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CRS — Table Egg Production and Hen Welfare: Agreement and Legislative Proposals

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Table Egg Production and Hen Welfare: Agreement and Legislative Proposals/strong> (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

The United Egg Producers (UEP), the largest group representing egg producers, and the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), the largest animal protection group, have been adversaries for many years over the use of conventional cages in table egg production. In July 2011, the animal agriculture community was stunned when the UEP and HSUS announced that they had agreed to work together to push for federal legislation to regulate how U.S. table eggs are produced. The agreement between UEP and HSUS called for federal legislation that would set cage sizes, establish labeling requirements, and regulate other production practices. As part of the agreement, HSUS agreed to immediately suspend state-level ballot initiative efforts in Oregon and Washington.

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CRS — Bee Health: Background and Issues for Congress (updated)

April 17, 2014 Comments off

Bee Health: Background and Issues for Congress (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via National Agricultural Law Center)

Bees, both commercially managed honey bees and wild bees, play an important role in global food production. In the United States alone, the value of insect pollination to U.S. agricultural production is estimated at $16 billion annually, of which about three-fourths is attributable to honey bees. Worldwide, the contribution of bees and other insects to global crop production for human food is valued at about $190 billion. Given the importance of honey bees and other bee species to food production, many have expressed concern about whether a “pollinator crisis” has been occurring in recent decades.

New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research (2014)

April 16, 2014 Comments off

New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research (2014)
Source: National Research Council

Each year, child protective services receive reports of child abuse and neglect involving six million children, and many more go unreported. The long-term human and fiscal consequences of child abuse and neglect are not relegated to the victims themselves — they also impact their families, future relationships, and society. In 1993, the National Research Council (NRC) issued the report, Understanding Child Abuse and Neglect, which provided an overview of the research on child abuse and neglect. New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research updates the 1993 report and provides new recommendations to respond to this public health challenge. According to this report, while there has been great progress in child abuse and neglect research, a coordinated, national research infrastructure with high-level federal support needs to be established and implemented immediately.

New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research recommends an actionable framework to guide and support future child abuse and neglect research. This report calls for a comprehensive, multidisciplinary approach to child abuse and neglect research that examines factors related to both children and adults across physical, mental, and behavioral health domains–including those in child welfare, economic support, criminal justice, education, and health care systems–and assesses the needs of a variety of subpopulations. It should also clarify the causal pathways related to child abuse and neglect and, more importantly, assess efforts to interrupt these pathways. New Directions in Child Abuse and Neglect Research identifies four areas to look to in developing a coordinated research enterprise: a national strategic plan, a national surveillance system, a new generation of researchers, and changes in the federal and state programmatic and policy response.

SOI Tax Stats – Corporation Source Book: U.S. Total and Sectors Listing

April 16, 2014 Comments off

SOI Tax Stats – Corporation Source Book: U.S. Total and Sectors Listing
Source: Internal Revenue Service

The 2011 Corporation Source Book is now available on the IRS Tax Stats Webpages. This publication presents balance sheet, income statement, tax, and other selected items, by size of total assets for all returns with and without net income, and returns with net income only. Data tables are available by industrial groupings based upon the North American Industry Classification System (NAICS). Separate data tables are available for S corporations at the highest level of industry groupings. The Source Book contains over 700 Excel tables in separately grouped zip files.

DOL A to Z — Learn About the Labor Department

April 16, 2014 Comments off

DOL A to Z — Learn About the Labor Department
Source: U.S. Department of Labor

Learn about the Labor Department, break through the jargon and the acronyms and explore our work. To learn more about words and phrase not listed below you can visit the A to Z Index.

