July | August 2017



Ohio Takes on Workers’ Comp Fraud

Ohio state government has invested in efforts to tackle workers’ compensation fraud and it is paying off. The Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s Special Investigations Department has identified $55 million in savings during the past year through increased staffing and new tools, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
During the past year, the division referred 236 cases for prosecution, resulting in 134 indictments and 140 convictions.
The $55 million in savings to the agency last year was down slightly from the previous year, when the division identified $59 million in fraudulent activity, but the division showed gains in several important categories, including prosecuting those who fraudulently received workers’ compensation benefits.
Special agents and criminal investigators were hired to help in the effort. Additionally, the division’s digital forensics unit doubled the amount of data it was able to analyze from a variety of devices, including computers, laptops, servers, iPads, smartphones and even social media.
More than half of the $55 million in savings—$30.2 million—resulted from cases of individual workers wrongfully collecting benefits. Meanwhile, $11.9 million in savings came from fraud committed by health care providers, including doctors, hospitals, pharmacies and managed care providers.
Other areas of workers’ compensation fraud activity that resulted in savings to the agency include employer-committed fraud, which generated $3.5 million in savings, and prescription drug abuse by workers and healthcare providers, which led to $9.5 million in savings.
According to an official from the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation, every dollar spent on investigating allegations of fraud results in $5 in saving to the agency.
Gun Safety
After Illinois legislators passed a new concealed carry law in July, some gun shop owners say they are not seeing a boom in gun sales, but rather a spike in interest in firearm safety classes, the Quad City Times reported. Illinois became the last state in the country to allow residents to carry concealed firearms.
Charter Schools
A growing number of Michigan’s students are enrolling in charter schools, The Detroit Newsreported in July. Charter school enrollment has increased more than 500 percent since the mid-1990s, while enrollment in traditional schools has declined. Thirty-seven new charter schools will open across the state this fall, The Detroit News reported.
Kansas’ state’s prisons have reached capacity, and agency officials anticipate more than 2,000 additional offenders will enter the system within the next two decades, The Wichita Eaglereported in July. About one-third of newly released inmates in Kansas will return to prison within three years, the Eagle reported. Department of Corrections Secretary Ray Roberts said programs and policies to reduce recidivism rates are critical to avoid significant increases in state spending for new prison bed space.
Minnesota’s unemployment rate continues to drop, according to the Brainerd Dispatch. The jobless rate in June was 5.2 percent, down 0.1 percent from May. Despite a loss of 2,100 government jobs in June, the state experienced overall job growth due to the addition of 2,500 private sector positions. In the past year, Minnesota has experienced a 2 percent job growth rate. The state now has recovered 95 percent of the jobs lost during the recession, the Dispatch reported.
Raw Milk Regulations
Raw milk producers and consumers in South Dakota have asked state officials to reject proposed regulations they say would make it too expensive and too difficult to produce and sell unpasteurized milk, the Rapid City Journalreported. The South Dakota Agriculture Department has proposed new standards for the production, testing and labeling of raw milk offered for sale. The proposed regulations, if approved, would apply to raw or unpasteurized milk from cows, sheep, goats and other hoofed animals.