January 27, 2022

News

News Network

Anesthesia Services: Differences between Private and Medicare Payments Likely Due to Providers’ Strong Negotiating Position

14 min read
<div>Literature GAO reviewed indicated that private insurance payments for anesthesia services on average were more than 3-1/2 times those of Medicare payments. This payment difference increased from what GAO reported in 2007—average private insurance payments for certain anesthesia services in 2004 were about 3 times those of Medicare. While Medicare rates for anesthesia services are set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), private insurance rates are set through negotiations between providers and private insurers. GAO identified three recent studies with analyses of private insurance and Medicare payments for anesthesia services: Researchers from Yale University calculated that private insurance payments were 3.67 times Medicare payments, on average, for services provided by anesthesiologists for one large private insurer in 2015 operating across all 50 states and the District of Columbia. The Health Care Cost Institute calculated that in 2017 private insurance payments ranged from 2 to 7 times Medicare payments, on average, across six common services provided by anesthesiologists in 33 states. Wide state-to-state variation within specific services was reported. The American Society of Anesthesiologists reported that private insurance payments were 3.46 times Medicare payments, on average, based on a survey of its members in 2019. According to studies GAO reviewed and stakeholders GAO interviewed, market factors likely enhanced anesthesia providers' negotiating position and allowed them to secure higher private payments. For example, several studies and stakeholders cited market concentration as a key factor that increased private payments for anesthesia services. In a market with high provider concentration—or relatively few providers in a given market—there is little competition between providers, enabling the providers within that market to negotiate for higher payments from private insurers. Studies also indicated that specialists, including anesthesia providers, could negotiate higher in-network payment rates because they were able to leave an insurer's network with little risk of losing patients or revenue. In addition, when anesthesia providers are not a part of a private insurer's network, they are typically able to bill for a higher amount than the insurer would pay for an in-network provider, known as out-of-network billing. This dynamic decreases providers' incentives to participate in insurer networks because it creates an attractive alternative to network participation. GAO's interviews with stakeholders, literature review, and review of agency data generally did not indicate that the supply of anesthesia providers was insufficient for Medicare beneficiaries. CMS data indicate that the number of active anesthesia providers per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries increased from 2010 through 2018 and that a very small number of anesthesia providers opted out of the Medicare program. Furthermore, researchers and stakeholders GAO interviewed were not aware of any issues with access to anesthesia services for Medicare beneficiaries, including those in traditionally underserved rural areas. In 2018, Medicare paid over $2 billion for anesthesia services, such as general anesthesia administered to beneficiaries undergoing surgical or other invasive procedures. The joint explanatory statement for the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 included a provision for GAO to update its 2007 report and examine how differences in payment rates for anesthesia services have changed since that time. In 2007, GAO reported that Medicare payments in 2004 for certain anesthesia services provided by anesthesiologists were on average 67 percent lower than private insurance payments in certain geographic areas—indicating that private payments were about 3 times more than Medicare payments at that time. This report describes what is known about (1) recent trends in differences between Medicare and private payments for anesthesia services, and (2) the sufficiency of the supply of anesthesia providers for Medicare beneficiaries. GAO reviewed literature and available published data on payment differences for anesthesia services, published in the United States since 2010. GAO also reviewed data from CMS on the number of anesthesia providers from 2010, 2018, and 2020. GAO also interviewed a nongeneralizable selection of three research groups, two beneficiary advocacy groups, and five stakeholder groups, including those representing anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and hospitals, to obtain their perspectives on these issues. The Department of Health and Human Services provided no comments on this report. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or farbj@gao.gov.</div>

What GAO Found

Literature GAO reviewed indicated that private insurance payments for anesthesia services on average were more than 3-1/2 times those of Medicare payments. This payment difference increased from what GAO reported in 2007—average private insurance payments for certain anesthesia services in 2004 were about 3 times those of Medicare. While Medicare rates for anesthesia services are set by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), private insurance rates are set through negotiations between providers and private insurers.

