January 25, 2022

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Used Motor Vehicle Dealers Sentenced in Odometer Tampering Scheme

10 min read
<div>Yesterday, in federal court in Brooklyn, Shmuel Gali was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto to 60 months’ imprisonment for his role in a long-running odometer tampering and money laundering scheme and ordered to pay $3,936,000 in restitution. The defendant pleaded guilty in August 2020 to conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit odometer tampering, making false odometer statements and securities fraud.</div>
Yesterday, in federal court in Brooklyn, Shmuel Gali was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Kiyo A. Matsumoto to 60 months’ imprisonment for his role in a long-running odometer tampering and money laundering scheme and ordered to pay $3,936,000 in restitution. The defendant pleaded guilty in August 2020 to conspiracy to commit money laundering, conspiracy to commit odometer tampering, making false odometer statements and securities fraud.

More from: June 29, 2021

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  • Defense Infrastructure: DOD Can Improve Its Response to Environmental Exposures on Military Installations
    In U.S GAO News
    What GAO FoundDOD relies on four types of policies to identify and respond to many but not all aspects of environmental exposures: (1) environmental restoration policies address hazardous releases at military Installations; (2) occupational and environmental health policies address workplace exposures; (3) deployment health policies address the collection of occupational and environmental health data for deployed individuals; and (4) public health emergency management policies. Nonetheless, there are some limitations in the policies’ coverage. For example, DOD’s environmental restoration policies do not specify when to conduct public health assessments at its sites beyond the initial assessment of certain priority sites required by the Superfund law. In addition, DOD has not fully documented its responses to recommendations that result from the assessments. DOD officials responsible for oversight reported that they did not know what actions, if any, installations had taken on about 80 percent of the recommendations. Without a comprehensive tracking system, DOD has no assurance that it is addressing recommendations appropriately and could be missing opportunities to identify and resolve concerns about some health threats. Further, DOD has no policy guiding services and their installations on appropriate actions to address health risks from past exposures, which DOD attributes to the Superfund law not specifically requiring responsible parties to address such risks.Although several programs potentially provide either health care or compensation to various types of individuals suffering from environmental exposures, the ability of some individuals to actually obtain benefits—particularly compensation—is often complicated by documentary, scientific, and legal factors. First, it is often difficult to document an environmental exposure because they are often not always identified at the time they occurred. Second, it is often difficult to establish causation between an environmental exposure and a health condition, because scientific research has not always established a clear link. Third, although under certain circumstances some individuals have legal standing under the Federal Tort Claims Act to file a lawsuit against the U.S. government for damages due to an environmental exposure, damages under the Federal Tort Claims Act are not available to other types of individuals, and for certain types of claims due to legal precedent or statutes.In several cases, Congress has established alternative programs to provide compensation to specific populations exposed to specific environmental hazards, such as for individuals involved in the production of nuclear weapons and those who worked in coal mines. Agency officials in charge of managing these alternative programs told us that certain features of these programs have proven to be beneficial to both claimants and administrators and should be considered for inclusion if any future programs are established to compensate individuals for environmental exposures on military installations. For example, Department of Labor and Department of Justice officials told GAO a compensation program that resolves claims in a nonadversarial manner and provides outreach to potential claimants is more beneficial to both claimants and administrators. In contrast, a more adversarial with limited claimant assistance usually leads to delays and increased cost for both claimants and the agency adjudicating claims.Why GAO Did This StudyThere have been various reported incidents of individuals being potentially exposed to environmental hazards while on military installations. Indeed, some incidents, such as contaminated air due to burn pits in Afghanistan and Iraq and contaminated water at Camp Lejeune, North Carolina, have received considerable attention, and in the case of Camp Lejeune have resulted in claims seeking billions of dollars from the government.Public Law 111-383, §314(2011) directed GAO to assess Department of Defense (DOD) policies regarding environmental exposures. GAO’s objectives were to determine (1) the extent to which DOD has policies that identify and respond to environmental exposures, (2) what programs exist to provide health care or compensation to individuals for environmental exposures, and (3) which features of other federal programs may provide options in designing future compensation programs. GAO briefed the Armed Services Committees in December 2011, to satisfy the mandate. To address these objectives, GAO reviewed relevant documentation, visited installations, and interviewed relevant officials.
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  • Indian Health Service: Actions Needed to Improve Oversight of Provider Misconduct and Substandard Performance
    In U.S GAO News
