The number of Medicare license revocations has more than doubled in the last two years under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) compared to preceding years, according to data released by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Over the last four years, the Obama administration has recovered over $14.9 billion in healthcare fraud judgments, settlements, and administrative impositions, including record recoveries in 2011 and 2012.
Since the Affordable Care Act, CMS has revoked 14,663 providers and suppliers’ ability to bill in the Medicare program since March 2011. These providers were removed from the program because they had felony convictions, were not operational at the address CMS had on file, or were not in compliance with CMS rules.
In 18 states, the number of revocations has quadrupled since CMS put the Affordable Care Act screening and review requirements in place, as well as the implementation of proactive data analysis to identify potential license discrepancies of enrolled individuals and entities. These efforts are ensuring that only qualified and legitimate providers and suppliers can provide health care products and services to Medicare beneficiaries
According to the press release, people with Medicare will soon see in their mailboxes a redesigned statement of their service claims and benefits to help them better identify fraud.
“The New Medicare Summary Notice gives seniors and people with disabilities accurate information on the services they receive in a simpler, clearer way,” said CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner. “It’s an important tool for staying informed on benefits, and for spotting potential Medicare fraud by making the claims history easier to review.”
CMS will send the notices to Medicare beneficiaries on a quarterly basis.
“A beneficiary’s best defense against fraud is to check their Medicare Summary Notices for accuracy and to diligently protect their health information for privacy,” said Peter Budetti, CMS deputy administrator for program integrity.
“Most Medicare providers are honest and work hard to provide services to beneficiaries,” added Budetti. “Unfortunately, there are some people trying to exploit the Medicare system.”
According to the report ‘Workplace Violence Against Government Employees, 1994–2011’ released by the U.S. Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, the average annual rate of workplace violence perpetrated against local, county, state, and federal government employees in 2011 was three times greater than that of private sector workers.
The annual average rate of workplace violence against local, county, state, and federal government employees actually declined 82% from 1994 to 2011, compared to a decline of 72% for the private sector. Most of the decline (76%) occurred between 1994 and 2002, when the rate of workplace violence against government employees dropped from 99.2 violent victimizations per 1,000 to 24.2 per 1,000. The rate dropped an additional 25.6% from 2002 to 2011.
The report also found that found that local, county, state and federal government employees experienced 18.0 nonfatal violent victimizations in the workplace per 1,000 employees age 16 or older compared to 5.2 nonfatal violent victimizations per 1,000 private-sector employees. In 2011, the rate of workplace violence against government employees was more than three times the rate for private-sector employees.
Based on the BJS National Crime Victimization Survey and the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries (CFOI), the report includes information on type of workplace violence, violence by occupation, and victim and crime characteristics including sex and race distribution, offender weapon use, and victim injury.
Background checks and workplace violence
The repercussions of an incident of workplace violence can be severe for employers if the correct safety procedures have not been followed by the company. For this reason, background checks are a must for any organization in the public sector, and the fact is reinforced by such workplace violence statistics.
Protect yourself and protect your employees by hiring a pre-employment screening company to discuss your employment screening options.
The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) held a public meeting last week to discuss implementation of the Commission’s fiscal year 2012-2016 Strategic Plan. The Commission approved the Strategic Plan in a 4-1 vote in February 2012.
As stated in the plan, the mission of the EEOC is “to stop and remedy unlawful employment discrimination so that the nation can achieve our ultimate vision of justice and equality in the workplace”.
The plan serves as a framework for the Commission in achieving this mission by focusing on three objectives: strategic law enforcement, education and outreach, and efficiently serving the public. The three strategic objectives each have a number of performance measures detailing outcomes to be achieved during the four-year period the plan is in effect. The performance measures are designed to assess the Commission’s progress in carrying out its mission in a time of static or declining resources and a growing need for its services.
The Agency’s Performance Improvement Officer (PIO), Claudia Withers, answered questions about Performance Plan 1, addressing the Strategic Enforcement Plan (SEP) and each of the performance measures. Withers reiterated the agency’s commitment to mission-critical thinking, transparent governance, inter-agency collaboration and public participation.
For a full review on the meeting, take a look at the EEOC press release. The Commission will hold open the Commission meeting record until March 6th, and invites audience members, as well as other members of the public, to submit written comments on any issues or matters discussed at the meeting. Public comments may be mailed to Commission Meeting, EEOC Executive Officer, 131 M Street, N.E., Washington, D.C. 20507, or emailed to: .