GAO identified three recent studies with analyses of private insurance and Medicare payments for anesthesia services:

Researchers from Yale University calculated that private insurance payments were 3.67 times Medicare payments, on average, for services provided by anesthesiologists for one large private insurer in 2015 operating across all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The Health Care Cost Institute calculated that in 2017 private insurance payments ranged from 2 to 7 times Medicare payments, on average, across six common services provided by anesthesiologists in 33 states. Wide state-to-state variation within specific services was reported.

The American Society of Anesthesiologists reported that private insurance payments were 3.46 times Medicare payments, on average, based on a survey of its members in 2019.

According to studies GAO reviewed and stakeholders GAO interviewed, market factors likely enhanced anesthesia providers’ negotiating position and allowed them to secure higher private payments. For example, several studies and stakeholders cited market concentration as a key factor that increased private payments for anesthesia services. In a market with high provider concentration—or relatively few providers in a given market—there is little competition between providers, enabling the providers within that market to negotiate for higher payments from private insurers. Studies also indicated that specialists, including anesthesia providers, could negotiate higher in-network payment rates because they were able to leave an insurer’s network with little risk of losing patients or revenue. In addition, when anesthesia providers are not a part of a private insurer’s network, they are typically able to bill for a higher amount than the insurer would pay for an in-network provider, known as out-of-network billing. This dynamic decreases providers’ incentives to participate in insurer networks because it creates an attractive alternative to network participation.

GAO’s interviews with stakeholders, literature review, and review of agency data generally did not indicate that the supply of anesthesia providers was insufficient for Medicare beneficiaries. CMS data indicate that the number of active anesthesia providers per 100,000 Medicare beneficiaries increased from 2010 through 2018 and that a very small number of anesthesia providers opted out of the Medicare program. Furthermore, researchers and stakeholders GAO interviewed were not aware of any issues with access to anesthesia services for Medicare beneficiaries, including those in traditionally underserved rural areas.

Why GAO Did This Study

In 2018, Medicare paid over $2 billion for anesthesia services, such as general anesthesia administered to beneficiaries undergoing surgical or other invasive procedures. The joint explanatory statement for the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020 included a provision for GAO to update its 2007 report and examine how differences in payment rates for anesthesia services have changed since that time. In 2007, GAO reported that Medicare payments in 2004 for certain anesthesia services provided by anesthesiologists were on average 67 percent lower than private insurance payments in certain geographic areas—indicating that private payments were about 3 times more than Medicare payments at that time.

This report describes what is known about (1) recent trends in differences between Medicare and private payments for anesthesia services, and (2) the sufficiency of the supply of anesthesia providers for Medicare beneficiaries. GAO reviewed literature and available published data on payment differences for anesthesia services, published in the United States since 2010. GAO also reviewed data from CMS on the number of anesthesia providers from 2010, 2018, and 2020. GAO also interviewed a nongeneralizable selection of three research groups, two beneficiary advocacy groups, and five stakeholder groups, including those representing anesthesiologists, nurse anesthetists, and hospitals, to obtain their perspectives on these issues. The Department of Health and Human Services provided no comments on this report.

For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or farbj@gao.gov.

