Firm Hired to Implement Obamacare Under Investigation for Fraud

Via The Daily Caller:

A British multinational being paid $1.2 billion to implement Obamacare’s federal insurance exchanges is under investigation after allegedly overcharging the British government by tens of millions of dollars.

Reuters reports that Britain’s Serious Fraud Office is now looking into Serco, a massive service and security firm employing 120,000 worldwide, after the company reportedly overbilled its government client as much as $80 million for criminal electronic monitoring devices.

Around one in six of the criminals listed were already in prison, had left the country, were not required to wear a device, or were even dead.

The alleged fraud prompted an audit from the U.K.’s Ministry of Justice earlier this summer. Late last week, the ministry sent information from that audit to the Serious Fraud Office, asking that it consider a criminal case against the company.

In early July, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) granted Serco a $1.25 billion contract to review and process paper insurance applications for Obamacare’s 34 federally-operated state exchanges. News of the investigation broke days later, and the Obama administration rushed to defend its corporate partner.

“Serco is a highly-skilled company that has a proven track record in providing cost-effective services to numerous other federal agencies,” said a spokesman for HHS’ Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, the agency charged with implementing the exchanges.

“The selection met all of the requirements for a full and open competition,” he continued, “and the timing enables us to be ready for marketplace open enrollment starting on October 1.”

Alan Hill, the spokesman for Serco’s American subsidiary, told The Washington Post in July that a “firewall” existed between the American and British wings of the company. “When a foreign entity is involved, I think that means that U.S. interests are protected,” he said.

The firm has already hired hundreds of new employees to fill Obamacare processing centers in Missouri, Arkansas and Kentucky. The Missouri office alone filled 600 new jobs in the last week in preparation for the individual exchange roll-out scheduled for Tuesday.

Serco already handles processing and records management for many U.S. agencies, including the Patent and Trademark Office and portions of the Department of Homeland Security. But this is their first foray into health care, at least in the United States.

In Britain, Serco operates off-hour general care clinics for the state-run National Health Service. Last September, The Guardian revealed that the company had presented false data on the performance of these clinics 252 separate times.

“To falsify returns once is once too many,” a former Conservative health secretary said at the time. “To falsify 252 times represents a pattern of behavior which should lead to a full review.”

All of Serco’s British contracts are currently under review. In a statement released last Thursday, the company claimed it had properly billed the U.K. government for the monitoring devices and pledged to continue cooperating fully with the Ministry of Justice.

Advertisements

NBC to Promote Obamacare

Via Breitbart:

NBC News has announced that it will air a special series that will “help Americans get the most out of the Affordable Care Act.”

A press release reports that NBC News will “help” Americans get all they can out of Obamacare.

“The Affordable Care Act goes into effect on October 1st,” the press release says, “but what does this mean for you and your family?”

NBC then promises it will “devote special coverage” with the series being titled “Ready or Not, the New Healthcare Law.”

The network says the series will be dedicated to “explaining the complexities of the ACA and its impact on consumers.”

NBC also helpfully adds a link to its website that will show viewers “how to enroll.”

Dr. Nancy Snyderman, NBC News healthcare commentator, says, “The sweeping federal law is confusing. We are committed to answering questions and serving as a guide as this legislation is implemented.”

UN Censors 15 Years of Raw Data That Contradicts Anthropogenic Global Warming

Via Fox News:

The Earth has changed in “unprecedented ways” since 1950, the U.N. says, and its scientists are 95 percent certain that humans are responsible.

Yet the planet has largely stopped warming over the past 15 years, data shows — and a landmark report released Friday by the U.N.’s climate group could not explain why the mercury has stopped rising.

Global surface temperatures rose rapidly during the 70s, but have been relatively flat over the past decade and a half, rising only 0.05 degrees Celsius (0.09 degrees Fahrenheit) per decade according to data from the U.K.’s weather-watching Met Office, a trend current models of the world’s climate have been unable to predict. A draft of the report leaked in early September acknowledged that trend and put it bluntly: We simply can’t explain it.

