Feds To Fingerprint Medicare Providers, Suppliers

From the Weekly Standard:

Feds Begin Fingerprinting ‘High Risk’ Medicare Providers and Suppliers

By JERYL BIER | April 15, 2014

Four years after Obamacare became law, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is notifying Medicare providers and suppliers of new fingerprint-based background checks. Eventually, all individuals who hold a five percent or greater stake in a Medicare supplier or provider that is categorized as "high risk" will be subject to the requirement.

The provision is part of the Medicare, Medicaid, and CHIP Program Integrity Provisions (Title E) of the Affordable Care Act, and gives the HHS secretary broad discretion in applying the background check requirements depending on the potential for abuse, fraud, and/or waste.

The new requirements are spelled out in a document posted online on the website of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) last Friday.  The new rules will apply to both current and future enrollees who are classified as "high risk," the stated purpose being to weed out "bad actors" in the Medicare program and prevent any more from enrolling.

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Premiums Increase At Fastest Clip In Decades

From Jim Angle at Fox News:

Survey shows ObamaCare sending premiums rising at fastest clip in decades

By Jim Angle | Published April 14, 2014

A recent survey of 148 insurance brokers shows that ObamaCare is sending premiums rising at the fastest clip in decades. "For the last, about, five years they’ve been doing this survey, so this was the largest percentage increase in any quarter since they’ve been doing (it)," said Scott Gottlieb of the American Enterprise Institute.

"But at 12 percent, 11 percent increase on average across all the states — that puts it at the upper end of any increase we’ve seen for decades." That is the national average in a survey done by Morgan Stanley. But in some states, it found rates are soaring.

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CBO Claims Cost Of O-Care Subsidies Will Be Lower

First we have this from an unquestioning Reuters:

CBO lowers U.S. deficit estimates as health subsidies fall

By David Lawder and David Morgan | April 15, 2014

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Health insurance subsidies under the Affordable Care Act will cost slightly less than previously thought, helping to slow down the forecast growth of U.S. deficits over the next decade, the Congressional Budget Office said on Monday.

We thought the deficit didn’t matter. But, sure, convince us that giving 83% of 7.5 million people subsidies for their health insurance will lower the deficit.

And convince us that putting 4.5 million people on Medicaid will lower the deficit, too. We’re easy.

The non-partisan CBO [sic], in revisions to its annual budget estimates, said the reduced subsidy cost estimates partly reflect lower premiums now being charged in government-run "Obamacare" exchanges and accommodations that allow previously canceled health plans to be extended…

In other words, the CBO is claiming that fewer people are being kicked off their old plans than the CBO thought would be kicked off their plans.

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7 Questions Raised By The Bundy Ranch Conflict

From the Blaze:

Is Harry Reid Involved? Seven Answers to Seven Questions You’re Probably Asking Right Now About the Nevada Rancher Situation

By Becket Adams | April 13, 2014

… In an effort to provide some clarity on the ongoing developments in Gold Butte, here are some answers to the seven main questions people have asked about the decades-long fight between 67-year-old rancher Cliven Bundy and the federal government:

7. Does Sen. Harry Reid have a connection to the Bureau of Land Management?

In a way, yes.The new head of the Bureau of Land Management recently served as senior policy adviser to Nevada’s Democratic Sen. Harry Reid.

Neil Kornze, 35, left Reid’s office (where he managed public land issues) in 2011 to join the Bureau of Land Management as senior adviser to the director.

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Senators Questioned Reid Aide As New BLM Head

From the Las Vegas Journal-Review:

Senator challenges Nevadan’s experience to head BLM

By STEVE TETREAULT | December 17, 2013

WASHINGTON — Fallout from the Senate’s fight over filibusters ended up falling Tuesday on the Nevadan nominated to head the Bureau of Land Management.

At a Senate confirmation hearing, Sen. John Barrasso, R-Wyo., challenged Neil Kornze’s credentials to lead the agency, saying federal law requires a director to have “broad background and substantial experience in natural resource management.”

