I have never been to Des Moines, Iowa, before. I am here this week at the Downtown Marriott attending the IAIABC Forum 2013 Conference, and I have to say this is one rockin' place. On the hotel shuttle ride in from the airport Monday, we passed a Burger King near the hotel that had a huge promotional message painted in it's front window. That message? “Now Open On Saturdays!”

Wow. When your Burger King starts opening on Saturdays, you know you have hit the big time in hip and urban coolness.  

To be entirely fair, this is a pretty clean and attractive downtown. It is a quiet and reserved place, and until this week I had no idea what a presence the insurance industry has here. Dubbed the third largest insurance capital of the world, this “Hartford of the Midwest” has an impressive roster representing the industry. There are major offices for a variety of companies, including a huge Nationwide Insurance complex that houses their Agribusiness unit, as well as a large corporate office for Wellmark Blue Cross Blue Shield. There are also offices for EMC Insurance Companies, Wells Fargo, ING Group, Marsh, and more. 

I should have had a clue about this. We have a number of customers here. Nationwide Agribusiness has many subscribers to our WorkCompResearch Compliance Library, and I knew they were based in Des Moines. I just never imagined it was such an impressive base. 

So it is perhaps fitting that the IAIABC is meeting here as they continue to address and discuss issues critical to the workers’ compensation industry. For the uninitiated, IAIABC is the International Association of Industrial Accident Boards and Commissions, and their membership is comprised of numerous regulatory agencies from across the US and Canada, as well as around the world. Many corporations also belong to the organization, and are actively involved in the plethora of committee work performed here. In fact, the IAIABC is likely the only international group where public and private sectors coordinate closely in the art of shaping policy and procedure for our industry’s future. 

The topics here will sound familiar. Of course, EDI, a mainstay of IAIABC efforts, is a topic of many meetings and agendas. Medical issues are also at the forefront here, covering a broad range of territory from implementing Treatment Guidelines to utilization of Prescription Drug Monitoring Programs.

And there is, of course, the topic of Opioids. Many will remember the recent actions of the IAIABC Executive Committee, when they unexpectedly failed to approve model opioid rules drafted by the groups Medical Committee. The EC came back on that issue, promising a paper on the subject. As promised, a draft version of that paper does now exist, and is being circulated here within the Medical Committee for review. The debate on this is sure to continue, and what the final product or result will be is far from certain. I continue to urge the IAIABC to lead on this very important topic. I sense, however, that for the organization it will be an opportunity lost, and other groups will be seen as taking the lead in combatting abuse of opioid prescription drugs. 

With the knowledge and experience of the people currently in meeting rooms all around me, that simply should not be. Time will tell.

In the meantime, however, I will enjoy my remaining time in this midwest insurance oasis known as Des Moines. Almost unbelievably, it is supposed to be snowing tomorrow morning as I make my way to the airport. I doubt it will be bad enough to strand me here, but no worries if it does. 

After all, Burger King is now open on Saturdays. How bad could a delay here be?  

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