An enterprise that compiled and sold criminal record reports has agreed to settle Federal Trade Commission charges that it operated as a consumer reporting agency without taking consumer protection measures required by the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA). The FTC’s settlement order, which prohibits the respondents from future FCRA violations, resolves the agency’s first FCRA case involving mobile apps.
The apps included a representation that purchasers could use the reports for employment purposes. One app stated, “Are you hiring somebody and wanting to quickly find out if they have a record? Then Texas Criminal Record Search is the perfect application for you.” Consumers who paid 99 cents to download one of its apps from iTunes or the Google Android store (now GooglePlay) could conduct an unlimited number of searches for criminal records within a particular state or county.
However, at the same time, the terms and conditions stated that the reports were not FCRA compliant and should not be considered a screening product for employment among other purposes. The companies agreed to settle with the FTC for charges that they operated as a CRA without complying with the FCRA. Specifically:
A. Furnishing a consumer report to any person which respondents do not have reason to believe has a permissible purpose;
B. Failing to maintain reasonable procedures designed to limit the furnishing of consumer reports to the purposes listed under Section 604(a) of the FCRA;
C. Failing to maintain reasonable procedures to assure the maximum possible accuracy of the information concerning the individual about whom a consumer report relates;
D. Failing to provide the “Notice to Users of Consumer Reports: Obligations of Users Under the FCRA” (“User Notice”) required by Section 607(d) of the FCRA to all users of respondents’ consumer reports; and,
E. Failing to provide the Notice to Furnishers of Information: Obligations of Furnishers Under the FCRA (“Furnisher Notice”) required by Section 607(d) of the FCRA to all furnishers of consumer report information to respondents.
To learn more about background screening reports, employers’ obligations and employees’ rights under the FCRA, contact us today and we’ll set you on the right course.
The National Association of Professional Background Screeners (NAPBS) published a release last week offering advice on best practices for screening and background checks. Take a look at the full release below:
As employers begin to plan business strategies for the upcoming year, there is no question that personnel needs will be high on their to-do lists. To help business owners and human resource managers make sound hiring decisions, more and more are turning to pre-employment background screening to ensure they find the right people for the right positions.
Each year, business owners, corporate human resources departments, government agencies and nonprofits successfully partner with professional background screening companies to conduct millions of pre-employment and volunteer background checks. Not only do background checks help employers find the most qualified workers, but they also play an important role in helping employers meet their legal responsibilities and provide a safe environment for existing employees and the customers they serve.
NAPBS and its members are committed to ensuring the highest degree of accuracy and professionalism when it comes to background checks. To that end, NAPBS offers the following best practices intended to benefit employers and job seekers who are planning for 2013:
1. Be Complete: Conduct a comprehensive background search to avoid negligent hiring. Relying on partial information or information that may be out of date can be as risky as not conducting a thorough background check at all.
2. Be Efficient: Time is a precious commodity especially for recruiters. Look for ways to utilize technology to help create efficiencies. Talk with your background screening provider about ways to improve your process to save you money and time.
3. Be Thorough: As an employer, you have certain responsibilities under the law. Make sure that all background screening practices meet federal and state regulations as well as industry requirements. Be mindful of the new Equal Employment Opportunity Commission criminal guidelines and the Fair Credit Reporting Act.
4. Be Analytical: Consider job responsibilities when screening candidates. Go beyond basic background information and assess job relatedness and business necessity.
5. Be Consistent: Develop a method for a targeted level of screening for each open job position to align with business needs and job relatedness.
Accuracy in background screening is the number one priority of NAPBS members who continually strive to maintain their high accuracy rates. A recent informal poll of NAPBS member companies, including both large and small companies, reaffirmed this commitment. The poll showed accuracy rates of more than 99 percent with a small fraction requiring changes as a result of consumers disputing their reports.
Over the course of 2013, NAPBS member companies will continue to work to refine best practices and compliance information for their clients. The National Association of Professional Background Screeners encourages employers and job seekers alike to prepare themselves by taking advantage of the useful information available on the Association’s web site www.napbs.com and to contact NAPBS with any questions you may have.