News Network

  • Secretary Blinken’s Call with French Foreign Minister Le Drian, German Foreign Minister Maas, and UK Foreign Secretary Raab
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • Broadband: FCC is Taking Steps to Accurately Map Locations That Lack Access
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) was tasked in the 2020 Broadband Deployment Accuracy and Technological Availability Act (Broadband DATA Act) to create a location fabric, which is a dataset of all locations or structures in the U.S. that could be served by broadband, over which broadband deployment data can be overlaid. The purpose of this data collection effort is to improve the granularity and precision of FCC's broadband deployment mapping, which will allow FCC to more precisely assess where Americans still lack access to broadband. As a start, FCC has hired a data architect and met with data companies and states to identify options. FCC has issued a request for proposals for a product to meet FCC's location fabric needs. Additionally, FCC officials said that the data company that generates the location fabric will be responsible for developing a process for state, local, and tribal entities, and others to question and correct fabric location data to improve their accuracy, as required by the law. Stakeholders GAO interviewed identified challenges FCC faces with developing a location fabric, including incomplete or conflicting data sources, but said that such challenges can be overcome by using multiple sources of data. For example, according to stakeholders, there is no one source of location data that will be sufficient for FCC and its contract data company to develop a precise location fabric; therefore, it is necessary to integrate four main types of data to have a complete location fabric, as shown in the figure. These data can be sourced from federal, state, local, and commercial sources. State-level pilots have shown that overlaying these data increases the accuracy of the location fabric and addresses the limitation that some sources have incomplete data. FCC will need to manage other challenges as well, such as use restrictions. Figure: Mapping Broadband Serviceable Locations Using the Four Key Data Types Why GAO Did This Study Broadband is critical for commercial, educational, and social functions. While most Americans have access to broadband, many still do not—a gap known as the digital divide. To help close this divide, federal programs provide funding to support broadband deployment in unserved areas. According to FCC, these programs rely on data FCC collects from broadband providers to identify which areas are and are not served to target their limited funds. However, GAO has raised concerns about FCC's data for lacking accuracy and overstating service. FCC has been measuring broadband deployment by counting an entire census block as served if a provider reports that it offers service to at least one location in the census block. This method can overstate the extent of broadband deployment if the data show that a census block has broadband but not all locations in the census block are actually served. FCC began an effort in 2017 to improve its broadband data, and, in 2020, the Broadband DATA Act required FCC to develop a location fabric. The Broadband DATA Act included a provision for GAO to assess key data sources that may be used to develop a location fabric. This report (1) describes FCC's progress in developing a location fabric; and (2) describes challenges stakeholders identified that FCC faces in developing a location fabric. GAO reviewed relevant documents; surveyed officials in 54 states and territories; and interviewed officials from data companies, broadband providers, federal agencies, and states. For more information, contact Andrew Von Ah at (202) 512-2834 or VonahA@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Economic Development: Opportunities Exist for Further Collaboration among EDA, HUD, and USDA
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Federal economic development programs and state business incentives approach economic development in different ways. In GAO's review of six large state business incentive packages ($50 million or more) in four states, federal economic development program funds were not directly used. Reasons for limited use could include differences in purposes and goals, and limitations on how federal funds can be used. For example, the goals of economic development programs administered by the Department of Commerce's Economic Development Administration (EDA), the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) do not completely align with the goals of state business incentives, the latter of which include attracting and retaining individual businesses. Although these incentive packages were not funded with federal economic development program funds, some of the businesses that received a large incentive package were highlighted in federal strategic plans as opportunities for investment and job growth in the local economy. The economic development programs of EDA, HUD, and USDA each encourage or require state and local communities to conduct strategic planning, which includes obtaining input from a range of public and private stakeholders and identifying ways to leverage other available resources, such as federal and state funding. Recognizing the similarities in what they require of grantees, in 2016, EDA and HUD entered into an interagency agreement to align planning requirements under their programs. The agencies implemented certain aspects of the agreement, such as issuing joint guidance to applicants. However, they have not implemented selected leading practices for effective