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Middle-aged white guy who believes in justice and equality for all. Math and computer analyst with additional 21st century jack-of-all-trades skills. I'm a stud, not a dud!

Journal Archives

Pramila Jayapal Takes On Medicare for All's Critics

“I wrote the damn bill,” Bernie Sanders frequently says. But on Medicare for All, he’s not the only one. Pramila Jayapal, a second-term Representative from Seattle who has rapidly ascended as a progressive congressional leader, wrote the House version of single-payer. The co-chair of the Progressive Caucus has been touring the country to talk about it. She feels Medicare for All has been unfairly maligned during the presidential primary cycle.

“It is very frustrating to have your own party making the arguments of Republicans and insurance companies.” Jayapal told the Prospect in an interview after a health care town hall in Los Angeles. “And they’re not accurate in their representations.”

Jayapal’s bill, H.R. 1384, has 119 co-sponsors in the House, and was the subject of historic hearings in the Budget, Rules, and Ways and Means Committees, the first time Medicare for All has been formally debated in Congress. Jayapal said that Energy and Commerce, another committee with jurisdiction over health care, would hold hearings soon. But as Elizabeth Warren hunkers down to determine the financing for a national health care program, and as Joe Biden and Pete Buttigieg attack the concept, the benefits of getting everyone in the nation covered have been pushed to the side.

For Jayapal, the debate comes down to two things: coverage and cost—but not government costs. “It is absolutely absurd to subject Medicare for All to a different standard of scrutiny,” she says. “Instead of saying, ‘Wow, Medicare for All costs too much, how are you going to pay for it,’ the question to every candidate should be, ‘What is your plan to bring down health care costs over the next ten years? And what is your plan to universally cover everybody, because none of the other plans do that.’”

Read more: https://prospect.org/health/pramila-jayapal-takes-on-medicare-for-all-critics/
(American Prospect)

Warren Buffett Is Not the Answer to California's Energy Grid Problems

For the fourth time this month, Pacific Gas and Electric has purposefully cut power, this time to 2.8 million Northern California residents. As wildfires threaten the region, some will remain without electricity until at least Wednesday. While rolling blackouts have recently become de rigueur for PG&E ratepayers, this latest round, which affects some 7 percent of California’s population, is historic in scale.

Mounting outrage toward PG&E and its inadequate response to the escalating wildfire risks in the state have prompted a number of responses. Both the cities of San Francisco and San Jose have offered to buy the company’s power lines within their jurisdictions, and convert the operation to public ownership. Representative Ro Khanna has publicly called on Governor Gavin Newsom to make a push to convert the company’s holdings within the state from shareholder to municipal ownership. “I’m calling on Gov. Newsom to support turning PG&E into a customer owned utility. We need to have more municipal public utilities providing energy,” he said in a statement Tuesday.

But Newsom has other ideas. On Saturday, as the blackouts commenced, the governor called not for a public takeover, but for Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway to purchase PG&E, whose share price has fallen to $5 after regulators were informed last week that one of its transmission lines malfunctioned near the site of a fire in Geyserville, California.

The logic behind such a suggestion is simple: Berkshire Hathaway Energy, the conglomerate’s energy arm, is heavily invested in utility companies all over the country. Already in California they own multiple solar farms, including one in San Luis Obispo that is among the world’s largest. Per Newsom’s thinking, the company’s reputation for investing in green energy, combined with its deep pockets (compared to bankruptcy-addled PG&E) would make it a preferable steward of the state’s harried electric grid. Plus, Berkshire Hathaway Energy is privately held, which means that PG&E’s lines would no longer be subject to loathed shareholder ownership.

Read more: https://prospect.org/environment/warren-buffett-is-not-the-answer-to-californias-energy-grid-problems/
(American Prospect)

Team Trump is Mad at Jimmy Kimmel

Westlake man sentenced to nearly five years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the

Westlake man sentenced to nearly five years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the Cleveland Clinic out of $2.7 million

A Westlake man was sentenced to nearly five years in prison for his role in a conspiracy to defraud the Cleveland Clinic out more than $2.7 million.

Wisam Rizk was sentenced to 58 months in prison and ordered to pay $2.7 million in restitution. Rizk previously pleaded guilty to conspiracy to commit wire fraud and honest services fraud and related charges. Rizk will be deported upon completion of his sentence

Rizk worked as Chief Technology Officer at Interactive Visual Health Records, a company formed by Cleveland Clinic Innovations to develop a visual medical charting concept of certain Clinic physicians into a functioning, marketable product, according to the indictment.

Rizk was hired at IVHR by Gary Fingerhut, the former executive director at Cleveland Clinic Innovations. Fingerhut previously pleaded guilty to his role in the conspiracy and was sentenced to 30 months in federal prison.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndoh/pr/westlake-man-sentenced-nearly-five-years-prison-his-role-conspiracy-defraud-cleveland

Las Vegas, Nevada Man Pleads Guilty to Role in Million Dollar Scheme Targeting Thousands of U.S.