Recent revelations about the Boy Scouts of America’s decades-old confidential “ineligible volunteer files” raise questions about the quality of youth protection today, and has led to an increase in calls for better child protection plans in the youth sector.
“The more barriers you put up … the harder you make it for the predators,” said Mike Gurtler, a partner at Safe-Wise Consulting in Bar Harbor, Maine. While scouting has expanded its safety measures recently by requiring background screening for all volunteers and staff, the structure is far from perfect.
Nonetheless, interviews with child-protection experts and reviews of websites show the Boy Scouts on par with many other national youth-service and youth-sports organizations in screening adult participants and setting standards for interactions with kids. Some groups, such as the Amateur Athletic Union, have a centralized system for background checks and national standards for interaction between coaches and youth athletes. Others, such as the YMCA, the Girl Scouts of America and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, let regional councils or local affiliates determine screening requirements, according to youth protection documents and interviews.
It’s certainly worth remembering, however, that “research suggests no more than 20 percent of pedophiles are reported to authorities”. While that doesn’t negate the need for criminal background checks, it emphasizes that such a check on its own is simply not enough. Any organization, specifically those that work with children, require a thorough background screening process for all employees and volunteers.
Gurtler said he suspects that, with increased vigilance in major youth nonprofits, molestation is more likely “in the smaller youth organizations and sports groups that don’t have those protections … fully in place. Adult predators will find those places.” The solution is to ensure these groups do everything possible to have a background check process in place, without any gaps. Pre-employment screening companies are one solution to ensure you don’t miss any important screening opportunities.
Belford High School and Belford University – well known as an online diploma mill – lost a $22.7 million federal class-action lawsuit earlier this year, but experts say the judgment will have only a small effect on what is a billion-dollar, international Internet scheme.
The lawsuit, which was originally brought against www.belfordhighschool.com by Flint native Carrie McCluskey, alleged that Belford High School takes students’ money by offering them an accredited high school diploma, but that Belford High School is not accredited by legitimate accreditation agencies and that the diplomas are not valid.
“Getting a GED can really help you start your life,” McCluskey, told the Flint Journal after filing her lawsuit in November 2009. “People who want to give you fake ones are saying they don’t care where your life will go. They’re just out for your money.”
“I’ve known for a long time that Belford was completely fake,” said George Gollin, a professor of physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a former elected official on the Board of Directors for the Council for Higher Education Accreditation. “I would think that there are close to 200,000 fake degrees being sold every year, with the majority of those – at least 100,000 – coming in the U.S.”
Gollin has worked for years with retired FBI agent Allen Ezell and John Bear, an authority on distance education, as part of a watchdog group that helps bust up what he calls “diploma mills and scams by con artists.” Ezell, an FBI agent for 35 years, co-authored the book Degree Mills: The Billion-dollar Industry That Has Sold Over a Million Fake Diplomas and for 11 years was the head of the FBI’s DipScam task force charged with disbanding diploma mills.
MLive states that Belford High School and Belford University was ordered to pay $22,783,500. The ruling, which reflected the approximate price of each diploma sold ($249 each), times the 30,500 U.S. students who purchased diplomas from Belford between 2003 and the time of the lawsuit, and multiplied by three, pursuant to damages associated with Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations violations.
Diploma Mills on the increase
The second annual Accredibase™ Report for 2011 revealed a 48 percent increase worldwide in the number of known fake diploma mills, and the number of what the report describes as “largely online entities whose degrees are worthless due to the lack of valid accreditation and recognition” is likely to increase in the coming year as desperate job applicants knowingly – and unknowingly – do business with companies that offer fake degrees and false credentials for a price.
Accredibase identified approximately 5,000 suspect educational institutions and accreditors, with more than 2,600 confirmed diploma mills and more than 2,000 suspect institutions currently under investigation for inclusion in the database.
For more information on diploma mills and effective background screening, get in touch with us today.
The former graduate student accused in a deadly mass shooting at a movie theater had failed a key exam six weeks before the rampage, made threats and was banned from his college, prosecutors said last week.
University of Colorado Denver spokeswoman Jacque Montgomery later disputed that James Holmes was banned from campus but confirmed that a criminal background check was done on him before the July 20 attack. She said a court gag order prevented her from discussing who requested the check, who performed it, and who saw the results.
Did tutor concerns lead to a background check?