    The Indian Health Service's (IHS) policies related to provider misconduct and substandard performance outline several key aspects of oversight, such as protecting children against sexual abuse by providers, ethical and professional conduct, and processes for managing an alleged case of misconduct. Although the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) or IHS headquarters have established most of these policies, area offices that are responsible for overseeing facility operations and facilities, such as hospitals, may develop and issue their own policies as long as they are consistent with headquarters' policies, according to officials. Although some oversight activities are performed at IHS headquarters, IHS has delegated primary responsibility for oversight of provider misconduct and substandard performance to the area offices. However, GAO found some inconsistencies in oversight activities across IHS areas and facilities. For example, Although all nine area offices require that new supervisors attend mandatory supervisory training, most area offices provided additional trainings related to provider misconduct and substandard performance. The content of these additional trainings varied across area offices. For example, three area offices offered training on conducting investigations of alleged misconduct, while other area offices did not. Officials from IHS headquarters told GAO they do not systematically review trainings developed by the areas to ensure they are consistent with policy or IHS-wide training. Facility governing boards—made up of IHS area office officials, including the Area Director, and facility officials, such as the Chief Executive Officer—are responsible for overseeing each facility's quality of and access to care. They generally review information related to provider misconduct and substandard performance. However, there is no standard format used by governing boards to document their review, making it difficult to determine the extent this oversight is consistently conducted. In some cases, there was no documentation by governing boards of a discussion about provider misconduct or substandard performance. For example, none of the seven governing board meeting minutes provided from one area office documented their discussion of patient complaints. In other cases, there was detailed documentation of the governing board's review. Additionally, governing boards did not always clearly document how or why an oversight decision, such as whether to grant privileges to a provider, had been made based on their review of available information. These inconsistencies in IHS's oversight activities could limit the agency's efforts to oversee provider misconduct and substandard performance. For example, by not reviewing trainings developed by area offices, IHS headquarters may also be unable to identify gaps in staff knowledge or best practices that could be applied across area offices. Addressing these inconsistencies would better position the agency to effectively protect patients from abuse and harm resulting from provider misconduct or substandard performance. IHS provides care to American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) through a system of federally and tribally operated facilities. Recent cases of alleged and confirmed misconduct and substandard performance by IHS employees have raised questions about protecting the AI/AN population from abuse and harm. For example, in February 2020, a former IHS pediatrician was sentenced to five consecutive lifetime terms for multiple sex offenses against children. Several studies have been initiated or completed in response, and IHS has reported efforts to enhance safe and quality care for its patients. GAO was asked to review IHS oversight of misconduct and substandard performance. This report (1) describes IHS policies related to provider misconduct and substandard performance and (2) assesses IHS oversight of provider misconduct and substandard performance. GAO reviewed policies and documents, including minutes from 80 governing board meetings from January 2018 to December 2019. GAO also interviewed IHS officials from headquarters, all nine area offices with two or more federally operated facilities, and two federally operated facilities. GAO is making three recommendations, including that IHS should establish a process to review area office trainings as well as establish a standard approach for documenting governing board review of information. HHS concurred with these recommendations. For more information, contact Jessica Farb at (202) 512-7114 or farbj@gao.gov.
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  • Anesthesia Services: Differences between Private and Medicare Payments Likely Due to Providers’ Strong Negotiating Position
    In U.S GAO News
    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.
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  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems: New DOD Programs Can Learn from Past Efforts to Craft Better and Less Risky Acquisition Strategies
    In U.S GAO News
    Through 2011, the Department of Defense (DOD) plans to spend $20 billion to significantly increase its inventory of unmanned aircraft systems, which are providing new intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike capabilities to U.S. combat forces--including those in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite their success on the battlefield, DOD's unmanned aircraft programs have experienced cost and schedule overruns and performance shortfalls. Given the sizable planned investment in these systems, GAO was asked to review DOD's three largest unmanned aircraft programs in terms of cost. Specifically, GAO assessed the Global Hawk and Predator programs' acquisition strategies and identified lessons from these two programs that can be applied to the Joint Unmanned Combat Air Systems (J-UCAS) program, the next generation of unmanned aircraft.While the Global Hawk and Predator both began as successful demonstration programs, they adopted different acquisition strategies that have led to different outcomes. With substantial overlap in development, testing, and production, the Global Hawk program has experienced serious cost, schedule, and performance problems. As a result, since the approved start of system development, planned quantities of the Global Hawk have decreased 19 percent, and acquisition unit costs have increased 75 percent. In contrast, the Predator program adopted a more structured acquisition strategy that uses an incremental, or evolutionary, approach to development--an approach more consistent with DOD's revised acquisition policy preferences and commercial best practices. While the Predator program has experienced some problems, the program's cost growth and schedule delays have been relatively minor, and testing of prototypes in operational environments has already begun. Since its inception as a joint program in 2003, the J-UCAS program has experienced funding cuts and leadership changes, and the recent Quadrennial Defense Review has directed another restructuring into a Navy program to develop a carrier-based unmanned combat air system. Regardless of these setbacks and the program's future organization, DOD still has the opportunity to learn from the lessons of the Global Hawk and Predator programs. Until DOD develops the knowledge needed to prepare solid and feasible business cases to support the acquisition of J-UCAS and other advanced unmanned aircraft systems, it will continue to risk cost and schedule overruns and delaying fielding capabilities to the warfighter.
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