Las Vegas, Nevada Man Pleads Guilty to Role in Million Dollar Scheme Targeting Thousands of U.S. Servicemembers and Veterans

In San Antonio, 38-year-old Fredrick Brown, a former civilian medical records administrator for the U.S. Army at the 65th Medical Brigade, Yongsan Garrison, South Korea, admitted his role in an identity-theft and fraud scheme that victimized thousands of U.S. servicemembers and veterans, announced U.S. Attorney John F. Bash, Deputy Assistant Attorney General David Morrell, and Director Gustav Eyler of the Department of Justice’s Consumer Protection Branch.

Appearing before U.S. Magistrate Judge Richard Farrer yesterday, Brown pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud and one count of conspiracy to launder monetary instruments. By pleading guilty, Brown admitted that from July 2014 to September 2015, he stole personal identifying information (PII) of thousands of military members, including names, social security numbers, DOD ID numbers, dates of birth, and contact information. Brown admitted to capturing the PII by taking digital photographs of his computer screen while he was logged into the Armed Forces Health Longitudinal Technology Application. Brown further admitted that he subsequently provided that stolen data to co-defendant Robert Wayne Boling, Jr. so that Boling and others could exploit the information in various ways to access Department of Defense and Veterans Affairs benefits sites and steal millions of dollars.

Brown faces up to 20 years in federal prison for each conspiracy charge. He remains in federal custody awaiting sentencing scheduled for 10:30am on February 6, 2020, before Chief U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio.

As asserted in the indictment, Boling (U.S. citizen), together with his Philippines-based co-defendants Allan Albert Kerr (Australian citizen) and Jongmin Seok (South Korean citizen), specifically used the stolen information to compromise a Department of Defense portal designed to enable military members to access benefits information online. Once through the portal, the defendants are alleged to have accessed benefits information. Access to these detailed records enabled the defendants to steal or attempt to steal millions of dollars from military members’ bank accounts. The defendants also stole veterans’ benefits payments. After the defendants had compromised military members’ bank accounts and veterans’ benefits payments, Boling allegedly worked with co-defendant Trorice Crawford to recruit individuals who would accept the deposit of stolen funds into their bank accounts and then send the funds through international wire remittance services to the defendants and others. Evidence of the defendants’ scheme was detected earlier this year, advancing the investigation that led to the indictment.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdtx/pr/las-vegas-nevada-man-pleads-guilty-role-million-dollar-scheme-targeting-thousands-us

Final Defendant Convicted in $189 Million Health Care Fraud Scam

HOUSTON – With the plea of an 80-year-old Houston man, all 14 charged in the scam involving Continuum Healthcare and its various health centers have been convicted, announced U.S. Attorney Ryan K. Patrick.

Bobby Rouse admitted to conspiring to pay and receive kickbacks and to money laundering relating to the Medicare program today.

A total of 13 others have been convicted in relation to the scheme. A federal jury convicted Cheryl Waller, 73, of Houston, March 2, 2017, after a three-day trial on one count of conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks and one count of receiving kickbacks. Those all convicted on the conspiracy count include Steven Houseworth, 46, James Bobino, 50, Ernestine Johnson, 60, Jackie Harris, 56, and Vermon Lacy III, 35, all of Houston; David Edson, 71, Palm Harbor, Florida; Jeffery Parsons, 60, Crockett; Aretha Johnson, 67, Wimberley; Inger Michelle Pace, 57, Missouri City; Ronald Turner, 59, Fresno; Deborah Davis, 56, Atlanta, Georgia; and Mary Browning, 71, Beasley. Edson and Parsons were also convicted of two counts of money laundering. Johnson also pleaded guilty to one count of money laundering, while Pace and Turner each further admitted to paying and receiving kickbacks.

Rouse, Houseworth, Edson and Parsons were part of the executive team for Continuum Healthcare LLC, which owned Westbury Community Hospital in Houston as well as community mental health centers in the Houston area known by their locations as Hornwood, Baytown and Missouri City.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-sdtx/pr/final-defendant-convicted-189-million-health-care-fraud-scam

Pharmaceutical Sales Rep Sentenced For Defrauding Insurance Companies Out Of Millions Of Dollars

BUFFALO, N.Y.-U.S. Attorney James P. Kennedy, Jr. announced today that Scott Trapp, 50, of Clarence, NY, who was convicted of conspiracy to commit health care fraud, was sentenced to serve 36 months in prison by U.S. District Judge Lawrence J. Vilardo. The defendant was also ordered to pay approximately $10,000,000 in restitution.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maura K. O’Donnell, who handled the case, stated that in 1996 the defendant began working as a pharmaceutical sales representative for various pharmaceutical companies. In 2014, Trapp began marketing “compounded medications,” such as pain patches, pain creams, and scar creams. “Compounded medications” are medications created when a licensed pharmacist, a licensed physician, or a person working under the supervision of a licensed pharmacist, combines, mixes, or alters ingredients of a drug to create a medication tailored to the needs of an individual patient.