interagency collaboration: Updating written agreements: EDA and HUD have not regularly monitored or updated their interagency agreement to reflect changing priorities of either agency. Officials stated the agencies have prioritized other areas for coordination, such as disaster relief, instead of state and local strategic planning processes. Including relevant participants: EDA and HUD have made limited efforts to involve USDA in their collaborative efforts. USDA also encourages strategic planning for local communities. Monitoring progress towards outcomes: EDA and HUD's agreement identifies specific outcomes, including effectively aligning federal, state, and local resources for economic development. However, the agencies have not monitored progress or addressed any related challenges in meeting the stated outcomes of the collaboration. By incorporating selected leading practices for effective collaboration, EDA and HUD can help grantees and local communities better manage fragmented efforts to meet federal requirements for strategic planning and more effectively align federal and state resources. Why GAO Did This Study States spend billions of dollars annually in business incentives to attract and retain individual businesses or industries. EDA, HUD, and USDA administer programs that support states' economic development goals and encourage strategic planning. In previous reports, we have identified concerns related to fragmentation in these agencies' efforts to collaborate on economic development programs with each other. GAO was asked to review issues related to these state and federal economic development efforts. This report examines the use of federal economic development programs to support state business incentives and how selected federal agencies collaborate on these programs, among other issues. GAO reviewed information on federal economic development programs and business incentives in four states (selected because the states offer incentives of $50 million or more and vary geographically). GAO interviewed federal and state agency officials and policy organizations.
    [Read More…]
  • Secretary Blinken’s Trilateral Meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Motegi and Republic of Korea Foreign Minister Chung
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Office of the [Read More…]
  • House of Representatives Vote on a Libyan Interim Government of National Unity
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Medicare: Additional Reporting on Key Staffing Information and Stronger Payment Incentives Needed for Skilled Nursing Facilities [Reissued with revisions on Aug. 10, 2021.]
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Medicare covers short-term care for residents in about 15,500 skilled nursing facilities (SNF) after a hospital stay. GAO's analysis of 2019 staffing data found that almost all SNFs frequently met a federal requirement for a registered nurse (RN) on site for 8 hours per day. Fewer SNFs frequently met two other staffing measures that specify different numbers of nursing hours per resident per day. For example, about half of SNFs frequently met Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) case-mix measures—hours worked per resident that vary based on the medical needs of each SNF's residents—that CMS uses to set SNF staffing ratings. Further, about one-quarter of SNFs frequently met staffing thresholds for minimum RN and total nurse staffing that a CMS staffing study identified as needed to avoid quality problems. SNFs are not subject to these quality thresholds for ratings or as requirements, but many stakeholders have recommended that they be used as SNF staffing thresholds. Percent of Skilled Nursing Facilities (SNFs) That Met Registered (RN) Nurse Staffing Requirement or Measures, 2019 CMS reports certain key staffing information—such as RN overall staffing hours—on its Care Compare website, but does not report other important information. For example, GAO found that average RN staffing hours decreased about 40 percent on weekends, but CMS does not directly report this information. This limits the ability of beneficiaries to make informed choices among SNFs when choosing a facility. GAO estimated that in 2018 Medicare spent over $5 billion on critical incidents that CMS defines as potentially preventable—which are mostly about 377,000 hospital readmissions occurring within 30 days of the SNF admission. Current law directs CMS to make reductions of up to 2 percent to certain SNFs' payments to incentivize them to improve care, but does not address additional reductions. Experts have noted that payment incentives under current law may not be sufficient to motivate SNFs to improve their staffing, which in turn could lead to reductions in critical incidents. Without stronger payment incentives, Medicare is unlikely to reduce the billions in spending on potentially preventable critical incidents or the patient harm that can occur from them. Why GAO Did This Study In 2019, Medicare spent nearly $28 billion on care provided to 1.5 million beneficiaries in SNFs—a type of nursing facilty that provides residents short-term rehabilitation care after a hospital stay rather than long-term nursing home care that Medicare does not cover. SNFs must meet federal standards to participate in Medicare. CMS rates SNFs on factors such as staffing and quality of care and publishes its ratings on the Care Compare website. GAO was asked to examine SNF staffing and rates of critical incidents. This report examines (among other objectives): SNF performance on staffing measures, CMS reporting of staffing information on Care Compare, and Medicare payments for critical incidents. GAO analyzed CMS staffing and critical incidents data, information on Care Compare, and Medicare claims data for 2018 and 2019. GAO also interviewed CMS officials and other stakeholders such as key researchers and beneficiary groups.