Gender Differences in Primary Substance of Abuse across Age Groups

April 16, 2014 Comments off

Gender Differences in Primary Substance of Abuse across Age Groups
Source: Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration

+ In 2011, about 609,000 of the 1.84 million admissions to substance abuse treatment were female (33.1 percent), and 1.23 million were male (66.9 percent)
+ Compared with their male counterparts, a larger proportion of female admissions aged 12 to 17 reported alcohol as their primary substance of abuse (21.7 vs. 10.5 percent)
+ Marijuana as the primary substance of abuse was less common among female than male admissions aged 12 to 17 (60.8 vs. 80.7 percent) and 18 to 24 (22.1 vs. 33.4 percent)
+ Within the 65 or older age group, the proportion of female admissions reporting primary abuse of prescription pain relievers (e.g., oxycodone) was nearly 3 times that of their male counterparts (7.2 vs. 2.8 percent)

CRS — Health Benefits for Members of Congress and Certain Congressional Staff (updated)

April 16, 2014 Comments off

Health Benefits for Members of Congress and Certain Congressional Staff (PDF)
Source: Congressional Research Service (via University of North Texas Digital Library)

The federal government, as an employer, offers health benefits to its employees, including Members of Congress and congressional staff. Prior to 2014, Members and staff had access to many of the same health benefits as other federal employees. For example, Members and staff were eligible to voluntarily enroll in employer-sponsored health insurance through the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program (FEHBP), and they could choose to participate in other health benefit programs, such as the Federal Flexible Spending Account Program (FSAFEDS).

New From the GAO

April 15, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Reports
Source: Government Accountability Office

1. NASA: Assessments of Selected Large-Scale Projects. GAO-14-338SP, April 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-338SP
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662572.pdf

2. National Environmental Policy Act: Little Information Exists on NEPA Analyses. GAO-14-369, April 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-369
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662544.pdf

3. National Environmental Policy Act: Little Information Exists on NEPA Analyses. GAO-14-370, April 15.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-370
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/662548.pdf

Acupuncture Research – Areas of High and Low Programmatic Priorities

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Acupuncture Research – Areas of High and Low Programmatic Priorities
Source: National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine

On this page:

  • Published Research
  • Areas of High Programmatic Priority
  • Areas of Low Programmatic Priority
  • NCCAM Contact Information
  • Selected References

New: Residential Building Electrical Fires (2009-2011)

April 15, 2014 Comments off

New: Residential Building Electrical Fires (2009-2011) (PDF)
Source: U.S. Fire Administration

Findings from this report:

  • An estimated 25,900 residential building electrical fires were reported to fire departments within the United States each year. These fires caused an estimated 280 deaths, 1,125 injuries and $1.1 billion in property loss.
  • Residential building electrical fires resulted in greater dollar loss per fire than residential building nonelectrical fires.
  • In 79 percent of residential building electrical fires, the fire spread beyond the object where the fire started.
  • The leading items most often first ignited in residential building electrical fires were electrical wire/cable insulation (30 percent) and structural member or framing (19 percent).

HHS OIG — Limited Compliance With Medicare’s Home Health Face to Face Documentation Requirements

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Limited Compliance With Medicare’s Home Health Face to Face Documentation Requirements
Source: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of Inspector General

WHY WE DID THIS STUDY
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires that physicians (or certain practitioners working with them) who certify beneficiaries as eligible for Medicare home health services document-as a condition of payment for home health services-that face-to-face encounters with those beneficiaries occurred. This study (1) determined the extent to which physicians who certified home health care documented the face-to-face encounters, (2) described the nature of face-to-face documentation, and (3) assessed CMS’s oversight of the face-to-face requirement.

HOW WE DID THIS STUDY
We reviewed 644 face-to-face encounter documents to analyze the extent to which the documents confirmed encounters and contained the required elements. We interviewed the four Home Health and Hospice Medicare Administrative Contractors (HH MACs) to describe how they ensure that home health agencies met the face-to-face encounter requirements. We also reviewed guidance documents and policies from CMS or the HH MACs about monitoring the face-to-face requirement.

WHAT WE FOUND
For 32 percent of home health claims that required face-to-face encounters, the documentation did not meet Medicare requirements, resulting in $2 billion in payments that should not have been made. Furthermore, physicians inconsistently completed the narrative portion of the face to face documentation. Some face-to-face documents provide information that, although not required by Medicare, could be useful, such as a printed name for the physician and a list of the home health services needed. CMS oversight of the face-to-face requirement is minimal.

WHAT WE RECOMMEND
We recommend that CMS (1) consider requiring a standardized form to ensure that physicians include all elements required for the face-to-face documentation, (2) develop a specific strategy to communicate directly with physicians about the face-to-face requirement, and (3) develop other oversight mechanisms for the face-to-face requirement. CMS concurred with all of our recommendations.

