unsupervised water access,
  • Lack of close supervision while swimming,
  • Location,
  • Failure to wear life jackets,
  • Alcohol use, and
  • Seizure disorders.

Preventing Drowning Injuries

CDC data also provides helpful tips about steps people can take to reduce the risk of drowning or near drowning deaths and injuries including the following key safety measures:

  • Close supervision and vigilance is critical whether or not an individual can swim. Drowning can happen quickly and quietly anywhere there is water (such as bathtubs, swimming pools, buckets), and even in the presence of lifeguards.
  • Swimming lessons are a key tool to reduce the risk of drowning in young children.  The CDC reports participation in formal swimming lessons can reduce the risk of drowning among children aged 1 to 4 years.
  • Barriers, such as pool fencing, prevent young children from gaining access to the pool area without caregivers’ awareness. A four-sided isolation fence (separating the pool area from the house and yard) reduces a child’s risk of drowning 83% compared to three-sided property-line fencing.

CDC demonstrates that age or location may increase the need for added diligence and supervision.  The data shows that people of different ages drown in different locations.

  • Most children ages 1-4 drown in home swimming pools.
  • The percentage of drownings in natural water settings, including lakes, rivers and oceans, increases with age.
  • More than half of fatal and nonfatal drownings among those 15 years and older (57% and 57% respectively) occurred in natural water settings.
  • In 2010, the U.S. Coast Guard received reports for 4,604 boating incidents; 3,153 boaters were reported injured, and 672 died. Most (72%) boating deaths that occurred during 2010 were caused by drowning, with 88% of victims not wearing life jackets.
  • For persons with seizure disorders, bathtub drowning is not uncommon.  Drowning is the most common cause of unintentional injury death, with the bathtub as the site of highest drowning risk.

The data also makes clear drinking and water sports are a dangerous cocktail.   According to the CDC, among adolescents and adults:

  • Alcohol use is involved in up to 70% of deaths associated with water recreation;
  • Nearly 1/4 of emergency room visits for drowning; and
  • About 1/5 of reported boating deaths.

Alcohol influences balance, coordination, and judgment, and its effects are heightened by sun exposure and heat. Of course alcohol consumption by others around a swimmer who has been drinking undermine the awareness of those that would be available to rescue and impaired swimmer too.
The bottom line:  Alcohol and water don’t mix.

Water Safety To-Do List

In light of the known risks, Americans, and their employers, health plans, health care providers, and communities should take steps to keep themselves and others safe while enjoying pools, lakes and other rivers this Summer.

Practice water safety and urge others to do the same by taking the following common sense steps:

  • Supervise When in or Around Water 

Designate a responsible adult to watch young children while in the bath and all people swimming or playing in or around water.

Supervisors of preschool and other young children should  be close enough to reach the child at all times (@touch supervision”).

Because drowning occurs quickly and quietly, supervising adults should not be involved in any other distracting activity (such as drinking, reading, playing cards, talking on the phone, or mowing the lawn) while supervising children, even if lifeguards are present.

Parents considering authorizing swimming field trips led by childcare providers or allowing their children to swim under the supervision of others should investigate the adequacy and training of staff to meet these guidelines.

  • Use the Buddy System. 

Always swim with a buddy. 

  • Lifeguards

Select swimming sites that have lifeguards when possible.  When hosting a social or workplace event near or involving swimming or other water activities, consider hiring one or more lifeguards to monitor the activity and be prepared to respond in case of an emergency.

  • Seizure Disorder Safety

If you, a worker or a family member has a seizure disorder, provide one-on-one supervision around water, including swimming pools. Consider taking showers rather than using a bath tub for bathing. Wear life jackets when boating.

  • Learn to Swim & Make Sure Others In Or Near The Water Can Swim

Formal swimming lessons can protect young children from drowning. However, even when children have had formal swimming lessons, constant, careful supervision when children are in the water, and barriers, such as pool fencing to prevent unsupervised access, are still important.

  • Learn Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR)

In the time it takes for paramedics to arrive,  CPR skills could save someone’s life. Many free or low-cost options for learning CPR are readily available from the American Red Cross and others.  If you host people around your pool or other water related event, consider hosting a CPR training at one of your upcoming gatherings.

  • Use Life Jackets, Not Air-Filled or Foam Toys.

Provide an wear Coast Guard approved life jackets in good condition as needed.

Don’t use air-filled or foam toys, such as “water wings”, “noodles”, or inner-tubes, instead of life jackets. These toys are not life jackets and are not designed to keep swimmers safe.

  • Don’t Mix Water & Alcohol

Avoid drinking alcohol before or during swimming, boating, or water skiing.  Do not drink alcohol while supervising children.  Do not serve or control the consumption of alcohol by guests when hosting events involving boating, swimming or other water sports.

  • Guard Against “Hypoxic Blackout”

Teach your children and don’t let swimmers hyperventilate before swimming underwater or try to hold their breath for long periods of time. This can cause them to pass out (sometimes called “hypoxic blackout” or “shallow water blackout”) and drown.

  • Prevent Recreational Water Illnesses

Learn how to and act to prevent recreational water illnesses by following the CDC’s recommended 12 Steps for Prevention of Recreational Water Illnesses.