It’s the first explicit confirmation from the university that concerns had been raised about Holmes at the school before the shooting. University officials did not elaborate about why they conducted the background check.
Montgomery did say that campus Police Chief Doug Abraham was referring to that background check when he said at a July 23 news conference that Holmes had only a minor infraction on his record. She said Holmes’ access to restricted areas on campus was canceled because he left his program in June, not because of threats.
Prosecutors made their new claims last week against Holmes in their effort to persuade a judge to allow them access to 100 pages of education records subpoenaed from the university, where Holmes had been a neuroscience doctoral candidate. The university turned over the documents last week, but Holmes’ lawyers moved to keep them sealed.
Former Denver Deputy District Attorney Karen Steinhauser said arguments over the records show both sides are gearing up for a trial over Holmes’ sanity.
“They know it’s not a question of who did this,” Steinhauser said. “They know that the only possible defense is that he was not sane at the time.”
Huffington Post sales head Moritz Loew has been fired after just three months on the job, according to Ad Age. The dismissal centered around a background check turning up an old, outstanding warrant for failure to appear in court related to a 2003 DWI charge that he says he has since dealt with.
“I did not know about [the outstanding warrant] … but it was a stupid mistake,” he said. An AOL spokeswoman said in an emailed statement: “Recent information has indicated that Moritz’s hiring did not meet AOL requirements.”
Mr. Loew previously held senior digital sales roles at NBC News Digital and MSNBC. In May, Mr. Loew tweeted out an Ad Age article that mentioned both the hiring of Janet Balis as Huffington Post’s first publisher as well as his new job. His tweet read in part: “[N]ice to be part of the dream team.” He reported directly to Arianna Huffington.
The hiring of Ms. Balis and Mr. Loew at the Huffington Post came as part of a restructuring at AOL resulting in the company’s various content brands, including the Huffington Post, being run more like independent businesses.
Following in the footsteps of Yahoo
Yahoo faced a similar position only a few months ago, when their new CEO, Scott Thompson, resigned after it was revealed he lied on his resume. While no one wants to see situations like these, what is important to note is that these companies – giants in their respective industries – are practicing thorough employment checks as part of their hiring program.
However, it’s not just big companies that should be performing background checks, it’s all companies – big or small. While smaller companies may be anxious about the costs of implementing such a program, considering facts such as “the average costs of a bad hire may equal 30% of the first year’s potential earnings”, it will be more than worth it in the long run.
If you would like more information on background checks, or questions about how they are implemented, we will be happy to provide answers. Send us a message to learn more.
It has been revealed that James Holmes, the man who murdered 12 people in a movie theater in Aurora last week, was able to build a 6,000-round arsenal – completely unhindered by any form of background check or screening.
According to the New York Times, the suspect ordered 3,000 rounds of handgun ammunition, 3,000 rounds for an assault rifle and 350 shells for a 12-gauge shotgun — an amount of firepower that costs roughly $3,000 at the online sites — in the four months before the shooting.
He also bought bulletproof vests and other tactical gear, and a high-capacity “drum magazine” large enough to hold 100 rounds and capable of firing 50 or 60 rounds per minute — a purchase that would have been restricted under proposed legislation that has been stalled in Washington for more than a year.
How was this possible?
The shooter was able to build such a large amount of ammunition for two reasons – because, in most cases, the sellers are not required to report sales to law enforcement, and also due to the fact that neither Colorado nor federal law required him to submit to a background check or register his purchases. While a few states have enforced regulation on ammunition sales, most have not.
Gun-control groups said the purchases of the ammunition demonstrated how easily anyone could build a veritable arsenal without attracting attention from state or federal law-enforcement officials. Gun groups replied that stricter controls would not make the nation safer, but would only restrict constitutional rights.
“I have an issue with people being able to buy ammunition and weapons on the Internet,” Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey of the Philadelphia police said on the ABC program “This Week” on Sunday. “I don’t know why people need to have assault weapons. There needs to be reasonable gun control put in place.
“And we talk about this constantly, and absolutely nothing happens, because many of our legislators, unfortunately, at the federal level, lack the courage to do anything.”
It’s a highly controversial topic, and one that may result in even greater divisions in an election year. Regardless of whether you believe gun control would infringe your rights or not, everyone can surely agree measures need to be put in place to prevent something like this happening again – whether that be in the format of more stringent background checks or via other means.
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