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Commander’s Legal Handbook 2013

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Commander’s Legal Handbook 2013 (PDF)
Source: Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center and School, United States Army

This Handbook is designed to assist you in taking proper immediate action when faced with a variety of legal issues that might arise during your command. The purpose of your actions should be to preserve the legal situation until you can consult with your servicing Judge Advocate. However, like most aspects of your command responsibilities, you can fail if you just wait for things to come to you. You need to be proactive in preventing problems before they occur.

In the legal arena, this means establishing and enforcing high standards, ensuring your Soldiers are fully aware of those standards and properly trained to comply with them. You must also properly train your Soldiers on all Army policies and higher level command standards so that they also understand and comply with them. Soldiers must also be well-versed in the Army Values and be able to apply those values to real-world situations, which will usually keep them well within legal bounds.

All Soldiers have seen issues in the news that can occur when we are not proactive about discipline and standards: Abuse of prisoners, desecration of corpses, hazing, and sexual assault to name recent examples. All of these circumstances present serious legal issues. But, fundamentally, they also represent a breakdown in unit standards, training, and discipline. Your objective as a Commander should be to develop solid systems and a command climate that prevents legal issues, rather than just reacting to them. In sum, it is every bit as important to train your Soldiers to maintain a high level of discipline and compliance with law, policy, and military standards, as it is to train them to perform your Mission Essential Task List (METL). In legal circles, we call this effort to prevent legal problems before they arise by properly training Soldiers, “preventive law.” The responsibility to practice preventive law belongs to the Commander.

See also: 2013 Fiscal Law Deskbook (PDF)
See also: Military Citation Guide (PDF)

Out-of-Pocket Net Price for College

April 15, 2014 Comments off

Out-of-Pocket Net Price for College
Source: National Center for Education Statistics

This Data Point uses data from four administrations of the National Postsecondary Student Aid Study (NPSAS:2000, NPSAS:04, NPSAS:08, and NPSAS:12) to briefly present trends in out-of-pocket net price for college, the amount that students and their families must pay to attend college after subtracting grants, loans, work-study, and all other student aid from the total price of attendance. It also presents out-of-pocket net price by income levels for the most recent data available (2011-12). For comparability, findings are presented for undergraduates attending full time for a full year and also trends are presented separately for key institution types (public 2-year, public 4-year, private nonprofit 4-year, and for-profit institutions).

Competition in lending and credit ratings

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Competition in lending and credit ratings
Source: Federal Reserve Board

This article relates corporate credit rating quality to competition in lending between the public bond market and banks. In the model, the monopolistic rating agency’s choice of price and quality leads to an endogenous threshold separating low-quality bank-dependent issuers from higher-quality issuers with access to public debt. In a baseline equilibrium with expensive bank lending, this separation across debt market segments provides information, but equilibrium ratings are uninformative. A positive shock to private (bank) relative to public lending supply allows banks to compete with public lenders for high-quality issuers, which threatens rating agency profits, and informative ratings result to prevent defection of high-quality borrowers to banks. This prediction is tested by analyzing two events that increased the relative supply of private vs. public lending sharply: legislation in 1994 that reduced barriers to interstate bank lending and the temporary shutdown of the high-yield bond market in 1989. After each event, the quality of ratings (based on their impact on bond yield spreads) increased for affected issuers. The analysis suggests that strategic behavior by the rating agency in an issuer-pays setting dampens the influence of macroeconomic shocks, and explains the use of informative unsolicited credit ratings to prevent unrated bond issues, particularly during good times. Additionally, the controversial issuer-pays model of ratings leads to more efficient outcomes than investor-pays alternatives.

