Wednesday, November 18, 2015

ASHA Staff Meet Best-Selling Author John Elder Robison

Photograph compliments of Ben Sledge.
ASHA's diversity team planned a wonderful opportunity for ASHA staff today. They arranged for John Elder Robison, author of Look Me in the Eye, Be Different and Raising Cubby, to come in and talk with us about his experience growing up with an autism spectrum disorder. 

Mr. Robison stressed the importance of identifying children on the autism spectrum early and getting them services -- services that are most often provided by speech-language pathologists. He's a wonderful story teller and the time flew by as he talked while a slide show of his photographs played in the background.  

Thursday, October 22, 2015

Seeking Recognition as a Great Place to Work

Arlene Pietranton, Lisa Cole and I with Ron Friedman
at Washingtonian's Great Place to Work Event 10/22/15
Building your brand as an employer of choice goes a long way toward attracting talent. Seeking external recognition through an award program is an effective strategy for building your brand. Awards serve as external validation to potential candidates and some come with loads of free publicity. We don't count the resumes we receive, but companies that do report a 30% spike in the number of applicants they receive after being named to one of Fortune Magazine's lists. 

Once we attract these talented individuals, they stay. Our average tenure is 9.3 years at ASHA and our turnover runs half of the average in the DC metro area. Being deemed a great place to work enhances the pride we all feel in working at ASHA and that carries over to some degree to how our members feel about their professional organization. It enhances our sense of community.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Specialty Drug Management

Last week, I attended an excellent MidAtlantic Business Group on Health Meeting on Specialty Drugs. I suspect most benefit plan managers have been really paying attention to drug costs since the release of the new Hepatitis C medication that cost $84,000 per treatment. That led to fretting over the cost of the new PCSK9 treatment for high cholesterol -- $14,000 a year (compared to $600 for generic statins.) Then, we hear about a former hedge fund manager with more brains than ethics who bought up rights to an old drug and raised the price from $13.50 a tablet to $750 a tablet overnight. (If you missed that story, see the links below.) No surprise, that this was the best attended MidAtlantic Business Group on Health meeting I've seen.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Sitting Won't Get the Better of Us! -- Standing Desk Update

Our colleagues, Mike Schmidt and Kevin Brooks are busy installing our new standing desks. We purchased the Ergotron standing desk. (We got better pricing purchasing in bulk.) The Ergotron works well with our current furniture and it's easy to raise and lower. The feedback from staff members that have been set up so far is very positive. 

Once the installation is complete, we'll have Zack, our ergonomics expert, come in and help people make adjustments. We've created a waiting list for people that want one now that they've seen them. We eventually hope to accommodate everyone that wants a standing desk. I know can't wait to get mine. 

Do you want to make the case for standing desks in your workplace? If so, check out the collection of articles we've put together. We used many of them when we pitched the idea here. 

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Communication Evolution -- ASHA in the News

We're on the cover of Employee Benefit News! Last December, Vlad Gyster at Airbo asked me if I'd be interested in talking with Andrea Davis at Employee Benefit News (EBN) for a story she was working on for their January issue about communicating with millennials. Andrea and I talked and then EBN sent a photographer out to our office. He did a whole photo shoot with millennial ASHA staffers and our HR team. Then, the January issue came out and we weren't in it. Bummer. Well, lo and behold, out comes the September issue and we're on the cover. You'll find the story on page sixteen.

When you're interviewed for a story like this, you never know how you'll come across. (I've had a garbled quote or two attributed to me in the past.) Nick Otto wrote a good story and I'm pleased that ASHA has been recognized for trying to communicate with staff in an engaging way. That's something that is near and dear to my heart.

Friday, August 21, 2015

Cadillac Tax Notice 2015-52 and Related Ramblings

[I recommend reading my Cadillac Tax Primer that includes information about developing a Glide Path to limbo under the tax before reading this post.]  

Most of the ACA focused on increasing the number of American's with access to health care, but the Cadillac Tax (aka Excise Tax) has a dual purpose. First the obvious, it helps pay for the expansion of coverage. It's expected to raise 87 billion. It's also expected that employers will shift benefit dollars into wages and that people will lose deductions for health care expenses that will raise another 202 billion. 

When I last blogged about the Cadillac Tax, I didn't understand this last item. It's noted in the Congressional Office Budget Report as "other which consists mainly of the effects of changes in taxable compensation on revenues." As I was reading the most recent IRS Notice, it clicked. The ACA isn't just banking on the revenue from the tax which most employers are planning to avoid, it's banking on the increased revenue that will come from the moves employers take to avoid the tax that result in increased taxable income to Americans. For example, if an employer eliminates and FSA that an employee has been putting $2,500 a year into that $2,500 becomes taxable income. 

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Finding the Safest Care

We have a new tool to help us find a good doctor -- The Surgeon ScorecardOf course, hospital safety matters and I've blogged about that before, but when it comes to elective operations, it is more important to select the best surgeon. The new scorecard covers common elective procedures -- knee replacement, hip replacement, gallbladder removal, lumbar spinal fusion, prostate resection, prostate removal and cervical spinal fusion.