Archive for the ‘ethics’ Category

Health care fraud and abuse enforcement: Relationship scrutiny

July 17, 2015 Comments off

Health care fraud and abuse enforcement: Relationship scrutiny
Source: Deloitte

Where is fraud and abuse enforcement headed in health care? One emerging area of interest is relationship scrutiny. Relationships can be complex in the business of health care: tracking and analyzing them is an important part of minimizing the fraud and abuse that may result from questionable relationships and improper influence.

Many organizations depend on analytics to understand their own performance. Insights and patterns within the data are often used to inform strategy and decision making. Researchers can apply analytics to identify external trends and factors that may impact businesses. To that end, Deloitte researchers used analytics techniques to examine the text of tens of thousands of federal regulations and identify emerging trends in health care fraud and abuse enforcement. The results are telling: Federal health care regulators are emphasizing relationship scrutiny in their fraud and abuse enforcement efforts. Also, discussion of health care fraud and abuse topics – including relationship scrutiny – is recurring, as evidenced by the cyclical rise and fall in frequency and relevance of keyword groups related to “enforcement,” “value-based care,” and “fraud and abuse.” The bottom line: discussion of these topics is present; relationship scrutiny is likely here to stay.

Ethical Issues in the Big Data Industry

July 2, 2015 Comments off

Ethical Issues in the Big Data Industry (PDF)
Source: MIS Quarterly Executive (forthcoming)

Big Data combines information from diverse sources to create knowledge, make better predictions and tailor services. This article analyzes Big Data as an industry, not a technology, and identifies the ethical issues it faces. These issues arise from reselling consumers’ data to the secondary market for Big Data. Remedies for the issues are proposed, with the goal of fostering a sustainable Big Data Industry.

DoD OIG — DoD Cardholders Used Their Government Travel Cards for Personal Use at Casinos and Adult Entertainment Establishments

June 24, 2015 Comments off

DoD Cardholders Used Their Government Travel Cards for Personal Use at Casinos and Adult Entertainment Establishments (PDF)
Source: U.S. Department of Defense, Office of Inspector General

Our objective was to determine whether DoD Government travel charge card holders used their card for personal use at casinos or adult entertainment establishments. Public Law 112-194, “Government Charge Card Abuse Prevention Act of 2012,” requires the Inspector General of each executive agency with more than $10 million in travel card spending to periodically audit or review travel card programs. We focused on individually billed travel cards. Cardholders are personally and financially liable for payment of all undisputed charges, including personal use, indicated on the billing statement, not the government.

DoD cardholders improperly used their Government travel charge card (GTCC) for personal use at casinos and adult entertainment establishments. From July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2014, DoD cardholders had 4,437 transactions totaling $952,258, where they likely used their travel cards at casinos for personal use and had 900 additional transactions for $96,576 at adult entertainment establishments. Specifically, we reviewed seven nonstatistically selected cardholders who had 76 transactions valued at $19,643 to confirm that our analysis identified personal use at casinos and adult entertainment establishments from July 1, 2013, to June 30, 2014.

Corruption — still a major problem in several Western Balkan countries

June 16, 2015 Comments off

Corruption — still a major problem in several Western Balkan countries
Source: European Parliamentary Think Tank

The United Nations’ 2003 Convention against Corruption (UNCAC) starts by noting that corruption ‘undermines democracy and the rule of law, leads to violations of human rights, distorts markets, erodes the quality of life and allows organized crime, terrorism and other threats to human security to flourish’. To a varying extent, all countries are susceptible to the phenomenon of corruption (EU Member States not excluded). Factors such as social and economic development, political background and culture, among others, define how deep rooted it is in a given state. The Western Balkans (WB) is a region with a history of corrupt practices, one usually perceived as vulnerable to corruption. With the exception of Kosovo,* all countries from the Western Balkans – Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Montenegro and Serbia – are parties to UNCAC. Without exception, they are faced with widespread corruption – one of the key challenges as regards their aspirations for European integration. They have each made different progress towards EU membership, but share similar difficulties in the fight against corruption. Notwithstanding the assistance from the EU in the framework of the enlargement process, the results they have achieved so far have similarly been assessed as limited. * This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo Declaration of Independence.

Lending Discrimination, the Foreclosure Crisis and the Perpetuation of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Homeownership in the U.S.

June 5, 2015 Comments off

Lending Discrimination, the Foreclosure Crisis and the Perpetuation of Racial and Ethnic Disparities in Homeownership in the U.S.
Source: William & Mary Business Law Review

For decades the agencies charged with minding the ‘fair credit and lending’ shop turned a blind eye to those (lenders) who pilfered minority homeownership (and consequently minority wealth) by extending mortgage lending products that were, in many cases, unequal to similarly situated non-minority counterparts. Since the 1950s, when the federal government endorsed homeownership policies for minorities, and the 1960s, when antidiscriminatory D9lending laws were enacted, access to fair mortgage credit has been unattainable. Unbridled lending discrimination culminated in massive foreclosures for a disproportionate number of minority homeowners during the Housing and Foreclosure Crisis. Lenders disparately foreclosed upon upper class, middle class and lower class minority homeowners. The effect of these foreclosures widened homeownership gaps between whites and minorities. Foreclosures were more prevalent for minority homeowners regardless of economic class. Lending discrimination, and subsequent forfeiture of homes, undoubtedly altered the perception of the American Dream, and resulted in losses of generational wealth for minorities, furthered racial segregation and prolonged the stagnancy of the real estate market. Unquestionably then, lending discrimination is not a minority problem, but is an American problem. Therefore, agencies with jurisdiction to enforce lending and credit laws must, first, duly enforce these laws and, second, create civil or criminal mechanisms that effectively and finally eliminate unfair lending.