Lost and Found: Understanding Technologies Used to Locate Missing Persons with Alzheimer’s or Dementia

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Lost and Found: Understanding Technologies Used to Locate Missing Persons with Alzheimer’s or Dementia (PDF)
Source: Bureau of Justice Assistance

Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia affect not only those who are living with the disease; these afflictions also impact the caregivers, law enforcement, and even neighbors. As the disease progresses, physical and mental capabilities are negatively impacted, short-term memory loss increases, and a person with Alzheimer’s might begin living in the past. As the person attempts to return to former places of employment or residences, they often get lost and need assistance returning to where they are currently residing. It is never possible to predict if or when a person with Alzheimer’s will wander or be unable to navigate familiar routes. Initiating a search for a person with Alzheimer’s can never be delayed, and conducting such searches can prove to be costly and consume extreme amounts of agency resources. It is crucial for law enforcement officers and other first responders to be familiar with and understand the signs of dementia and be aware of passive identification products used to identify persons with Alzheimer’s. In addition to passive identification techniques, there are technologies and products available that can be used to actively locate an individual who is lost.

Cellular location techniques and Global Positioning System devices are examples of proven methods for aiding law enforcement in a search for a missing person with dementia. This document will provide a technical description of these technologies and outline some of the advantages and disadvantages when employing these products. It will also provide comprehensive lists of locating devices that are currently available. Provided in each section is a short technical description of the technology and its advantages and the disadvantages. Appendix I and Appendix II provide a list of passive and active locating devices currently available.

Occupational Outlook Quarterly — Spring 2014

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Occupational Outlook Quarterly — Spring 2014
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics
Articles include:

  • STEM 101: Intro to tomorrow’s jobs
  • Careers with options: Occupations with jobs in many industries
  • Healthcare: Millions of jobs now and in the future
  • My career: Veterinary technician
  • Brief items of interest to counselors and students
  • You’re a what? Roastmaster
  • More education, less unemployment

CBO — Updated Budget Projections: 2014 to 2024

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Updated Budget Projections: 2014 to 2024 (PDF)
Source: Congressional Budget Office

As it usually does each spring, CBO has updated the baseline budget projections that it released earlier in the year. CBO now estimates that if the current laws that govern federal taxes and spending do not change, the budget deficit in fiscal year 2014 will be $492 billion. Relative to the size of the economy, that deficit—at 2.8 percent of gross domestic product (GDP)—will be nearly a third less than the $680 billion shortfall in fiscal year 2013, which was equal to 4.1 percent of GDP. This will be the fifth consecutive year in which the deficit has declined as a share of GDP since peaking at 9.8 percent in 2009 (see the figure below).

Payment Choice and the Future of Currency: Insights from Two Billion Retail Transactions

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Payment Choice and the Future of Currency: Insights from Two Billion Retail Transactions
Source: Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond

This paper uses transaction-level data from a large discount chain together with zip-code-level explanatory variables to learn about consumer payment choices across size of transaction, location, and time. With three years of data from thousands of stores across the country, we identify important economic and demographic effects; weekly, monthly, and seasonal cycles in payments, as well as time trends and significant state-level variation that is not accounted for by the explanatory variables. We use the estimated model to forecast how the mix of consumer payments will evolve and to forecast future demand for currency. Our estimates based on this large retailer, together with forecasts for the explanatory variables, lead to a benchmark prediction that the cash share of retail sales will decline by 2.54 percentage points per year over the next several years.

CBO — Updated Estimates of the Effects of the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, April 2014

April 14, 2014 Comments off

Updated Estimates of the Effects of the Insurance Coverage Provisions of the Affordable Care Act, April 2014
Source: Congressional Budget Office

CBO and the staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) have updated their estimates of the budgetary effects of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) that relate to health insurance coverage. The new estimates, which are included in CBO’s latest baseline projections, reflect CBO’s most recent economic forecast, account for administrative actions taken and regulations issued through March 2014, and incorporate new data and various modeling updates.

Relative to their previous projections made in February 2014, CBO and JCT now estimate that the ACA’s coverage provisions will result in lower net costs to the federal government: The agencies currently project a net cost of $36 billion for 2014, $5 billion less than the previous projection for the year; and $1,383 billion for the 2015–2024 period, $104 billion less than the previous projections (see the figure below).

New From the GAO

April 14, 2014 Comments off

New GAO Report
Source: Government Accountability Office

Petroleum Refining: Industry’s Outlook Depends on Market Changes and Key Environmental Regulations. GAO-14-249, March 14.
http://www.gao.gov/products/GAO-14-249
Highlights - http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661714.pdf

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