    [Read More…]
  • Four sentenced for roles in ransom scheme
    In Justice News
    Four U.S. citizens have [Read More…]
  • Two Georgia Correctional Officers Indicted for Civil Rights and Related Offenses for Assaulting Inmates
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury in Macon, Georgia, returned a 4-count indictment against former supervisory correctional officer Sergeant Patrick Sharpe, 29, and former correctional officer Jamal Scott, 33, of the Valdosta State Prison (VSP) for their roles in using excessive force against inmates incarcerated at the facility.
    [Read More…]
  • FDA Workforce: Agency-Wide Workforce Planning Needed to Ensure Medical Product Staff Meet Current and Future Needs
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)—an agency of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS)—is responsible for, among other things, ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of human medical products marketed in the United States. FDA has used a variety of strategies to improve the agency's ability to recruit and retain the scientific, technical, and professional staff for its three centers responsible for the oversight of human medical products. These centers—the Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, the Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, and the Center for Devices and Radiological Health—were the focus of GAO's review. To improve both recruitment and retention for these centers, FDA leveraged the hiring and pay flexibilities provided by the 21st Century Cures Act (Cures Act) to expedite hiring and to offer higher salaries than the agency could under traditional federal hiring authorities. FDA has used these flexibilities to hire and retain staff such as scientists, physicians, and regulatory counsel, for whom pay disparities with the private sector are especially large. FDA also established a team dedicated to engaging with the scientific community and established a unified branding strategy that emphasizes the agency's public health mission. GAO found that FDA follows some leading practices for effective workforce planning for medical product staff. FDA's medical product centers each conduct yearly workforce planning in which they determine the skills they need and develop strategies to address identified gaps. However, FDA does not have an agency-wide strategic workforce plan to coordinate human capital efforts across the medical product centers, nor does it have performance measures in place to evaluate the effectiveness of its human capital strategies, as called for by leading practices of effective workforce planning. FDA Workforce Planning Activities for Medical Product Staff As Compared to GAO-Identified Leading Practices for Effective Workforce Planning Leading practice Alignment between FDA actions and leading practices Determine needed skills and develop strategies to address gaps ● Monitor and evaluate progress toward human capital goals ◒ Develop a strategic workforce plan ◯ Legend: ● = Aligned with leading practices; ◒ = Partially aligned with leading practices; ○ = Not aligned with leading practices Source: GAO analysis of Food and Drug Administration documents and interviews with officials. | GAO-22-104791 Further, FDA does not have a process to update such a plan on an ongoing basis should one be developed. FDA's last agency-wide strategic workforce plan—covering fiscal years 2010 through 2012—was developed under prior leadership and current agency officials were not aware of it. Without an agency-wide strategic workforce plan and a process to keep it up to date, FDA lacks reasonable assurance that actions taken within its individual centers and offices will help the agency achieve its overarching goals and mission over time. Why GAO Did This Study FDA relies on a qualified medical product workforce to achieve its mission to protect public health. However, FDA has faced challenges meeting its medical product workforce needs, due in part to competition with the private sector for candidates. Enacted in 2016, the 21st Century Cures Act provided additional flexibilities to facilitate FDA's recruitment and retention of medical product staff and included a provision for GAO to study FDA's recruitment and retention of these staff. This report: (1) describes the strategies FDA uses to recruit, hire, and retain medical product staff, and (2) evaluates the workforce planning processes FDA uses for these staff and whether these processes follow leading workforce planning practices. GAO analyzed FDA policies, guidance, reports, and data related to recruitment and retention of medical product staff and workforce planning. GAO also interviewed FDA officials responsible for hiring these staff and nonprofit and private sector organizations representing scientific staff.
    [Read More…]
  • Sanctioning Cuban Officials in Response to Violence against Peaceful Protestors
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Antony J. Blinken, [Read More…]
  • Bhutan Travel Advisory
    In Travel
    Do not travel to Bhutan [Read More…]
  • Private Health Coverage: Results of Covert Testing for Selected Sales Representatives Listed on Healthcare.gov