“Models do not generally reproduce the observed reduction in surface warming trend over the last 10–15 years.”

But a final version of the report released Friday morning by the U.N.’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) strips out the failure of models and explains away the downward trend.

‘There may also be … an overestimate of the response to increasing greenhouse gas and other anthropogenic forcing.’

– U.N. climate report

“Due to natural variability, trends based on short records are very sensitive to the beginning and end dates and do not in general reflect long-term climate trends,” the new report reads.

A later reference suggests volcanoes, oceans and solar activity may have affected the warming, although the IPCC said it wasn’t confident in that finding.

The U.N. arm also acknowledges another possibility: Maybe it was wrong.

“There may also be … an overestimate of the response to increasing greenhouse gas and other anthropogenic forcing,” the new report admits.

Climate skeptics have seized upon the change in world weather patterns, some citing it as evidence that global warming itself has decelerated or even stopped. Benny Peiser, director of the Global Warming Policy Foundation, said the slowdown was a far larger issue than the report shows.

“Unless global temperature will begin to rise again in the next few years, the IPCC is very likely going to suffer an existential blow to its credibility,” he said. Judith Curry, professor and chair of the School of Earth and Atmospheric Sciences at the Georgia Institute of Technology, was even blunter.

“IPCC has thrown down the gauntlet – if the pause continues beyond 15 years (well it already has), they are toast.”

Many governments had objections over how the issue was treated in earlier drafts and some had called for it to be deleted altogether. In a Friday morning presentation of its findings, Thomas Stocker, co-chair of the group that wrote the report, defended that decision, the Associated Press reported.

“An old rule says that climate-relevant trends should not be calculated for periods less than around 30 years,” Stocker said.

Many scientists say the slowdown reflects random climate fluctuations and an unusually hot year, 1998, picked as a starting point for charting temperatures. Another leading hypothesis is that heat is settling temporarily in the oceans.

Stocker said there wasn’t enough literature on “this emerging question.”

The IPCC said the evidence of climate change has grown thanks to more and better observations, a clearer understanding of the climate system and improved models to analyze the impact of rising temperatures.

“Our assessment of the science finds that the atmosphere and ocean have warmed, the amount of snow and ice has diminished, the global mean sea level has risen and the concentrations of greenhouse gases have increased,” said Qin Dahe, co-chair of the working group that wrote the report.

Yet recent reports have stressed that climate models have failed to accurately predict global temperatures. A study in the journal Nature Climate Change compared 117 climate predictions made in the 1990’s to the actual amount of warming. Out of 117 predictions, the study’s author told FoxNews.com, 3 were roughly accurate and 114 overestimated the amount of warming.

On average, the predictions forecasted two times more global warming than actually occurred.

“It’s a real problem … it shows that there really is something that needs to be fixed in the climate models,” climate scientist John Christy, a professor at the University of Alabama in Huntsville, told FoxNews.com at the time.

List of 27 RINO Traitors Who Voted for Obamacare

Via The Daley Gator:

Lamar Alexander (TN) – Contact
Kelly Ayotte (NH) – Contact
John Barrasso (WY) – Contact
Roy Blunt (MO) – Contact
John Boozman (AR) – Contact
Richard Burr (NC) – Contact
Saxby Chambliss (GA) – Contact
Jeff Chiesa (NJ) – Contact
Daniel Coats (IN) – Contact
Tom Coburn (OK) – Contact
Thad Cochran (MS) – Contact
Susan Collins (ME) – Contact
Bob Corker (TN) – Contact
John Cornyn (TX) – Contact
Jeff Flake (AZ) – Not Present For Vote – Contact
Lindsey Graham (SC) – Contact
Orrin Hatch (UT) – Not Present For Vote – Contact
John Hoeven (ND) – Contact
Johnny Isakson (GA) – Contact
Mike Johanns (NE) – Contact
Ron Johnson (WI) – Contact
Mark Kirk (IL) – Contact
John McCain (AZ) – Contact
Mitch McConnell (KY) – Contact
Lisa Murkowski (AK) – Contact
John Thune (SD) – Contact
Roger Wicker(MS) – Contact

Obamacare to Create Insurance Monopolies

Via The Daily Caller:

Rep. Renee Ellmers raised awareness of a new problem with Obamacare’s implementation: the creation of private-sector health insurance monopolies that will limit Americans’ provider choices.