“I remain concerned you lack the experience required for the position of BLM director,” Barrasso told Kornze, noting recent BLM Directors Bob Abbey and Jim Caswell each had logged more than 30 years as public lands managers before heading the agency.

Kornze, 35, worked at the BLM in Washington since January 2011, and became the functioning head of the agency when when Abbey retired last year.

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Reid’s Solar Plant Wanted Land In Bundy Dispute

From NewsMax:

Reports: Company Tied to Reid’s Son Wants Land in Bundy Standoff

By Greg Richter | Sunday, 13 Apr 2014

The Nevada rancher who forced the federal Bureau of Land Management to back down last week may have been targeted because a Chinese solar company with ties to Sen. Harry Reid’s son wants the land for an energy plant, several websites report.

A report on Godfatherpolitics.com,  says Chinese energy giant ENN Energy Group wants to use federal land as part of its effort to build a $5 billion solar farm and panel-building plant in the southern Nevada desert. Rory Reid, the son of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, is representing ENN in their efforts to locate in Nevada.

Part of the land ENN wants to use was purchased from Clark County at well below appraised value.

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Flashback: Reid, Son Get China Solar Plant Deal

A flashback from the 2012 archives at Reuters:

U.S. Senator Reid, son combine for China firm’s desert plant

By Marcus Stern | August 31, 2012

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – [Q]uestions surrounding [Reid's] family ties are flaring again in Nevada around the Senate majority leader. He and his oldest son, Rory, are both involved in an effort by a Chinese energy giant, ENN Energy Group, to build a $5 billion solar farm and panel manufacturing plant in the southern Nevada desert.

Just imagine what their cut would be from a $5 billion dollar deal.

Reid has been one of the project’s most prominent advocates, helping recruit the company during a 2011 trip to China and applying his political muscle on behalf of the project in Nevada. His son, a lawyer with a prominent Las Vegas firm that is representing ENN, helped it locate a 9,000-acre (3,600-hectare) desert site that it is buying well below appraised value from Clark County, where Rory Reid formerly chaired the county commission…

Which is also how Harry Reid got rich on previous shady land deals.

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AP Spins ‘Dispute’ Between BLM And NV Rancher

From the whirling dervishes at the Associated Press:

Feds to pursue effort to end dispute with rancher

By MARTIN GRIFFITH | April 14, 2014

A day after blinking in a showdown on the range, federal land managers pledged to pursue efforts to resolve a conflict with a southern Nevada rancher who has refused to pay grazing fees for 20 years.

Because that is all there is to it: A rancher has refused to pay grazing fees for 20 years. This is what passes for journalism at the AP.

Bureau of Land Management spokesman Craig Leff said the agency would continue to try to resolve the matter involving rancher Cliven Bundy "administratively and judicially." Bundy owes more than $1 million in grazing fees, according to the bureau.

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Sebelius: Don’t Use HHS Logo Without Permission

From the Politico:

Sebelius: Hands off HHS seal

By JOSH GERSTEIN | April 11, 2014

In one of her parting official acts, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius is warning Americans not to use her agency’s official seal or logo without permission.

Sebelius — who appeared in the White House Rose Garden on Friday to announce her resignation — formally approved rules Monday that seek to prevent abuse of the agency’s insignia by barring all use of the logo or seal by businesses, community groups or individuals without direct authorization from HHS headquarters.

Because everyone wants to be associated with HHS’s amazing successes. And we can’t allow that!

"The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is adopting requirements on the use of its official logo and seal.

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RAND Study: Only 1.4M Enrollees Were Uninsured

An op/ed by Avik Roy from Forbes:

RAND Comes Clean: Obamacare’s Exchanges Enrolled Only 1.4 Million Previously Uninsured Individuals

By Avik Roy | April 9, 2014

Last week, I wrote about an article in the Los Angeles Times, on a then-as-yet unpublished report from the RAND Corporation. The report indicated that only one-third of Obamacare’s purported 7.1 million exchange sign-ups were from the previously uninsured. But Noam Levey, the author of the Times article, didn’t disclose RAND’s actual findings as to the actual number of previously uninsured exchange enrollees. Well, now we know why. RAND published the full report yesterday; it indicates that Obamacare’s exchanges only enrolled 1.4 million previously uninsured individuals.