  • Watch For Hazardous Weather And Conditions

Know the local weather conditions and forecast before swimming or boating. Strong winds and thunderstorms with lightning strikes are dangerous.

  • Practice and Maintain Home Pool Safety

If you have a swimming pool at home, consider the following special safeguards:

  • Install a four-sided pool fence at least four feet high with that completely separates the pool area from the house and yard. The fence should be at least 4 feet high with self-closing and self-latching gates that open outward with latches out of reach of children. Also consider additional barriers such as automatic door locks and alarms to prevent access or alert you if someone enters the pool area.
  • Remove floats, balls and other toys from the pool and surrounding area immediately after use so children are not tempted to enter the pool area unsupervised.
  • Stay vigilant at all times.  Supervise your family and guests.  Require adult guests to provide touch supervision for their children in the pool.   Hire a lifeguard during parties or at other times when your ability to provide touch supervision isn’t sufficient.
  • Don’t swim or allow others to swim after or while consuming alcohol.

Keep in mind that a drowning or near drowning of a family member or guest in your pool presents both a substantial legal exposure as well as risks an irreversible personally devastating experience for all involved.  Don’t let fun get ahead of common sense or safety.

  • Practice Natural Water Safety

If you are in and around natural water settings:

  • Use U.S. Coast Guard approved life jackets regardless of the distance to be traveled, the size of the boat, or the swimming ability of boaters.
  • Know the meaning of and obey warnings represented by colored beach flags. .
  • Watch for dangerous waves and signs of rip currents such as water that is  discolored  choppy, foamy, or filled with debris and moving in a channel away from shore.
  • If you are caught in a rip current, swim parallel to shore. Once free of the current, swim diagonally toward shore.

Also plan ahead and take some common sense steps to prepare for the possible need for a timely rescue before pushing off the boat from the shore or entering the water. Among other things:

  • Let at least a couple people not participating know where you are, where you are going, what you plan to do and when you should be back or checkin;
  • Confirm that at least one cellphone has service and keep it with you and working;
  • Consider using the share my location or other feature on your cellphone or other device to help emergency or other rescue personnel find you in the event of an emergency;
  • Discuss safety rules with all participants before getting started;and
  • Enforce safety throughout the activity.

Remember and remind guests that a drowning or near drowning isn’t worth the risk.

  • Be Prepared: Know CPR & Plan Ahead

Since seconds matter when a drowning or near drowning happens, be prepared for a possible emergency before anyone gets in the water.  At minimum:

  • Know CPR and encourage others to do the same;
  • Prominently your address and keep a telephone available in your pool area; Drop a locator pin on your cell phone or otherwise take note of your location if you were on natural water.

Cooling off in the pool or lake can be a fun way to stay comfortable in the summer. Plan ahead and practice water safety as you and your friends enjoy the fun.

Protect Your Loved One From Abuse

Millions of elderly and disabled Americans live in nursing, assisted living and other care facilities. 

While patients and their families admit patients to these facility rightly expect these care providers to appropriately and safely care for their patients, unfortunately and too many instances the care that their family member receives not only is disappointing, but actually harmful.

And alarmingly long list of negligence and other liability judgments as well as oversight and enforcement work by the Department of Health and Human Services, States’ department of aging, watchdog agencies, nursing home litigators reveal commonly recurring problems account for many of these tragedies   Problems range from overmedicating residents, or patient abuse or neglect. 

Patients and their families need to recognize the need to carefully select and oversee the care of their family member in these facilities   Many resources are available to help educate family members and friends search as this YouTube video about nursing home abuse recently shared by the Department of Health and Human Services.  

Careful investigation and credentialing at the facilities your love will stay in before and during their stay is an important part of the process.  No matter how good the facility looks in this credentialing, families and caregivers and patient must keep in mind that even the best facilities can experience problems of neglect, unawareness, miscommunication, miss perception and even abuse.  For this reason, families should keep in mind that frequent visits from family members and other visitors familiar with and loyal to the patient at different times can make a huge difference in helping the patient to get the best care possible, identifying potential issues services or quality and detecting more quickly service disruptions or deficiencies, changes in their family members conditions that need attention, signs of abuse or neglect and other concerns.

To learn more about what you and your family can do to be more effective participants in your healthcare and help improve health care for others, follow, share input and resources and get involved in our Project COPE initiative by following and sharing our updates in this ProjectCOPE.blog, on Facebook @ProjectCOPECOALITION or on LinkedIn.

Call To Action: Become a Project COPE Healthcare Hero

Despite an endless stream of well-meaning market and governmental reforms over the past 25 years, the U.S. health care system is in crisis. American patients, their families and other caregivers, their employers, their health benefit programs, their health care providers, the communities and even our federal health care budget increasingly are burdened and overwhelmed by the mounting obstacles to caring for our ill, disabled, and aging citizens within our health care system and the extraordinary expense of maintaining and using that system. 

 As Congress takes up reform again, it is critical that Americans act to protect their own and their families’ health care and control the financial burdens of health care by getting informed, providing clear and consistent direction to Congress and other reformers and taking other actions to empower and care for themselves and their loved ones within our evolving health care system.
©2017 Cynthia Marcotte Stamer. Non-exclusive right to republish licensed to Solutions Law Press, Inc. For information about republication of this or other materials and programs of the author, email the author here. All rights reserved.