The major health insurance company Blue Cross Blue Shield, which is closely coordinating with the White House on Obamacare implementation, will enjoy perhaps the greatest monopoly of all, the North Carolina Republican said in a statement.

“Although seven insurance companies currently operate in North Carolina, under the new Obamacare exchanges, those options will dwindle down to one in the majority of counties,” Ellmers said Thursday following the disclosure of figures by federal health officials showing that more than 60 percent of North Carolina counties will have only one insurance provider option under Obamacare: Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“The whole point of an online marketplace was to provide options, so North Carolinians could go online, compare prices, and choose plans from different companies. That is how competition is supposed to work!,” Ellmers said.

Beginning October 1 under Obamacare, Blue Cross Blue Shield will be the only health insurance provider serving the entire state of North Carolina in the new Obamacare exchanges, serving all 100 of the state’s counties. Its competitor Coventry Health Care, which is owned by Aetna, will only reach 39 counties.

That leaves 61 counties, or 61 percent of all the state’s counties, in a Blue Cross Blue Shield-only zone.

The battle between Blue Cross and Aetna is waging across the country, and Blue Cross is winning.

Aetna has opted not to participate in Obamacare exchanges in numerous states including New York, Connecticut, Ohio, Maryland, Tennessee, and Texas.

In West Virginia, where Carelink Health Plans, run by Aetna-owned Coventry Health Care, withdrew from the state’s Obamacare exchange, Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield will be the only available insurance provider for Obamacare consumers.

Aetna announced this week that it would still serve all of Pennsylvania’s counties under Obamacare, following concern that the company would be opting out of the Keystone State’s exchanges, as well.

At least five Blue Cross Blue Shield executives joined President Obama for a closed White House conference in April on Obamacare implementation, accounting for approximately half of the executives present. No Aetna executives were at the meeting.

Blue Cross Blue Shield plans are even engaging in community organizing efforts in Louisiana, where the company is leading the state’s education campaign about enrollment in the unpopular health care exchanges.

“Most of them [Blue Cross competitors] are choosing only to sell off the exchange, which is not serving everyone in some of the poorer counties,” Lew Boreman, spokesperson for Blue Cross Blue Shield North Carolina, told The Daily Caller.

“Everyone was invited. A number of them are participating. It’s not a monopoly if everyone was invited to the dance but not everyone chose to show up,” Boreman said.

Boreman declined to comment on his company’s evident business disagreement with Aetna, or on how the Obamacare exchanges may be helping his company’s bottom line.

“We are out there taking this seriously. When we were called to serve the state of North Carolina with health insurance, we answered that call…We’re committed to enforcing the law of the land,” Boreman said.

Obama Admin. to Turn Cameras on Border Patrol Agents, Monitor for “Excessive Force”

Related: Assaults on Border Patrol Agents on the Rise

Via The Washington Free Beacon:

The border patrol union is condemning the decision announced yesterday by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) that video cameras will be tested to monitor agents to curb the use of excessive force.

“This is a knee-jerk reaction by CBP that will result in agents hesitating to use force to defend themselves, resulting in more injured and murdered agents,” Shawn Moran, vice president of the National Border Patrol Council (NBPC), said in a press statement.  “It’s wrong to place these men and women in even greater danger than they’re already in to placate the demands of a few fringe organizations.”

The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) recommended the camera use.

Stuart Harris, vice president of the NBPC Local 1929 in El Paso, Texas, said the use of cameras is “concerning” to him for many reasons. The El Paso sector of the U.S.-Mexico border has been “designated as a high risk assault area” and the cameras may put his agents in unnecessary danger.