The compounded medications marketed by the defendant, and his associates, were not tailored to the needs of individual patients. Instead, the medications were tailored to contain ingredients that carried high reimbursement rates from health insurers. Formulations of the medications were modified at times to permit reimbursement from health insurance companies and/or to maximize reimbursement rates. For example, a one month supply of one of the compounded pain creams marketed by Trapp carried a reimbursement rate of $22,000.

Unlike typical pharmaceutical sales representatives who market prescription drugs to physicians, the defendant, and his associates, identified patients whose health insurance covered the medications, and convinced the patients to agree to receive the medications.

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-wdny/pr/pharmaceutical-sales-rep-sentenced-defrauding-insurance-companies-out-millions-dollars

Outcome Health Agrees to Pay $70 Million to Resolve Fraud Investigation

WASHINGTON – ContextMedia Health LLC, which operates under the trade name Outcome Health (Outcome), a digital provider of medical information and advertising in doctors’ offices, has agreed to a resolution with the Department of Justice by which it will pay $70 million to victims of a fraud scheme that targeted its clients, lenders and investors.

Outcome, a privately held company headquartered in Chicago, Illinois, admitted in resolution documents that from 2012 to 2017, former executives and employees of the company perpetrated a scheme to defraud clients — most of which were pharmaceutical companies — by selling advertising inventory that the company did not have.

“Outcome’s payment of $70 million is an appropriate resolution for the corporate entity given the misconduct of executives and employees acting on its behalf,” said Assistant U.S. Attorney Brian Hayes, Chief of the Criminal Division for the Northern District of Illinois. “This resolution demonstrates that there are significant consequences for businesses whose executives and employees engage in fraud.”

“Outcome Health deceived its lenders and investors, and overbilled its clients, by fraudulently misrepresenting both the quality and quantity of its advertising services and concealing those misrepresentations from auditors,” said Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General John P. Cronan. “Today’s resolution demonstrates the Criminal Division’s unyielding commitment to making whole victims of fraud.”

Read more: https://www.justice.gov/usao-ndil/pr/outcome-health-agrees-pay-70-million-resolve-fraud-investigation

Uncertainty Plagues the Only Hospital in Southeast D.C.

At a public hearing on the only hospital in Southeast D.C., residents and hospital staff alike described dangerous conditions and demanded that the city provide better support. "Sitting here and listening to people testify was very heart wrenching. I totally empathize for all the people that were here," said UMC’s chief executive officer, Ira Gottlieb, after more than 30 people testified on Friday.

UMC, serving more than 150,000 residents in Wards 7 and 8, will close after a new hospital is built on the St. Elizabeths Campus in Congress Heights. But the new hospital isn't scheduled to open until December 2022, and in the meantime, staff describe the many ways UMC is struggling to get by. They say Southeast residents feel abandoned.

Compounding these struggles, it is unclear whether the city will meet this looming 2022 deadline. Health advocates are already pushing back against the company, Universal Health Services, that’s expected to operate the new hospital because of its troubled billing and anti-union practices. Moreover, advocates say, negotiations have been “shrouded in mysticism,” leaving little opportunity for community input. The Council isn't selecting the operator but will review the agreement. Health committee chair, Ward 7 Councilmember Vince Gray, says he does not know the status of negotiations as the Council hasn’t been actively involved.

“I really think we need to bring this to a conclusion. People need to have some predictability about what’s going to happen next,” Gray tells City Desk.

Read more: https://www.washingtoncitypaper.com/news/city-desk/article/21094252/uncertainty-plagues-the-only-hospital-in-southeast-dc

Chile cancels international conference where Trump hoped to sign trade deal with China

Chile has canceled a pair of major global summits on the economy and environment in the coming weeks amid unrest in Santiago, scrambling President Trump’s hopes of signing a first-step trade deal with China at one of the events.

President Sebastián Pińera announced the cancellation as his administration struggles to suppress growing demonstrations in the capital over issues of inequality in one of South America’s wealthiest nations. As many as 1 million protesters took part in a peaceful march over the weekend, while smaller protests have turned violent, prompting the government to declare a state of emergency in several major cities.

Trump was scheduled to attend the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Santiago from Nov. 15 to 17. White House officials said he was planning to meet with China’s President Xi Jinping in a bid to lock in details of a “phase one” trade pact that could ease tensions between the economic powers and lay the groundwork for a bigger trade deal next year.

Chilean officials also pulled out of playing host to the Conference of the Parties, or COP, a major climate change summit, at which more than 100 international delegations were expected.

Read more: https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/chile-cancels-international-conference-where-trump-hoped-to-sign-trade-deal-with-china/2019/10/30/ab65effc-fb20-11e9-8190-6be4deb56e01_story.html
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