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found Since 2014, millions of consumers have purchased individual market health insurance plans through the health insurance exchanges—or marketplaces—established under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Sales representatives listed on Department of Health and Human Services' (HHS) healthcare.gov website can also sell other types of health coverage arrangements that may cost less but may not cover all pre-existing conditions as comprehensive PPACA-compliant plans do. GAO performed 31 covert tests on selected sales representatives listed on healthcare.gov. These tests involved stating that the (fictitious) applicant had pre-existing conditions—either diabetes or heart disease—and requesting coverage for these conditions to see if the sales representative directed the applicant to a comprehensive PPACA-compliant plan or a PPACA-exempt plan that does not cover what the fictitious applicant requested. As part of these tests, GAO gauged whether the selected sales representatives engaged in potentially deceptive practices, such as making false or misleading statements about coverage or omitting material information about coverage. All 31 sales representatives GAO contacted appropriately referred GAO's fictitious applicant to a PPACA-compliant plan. The majority of sales representatives also explained that a PPACA-exempt plan would not cover the applicant's pre-existing condition. None of the sales representatives GAO contacted engaged in potentially deceptive marketing practices that misrepresented or omitted information about the products they were selling. The results of GAO's covert tests are not generalizable to all sales representatives listed on healthcare.gov. Why GAO Did This Study PPACA directed each state to establish an exchange—referred to as a state-based exchange—or elect to use the federally facilitated exchange established by HHS. Each year the exchanges offer an open enrollment period during which eligible consumers may enroll in or change their coverage. Consumers enroll in the federally facilitated exchange through HHS's healthcare.gov website, and some state-based exchanges have chosen to use this website for enrollment. While individual health insurance coverage is generally regulated by states, starting in 2014, PPACA established a number of new federal requirements for individual health insurance coverage. For example, PPACA prohibited insurers from excluding coverage or charging higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. HHS regulations also require sales representatives that assist with or facilitate enrollment in PPACA-compliant plans sold through healthcare.gov to provide consumers with correct information, without omission of material fact, and refrain from marketing or conduct that is misleading. Sales representatives that are listed on healthcare.gov may also sell other types of health coverage arrangements that do not have to comply with some or all of PPACA's individual market requirements. As a result, the arrangements may be less expensive, but offer fewer benefits compared to PPACA-compliant plans. PPACA-exempt health coverage arrangements may be attractive to consumers, particularly those who find it difficult to afford PPACA-compliant plans. However, such arrangements generally do not need to follow PPACA's requirement that plans in the individual market be presented to consumers in defined categories outlining the extent to which they are expected to cover medical care. As a result, depending on how they are marketed and sold, PPACA-exempt arrangements could present risks for consumers, if, for example, they buy these plans mistakenly believing that coverage is as comprehensive as for PPACA-compliant plans. GAO was asked to obtain insights on the marketing and sales practices of sales representatives specifically listed on healthcare.gov. In this report, GAO describes the results of covert tests it conducted involving selected sales representatives listed on healthcare.gov when contacted by GAO undercover investigators posing as individuals needing to purchase health insurance to cover pre-existing conditions. GAO investigators performed these covert tests (i.e., undercover phone calls) from November 2020 to February 2021. GAO also discussed the oversight of PPACA-exempt arrangements with senior officials from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services within HHS, as well as officials from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, and reviewed information they provided. For more information, contact Seto J. Bagdoyan at (202) 512- 6722 or bagdoyans@gao.gov or Howard Arp at arpj@gao.gov.
    [Read More…]
  • Additional Restrictions on the Issuance of Visas for People’s Republic of China Officials Engaged in Human Rights Abuses
    In Crime Control and Security News
    Michael R. Pompeo, [Read More…]
  • Prison Official Charged with Accepting Bribes and Smuggling Contraband into Correctional Institution
    In Crime News
    A federal grand jury sitting in the Eastern District of North Carolina returned an indictment on Oct. 14 charging a North Carolina Department of Public Safety official with a bribery and smuggling scheme that funneled drugs and other contraband into Caledonia Correctional Institution.
    [Read More…]
  • Former DoD Employee Sentenced for Violently Assaulting Two Neighbors While Living Overseas
    In Crime News
    An Oklahoma City, Oklahoma man was sentenced today to 60 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release in the Western District of Oklahoma for assaulting two neighbors inside their apartment in Okinawa, Japan, while working for the U.S. Armed Forces overseas as a civilian engineer.
    [Read More…]
  • Three Operators of Financial Services Firm Charged and Arrested in Alleged $155 Million Investment Fraud Scheme
    In Crime News
