Archive for the ‘government and politics’ Category

HHS OIG — Ensuring the Integrity of Medicare Part D

July 16, 2015 Comments off

Ensuring the Integrity of Medicare Part D
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

In the 9 years since Part D began, OIG has produced a wide range of investigations, audits, evaluations, and legal guidance related to Part D program integrity. This work has resulted in the prosecution of individuals accused of defrauding Part D, as well as the identification of systemic program vulnerabilities that raise concerns related to both inappropriate payments and quality of care. OIG has made recommendations to strengthen Part D program integrity, and progress has been made. However, Part D remains vulnerable to fraud, as evidenced by ongoing investigations. OIG has prepared this portfolio to document key progress in addressing Part D program vulnerabilities and to highlight issues that need improvement.

See also: Questionable Billing and Geographic Hotspots Point to Potential Fraud and Abuse in Medicare Part D

U.S.-Cuba Agricultural Trade: Past, Present and Possible Future

July 16, 2015 Comments off

U.S.-Cuba Agricultural Trade: Past, Present and Possible Future
Source: USDA Economic Research Service

In December 2014, the United States announced that it would implement executive actions designed to ease the restrictions on trade, remittances, and travel with Cuba. This report explores the potential implications for U.S. agricultural exports.

Air Base Attacks and Defensive Counters: Historical Lessons and Future Challenges

July 16, 2015 Comments off

Air Base Attacks and Defensive Counters: Historical Lessons and Future Challenges
Source: RAND Corporation

Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. dominance in conventional power projection has allowed American airpower to operate from sanctuary, largely free from enemy attack. This led to a reduced emphasis on air-base defense measures and the misperception that sanctuary was the normal state of affairs rather than an aberration. The emergence of the long-range, highly accurate, conventional missile (both ballistic and cruise) as a threat to air bases is now widely recognized in the U.S. defense community, and, with that recognition, there is a growing appreciation that this era of sanctuary is coming to an end. Consequently, there is renewed interest in neglected topics, such as base hardening, aircraft dispersal, camouflage, deception, and air-base recovery and repair.

This report is intended to provide a reference on air-base attack and defense to inform public debate, as well as government deliberations, on what has become known as the anti-access problem, specifically as it applies to air-base operations. The report explores the history of air-base attacks in the past century and describes the American way of war that emerged after the fall of the Soviet Union. It then argues that emerging threat systems are disruptive to this way of war and will require new concepts of power projection. Finally, the report identifies five classes of defensive options that have proven valuable in past conflicts and offers recommendations on how best to win the battle of the airfields.

Legal Responses to Health Emergencies

July 15, 2015 Comments off

Legal Responses to Health Emergencies
Source: Law Library of Congress

This report contains discussions of the regulations addressing health emergencies in 25 jurisdictions, including countries from six continents, the European Union, and the World Health Organization. All surveys included in this report review government structures tasked with delivering public health protection, relevant legislative frameworks for addressing health emergencies, and the powers of government institutions in times of health crises and their ability to mitigate the consequences of such crises. Analyses of the regulation of such issues as disease surveillance and notification systems are also provided.

One Nation, Under Sedation: Medicare Paid for Nearly 40 Million Tranquilizer Prescriptions in 2013

July 15, 2015 Comments off

One Nation, Under Sedation: Medicare Paid for Nearly 40 Million Tranquilizer Prescriptions in 2013
Source: Pro Publica

In 2012, Medicare’s massive prescription drug program didn’t spend a penny on popular tranquilizers such as Valium, Xanax and Ativan.

The following year, it doled out more than $377 million for the drugs.

While it might appear that an epidemic of anxiety swept the nation’s Medicare enrollees, the spike actually reflects a failed policy initiative by Congress.

More than a decade ago, when lawmakers created Medicare’s drug program, called Part D, they decided not to pay for anti-anxiety medications. Some of these drugs, known as benzodiazepines, had been linked to abuse and an increased risk of falls and fractures among the elderly, who make up most of the Medicare population.

But doctors didn’t stop prescribing the drugs to Medicare enrollees. Patients just found other ways to pay for them. When Congress later reversed the payment policy under pressure from patient groups and medical societies, it swiftly became clear that a huge swath of Medicare’s patients were already using the drugs despite the lack of coverage.

In 2013, the year Medicare started covering benzodiazepines, it paid for nearly 40 million prescriptions, a ProPublica analysis of recently released federal data shows. Generic versions of the drugs — alprazolam (which goes by the trade name of Xanax), lorazepam (Ativan) and clonazepam (Klonopin) — were among the top 32 most-prescribed medications in Medicare Part D that year.

Taxing Wealth

July 15, 2015 Comments off

Taxing Wealth
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Minneapolis

Some have proposed wealth taxation as a means of reducing economic inequality, but such proposals are premature. While economic theory and data measurement have solid grounding when analyzing other forms of taxation, such as income or sales taxes, this is not the case for wealth

Total estimates of the two most widely used measures of wealth, fixed assets and net worth, vary widely over the six decades for which data are available. Trend lines in these two wealth measures are rarely correlated. In addition, the relationship between the two—and explanation of why they differ so radically—remains a theoretical puzzle for economists. Given this state of affairs, accurate predictions for the impact, and design, of wealth taxation policies are not yet possible.

Sovereign Immunity for Public Airport Operations

July 15, 2015 Comments off

Sovereign Immunity for Public Airport Operations
Source: Transportation Research Board

TRB’s Airport Cooperative Research Program (ACRP) Legal Research Digest 24: Sovereign Immunity for Public Airport Operations examines sovereign immunity as it applies to public airports that are owned and operated by units of local government or regional governmental authorities. This report summarizes the extent of sovereign immunity granted to airports from state to state. Appendix A provides a table of cases, and Appendix B contains a chart of authorities.


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