And isn’t it funny how the leaker leaked this to the LA Times, who could be counted on to spin things for the administration?

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10,000 Protest Kremlin Propaganda In Moscow

From an irony proof Associated Press:

Anti-Kremlin protest draws thousands in Moscow

April 13, 2014

MOSCOW (AP) — More than 10,000 people turned out in Moscow on Sunday for an anti-Kremlin rally to denounce Russian state television’s news coverage, particularly of the crisis in neighboring Ukraine.

In promoting the Kremlin line, state television has portrayed the new pro-Western government in Ukraine as a "fascist junta" under the control of the U.S. government and determined to oppress Russian speakers in eastern Ukraine. The broadcasts have taken on a harsh anti-American tone.

Some of those who took part in the demonstration, called a "March of Truth," carried blue and yellow Ukrainian flags. One woman, wearing a traditional Ukrainian wreath of flowers on her head, held up a sign with President Vladimir Putin’s picture and the words: "Stop lying."

Among those who spoke to the crowd was Andrei Zubov, a history professor who was fired from one of Moscow’s most prestigious universities last month after criticizing Russia’s military intervention in Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula.

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Russian Separatists Ignore Ukraine Gov’t Deadline

From the Associated Press:

Kiev deadline for disarming in east Ukraine passes

By PETER LEONARD | April 14, 2014

DONETSK, Ukraine (AP) — Pro-Russian separatists on Monday seized a police building in yet another city in Russian-leaning eastern Ukraine, defying government warnings that it was preparing to act against the insurgents.

Dozens of angry men hurled rocks, smashed the windows and broke into a police station in the city of Horlivka not far from the border with Russia, while hundreds of onlookers cheered them on. Thick white smoke rose from the entrance to the building, from which the insurgents hoisted the Russian flag.

The events in Horlivka were the latest sign of trouble in Russian-speaking eastern and southern regions, in which pro-Russian gunmen have seized or blocked government buildings in at least nine cities demanding more autonomy from the central government and closer ties with Russia…

Kiev authorities and Western officials have accused Moscow of instigating the protests, saying the events echoed those in Crimea, which was annexed by Russia last month…

Ya think?

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The S&L ‘Hive’ – Please Talk Amongst Yourselves

Here is our weekend discussion thread, where comments on the general topics of the day are very welcome.

But please remember to post and comment on specific news items in the ‘Reader Selected News’ thread below or via the ‘News Selected By Our Readers’ link found in the sidebar.

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Reader Selected News For Week Apr 12 – Apr 18

This thread is for the busy bees of S&L to post news articles that might not warrant their own thread.

Posting Guidelines

To make the articles as readable as possible, please:

Only post news from established news media outlets.
Avoid editorials or opinion pieces unless they are truly newsworthy.
Avoid items that most people most likely have seen elsewhere.
Post articles that fit under the topic of a recent thread as a comment there. Always spell out the name of the source and post a link to it.
And always post less than one quarter of the original article.

Posts of articles that do not follow these guidelines may be edited or deleted.

Thank you.

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Scientists Have Implanted ‘Lab-Grown’ Vaginas

From US News:

In Medical First, Scientists Implant Lab-Grown Vaginas in Human Patients

By Alan Neuhauser April 10, 2014

For the first time in history, scientists have successfully implanted lab-grown vaginal organs in human patients.

The organs, grown with the patients’ own tissue, were implanted between June 2005 and October 2008 in four teenage girls who each lacked or had an underdeveloped vagina and uterus, the result of a rare genetic condition called Mayer-Rokitansky-Kuster-Hauser (MRKH) syndrome.

Years after the two-hour procedures, annual follow-up visits showed that the surgeries had been a success: The new organs functioned normally, including during sex, and their tissue was indistinguishable from the native tissue that had already been there. The findings offer hope not only for those with MRKH syndrome, but also for those suffering from vaginal cancers or injuries…

This has been going on since 2005, but this is the first we hear of it?

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