The Neuroscience of Gaming: Workshop in Brief

May 30, 2015 Comments off

The Neuroscience of Gaming: Workshop in Brief (via NCBI Bookshelf)
Source: Institute of Medicine

More than 1.2 billion people worldwide play video games (online, via console, mobile phone, and other wireless devices), and many may be unaware that programmers often incorporate neuroscience into game design. Given the high prevalence of gaming in today’s society, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) Forum on Neuroscience and Nervous System Disorders hosted the Social Issues Roundtable at the Society for Neuroscience annual meeting on November 16, 2014, in Washington, DC, to explore the neuroscience of video games, with emphasis on relevant scientific, ethical, and societal issues. Jonathan Moreno, David and Lyn Silfen University Professor in the Department of Medical Ethics and Health Policy at the University of Pennsylvania Health System, and session moderator, noted the following objectives of the session:

1.Explore the use of neuroscience concepts in video game design, including (a) key structural features of gaming that are derived from neuroscience concepts, and (b) the physiological effects of gaming as a result of the game’s structural characteristics (e.g., reward circuitry);

2.Discuss the positive and negative uses of neuroscience in video games;

3.Review the utility of gaming and opportunities in education, training, rehabilitation, and health;

4.Discuss the adverse consequences of problematic gaming, including (a) similarities of problematic gaming to other addictive behaviors (e.g., substance use), and (b) individual characteristics that may make a gamer at risk for problematic gaming; and

5.Consider the ethical and societal underpinnings of the use of neuroscience in gaming design for developers and gamers.

The discussions highlighted the critical need for improved, evidence-based studies to comprehensively assess risks and benefits of video games, noted Moreno. In addition, a few panelists discussed the potential to create regulatory pathways for combination therapies using video games that have been shown to be efficacious in the health sector. However, several panelists asserted that the ethical and societal implications of video games should be examined closely, given the potential side effects and consequences (intended and unintended) of video games to players.

All the President’s Psychologists

April 30, 2015 Comments off

All the President’s Psychologists (PDF)

Lead authors:
Stephen Soldz, Ph.D.
Nathaniel Raymond
Steven Reisner, Ph.D.

Scott A. Allen, M.D. 
Isaac L. Baker
Allen S. Keller, M.D.

Jean Maria Arrigo, Ph.D.

This report analyzes emails from the accounts of deceased RAND Corporation researcher and apparent CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) contractor Mr. Scott Gerwehr.1 Sixteen emails were selected for detailed analysis from a larger collection of 638 emails that were obtained by Mr. James Risen, author of Pay Any Price and a reporter for the New York Times. The emails were provided to the authors for analysis with the approval of the original sources of the emails, and with the agreement that only those selected as most relevant to the scope of the report would be released. All 638 emails were reviewed by the authors.

No findings of this report were in any way contradicted by the emails not included. The time frame of the emails analyzed in this report spans 2003 to 2006. (See more on methods and sources of data in Appendix I.) This report also includes publicly available information obtained from a variety of sources including the American Psychological Association’s website, released government documents, and reports in the media

Emails were selected for detailed analysis because they are evidence of the George W. Bush Administration’s integral role in shaping American Psychological Association (APA) ethics policy on psychologist participation in national security interrogations after September 11, 2001. Other emails were chosen because they either conflict with or contradict past public statements made by APA officials, as well as disclose new information related to this issue that the APA appears to have concealed. (See Appendix II for all primary source emails cited in this report.)

Based on analysis of the Gerwehr emails and reference to related open source documents, the authors note five key findings related to the APA:

1. The APA secretly coordinated with officials from the CIA, White House, and the Department of Defense to create an APA ethics policy on national security interrogations that comported with then­classified legal guidance authorizing the CIA torture program.

2. A US government research scientist, who had recently served as President Bush’s behavioral science advisor, is reported to have secretly drafted “language related to research” inserted by APA officials into the 2005 APA ethics policy on interrogations. While the exact language of the alleged contribution is not known, the section on research aligned that policy with the then­-classified Bradbury “torture memos.” The Bradbury memos directed health professionals to research and assess the supposed safety, efficacy, and health impacts of the “enhanced” interrogation techniques. The memos were introduced at a time when CIA Office of Medical Services (OMS) personnel were protesting the expanded involvement of health professionals in helping determine the legality of the techniques.

3. The APA had numerous contacts with CIA contract psychologists Drs. James Mitchell and Bruce Jessen starting in at least 2003, including contacts related to interrogation techniques; at least one senior APA official was informed of their clandestine role at the CIA related to interrogations; yet APA has consistently denied such contacts.

4. APA did not disclose Dr. James Mitchell’s past APA membership when it released its 2007 statement in response to journalists’ revelations regarding Mitchell’s role in abusive interrogations. Nor did APA include such information in its letter to the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists in 2010; APA staff sought to obscure past contacts with the CIA and with Mitchell and Jessen and their firm, Mitchell Jessen and Associates.

5. Despite substantial contact between the APA, the White House and CIA officials, including the over 600 emails noted in this report, there is no evidence that any APA official expressed concern over mounting reports of psychologist involvement in detainee abuse during four years of direct email communications with senior members of the US intelligence community.

See: American Psychological Association Bolstered C.I.A. Torture Program, Report Says (New York Times)