    A three-count criminal indictment was unsealed yesterday in federal court in the Eastern District of New York charging Roberto Gustavo Cortes Ripalda, 54, of Madrid, Spain; Fernando Haberer Bergson, 48, of Buenos Aires, Argentina; and Ernesto Heraclito Weisson Pazmino, 53, of Miami, Florida, with conspiring to defraud investors and financial institutions as part of an international fraud scheme stretching through the United States, South America, and Europe. The defendants are each charged with conspiracy to commit wire fraud, conspiracy to commit bank fraud, and conspiracy to commit money laundering. Federal agents arrested Weisson in Miami yesterday. Cortes and Haberer were also arrested yesterday in Spain and Argentina, respectively. 
    [Read More…]
  • Military Vehicles: Army and Marine Corps Should Take Additional Actions to Mitigate and Prevent Training Accidents
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO Found The number of serious accidents involving Army and Marine Corps tactical vehicles, such as tanks and trucks, and the number of resulting deaths, fluctuated from fiscal years 2010 through 2019 (see figure). Driver inattentiveness, lapses in supervision, and lack of training were among the most common causes of these accidents, according to GAO analysis of Army and Marine Corps data. Number of Army and Marine Corps Class A and B Tactical Vehicle Accidents and Resulting Military Deaths, Fiscal Years 2010 through 2019 Note: Class A and B accidents have the most serious injuries and financial costs. The Army and Marine Corps established practices to mitigate and prevent tactical vehicle accidents, but units did not consistently implement these practices. GAO found that issues affecting vehicle commanders and unit safety officers hindered Army and Marine Corps efforts to implement risk management practices. For example, the Army and Marine Corps had not clearly defined the roles or put procedures and mechanisms in place for first-line supervisors, such as vehicle commanders, to effectively perform their role. As a result, implementation of risk management practices, such as following speed limits and using seat belts, was ad hoc among units. The Army and Marine Corps provide training for drivers of tactical vehicles that can include formal instruction, unit licensing, and follow-on training, but their respective programs to build driver skills and experience had gaps. GAO found that factors, such as vehicle type and unit priorities, affected the amount of training that vehicle drivers received. Further, licensing classes were often condensed into shorter periods of time than planned with limited drive time, and unit training focused on other priorities rather than driving, according to the units that GAO interviewed. The Army and Marine Corps have taken steps to improve their driver training programs, but have not developed a well-defined process with performance criteria and measurable standards to train their tactical vehicle drivers from basic qualifications to proficiency in diverse driving conditions, such as driving at night or over varied terrain. Developing performance criteria and measurable standards for training would better assure that Army and Marine Corps drivers have the skills to operate tactical vehicles safely and effectively. Why GAO Did This Study Tactical vehicles are used to train military personnel and to achieve a variety of missions. Both the Army and Marine Corps have experienced tactical vehicle accidents that resulted in deaths of military personnel during non-combat scenarios. GAO was asked to review issues related to the Army's and Marine Corps' use of tactical vehicles. Among other things, this report examines (1) trends from fiscal years 2010 through 2019 in reported Army and Marine Corps tactical vehicle accidents, deaths, and reported causes; and evaluates the extent to which the Army and Marine Corps have (2) taken steps to mitigate and prevent accidents during tactical vehicle operations; and (3) provided personnel with training to build the skills and experience needed to drive tactical vehicles. GAO analyzed accident data from fiscal years 2010 through 2019 (the most recent full year of data at the time of analysis); reviewed documents; and interviewed officials from a non-generalizable sample of units and training ranges selected based on factors, such as locations where accidents occurred.
    [Read More…]
  • Justice Department and EPA Reach Clean Air Act Settlement with Gear Box Z for Selling Defeat Devices
    In Crime News
    Arizona-based Gear Box Z (GBZ) has agreed to stop manufacturing and selling aftermarket automotive products widely known as “defeat devices,” that, when installed, bypass, defeat or render inoperative Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)-certified emission controls on motor vehicles thereby increasing emissions and harming air quality.
    [Read More…]
  • Assistant Attorney General Beth A. Williams Delivers Remarks at Columbia Law School Virtual Event on Combating the Online Exploitation of Children
    In Crime News
    Good afternoon, everyone, and thank you for joining us today for a conversation on one of the most pressing challenges we face – the continuing fight against the online exploitation of children.  I want to thank Berit Berger and Columbia Law School for hosting us virtually, and for putting together this event on such an important subject.
    [Read More…]
  • Operation Legend: Case of the Day
    In Crime News
    Each weekday, the Department of Justice will highlight a case that has resulted from Operation Legend.  Today’s case is out of the Western District of Missouri.  Operation Legend launched in Kansas City on July 8, 2020, in response to the city facing increased homicide and non-fatal shooting rates.
    [Read More…]

Crime

Network News © 2005 Area.Control.Network™ All rights reserved.