“It may cause the agents to hesitate, and in a deadly force situation, it could cost him his life.,” Harris said. “I don’t want to see one of my agents killed because he hesitated.”

The NBPC union cited privacy concerns and highlighted the extensive training in use of force that agents already receive.

The NBPC also pointed out that the millions of dollars in costs for the program comes “at a time when Border Patrol agents are lacking basic resources to secure the border and a long-overdue pay reform package.”

“Where is the money coming from?” Harris asked. “Does that mean less agents in the field, and less technology to secure the border?”

He also said that under sequestration, agents are spending less time in the field.

The cameras will be used in conjunction with other technology to reduce the number of incidents in which force is used, the CBP said. It will also protect agents against false allegations.

The ACLU in a statement  said the cameras are not enough.

The CBP’s announcement, “while representing an important advance, are limited in scope and vision,” said Vicki B. Gaubeca, director of the ACLU of New Mexico’s Regional Center for Border Rights.

“The biggest missing piece here is clear and transparent accountability for officers involved in use-of-force incidents that lead to serious physical injury or death. Without a commitment to end the culture of impunity at CBP, the agency’s good first steps will lead nowhere,” Gaubeca said.

The ACLU made recommendations to address the use of force and submitted them to the CBP, the Department of Homeland Security, and the White House. They include the body-worn cameras for border patrol agents. The group’s recommendations were posted on its site two days ago.

“If fully incorporated, our recommendations would help ensure that CBP officers are trained in and held to the highest professional law enforcement standards,” Ruthie Epstein, an ACLU policy analyst said. “Given the political appetite for more enforcement at an already militarized border, we need a stronger commitment from CBP to radically reform its use of force practices than the two-page plan it issued today.”

Harris said he doesn’t understand why the CBP is taking its recommendations from the ACLU.

“I guess it’s easier for them to bow down than to stand up for their agents,” he said. “It’s one of the reasons morale is so low in this field. Agents have to watch out for attacks by its own agency.”

The NBPC is now calling on the CBP to “open its books and provide the real story regarding the actual number of use of force incidents involving border patrol agents and whether force was justified.”

Additionally, the union wants “transparency” regarding the criminal histories of those who have alleged agents’ use of force. It also is calling for a release of the number of assaults on border patrol agents.

The Department of Homeland Security’s Office of the Inspector General in a recent report  said that of 21,000 records of possible excessive force, 1,187 were identified as “possible” allegations related to excessive force. They included “physical abuse (punching, kicking and pushing) during apprehension, and use of an electronic control device, baton or pepper spray.”

The Inspector General report also detailed a total of 6,182 assaults on border patrol agents from 2006 to 2012 with most occurring on the southwest border. The report was initiated by Sen. Bob Menendez (D., N.J.) and 15 other members of Congress after the death of an undocumented immigrant was revealed in a 2012 PBS media report.

Seditious Democrats Leak Issa’s Trip to Benghazi in Attempt to Obstruct Investigation

Via The Daily Caller:

A leaked State Department email indicates that officials were worried about the safety of House Oversight Committee chairman Rep. Darrell Issa after Democrats revealed his plans for a secret trip to Libya this week.

Issa, a Republican from California, has safely returned from his fact-finding trip to the country as his committee continues to investigate the terrorist attacks that killed America’s ambassador and three others in Benghazi on Sept. 11, 2012.

CBS News reported Thursday on an email that quoted a Libyan national sharing “his concern and his opinion that Representative Issa should not come to Libya for his own safety.”

The email reports that the Libyan thinks, “the people who would harm Rep. Issa are the same people who conducted the Benghazi attacks.”

Before Issa’s trip, Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, issued a press release asking Issa to postpone his trip until he allows Democrats to join him.

“Although you claim that your investigation of the Benghazi attacks is bipartisan, your efforts to secretly plan an official trip to Libya — and then deliberately exclude Democrats from joining — is part of an unfortunate pattern of partisanship that undermines the credibility of this investigation,” Cummings wrote. “The problem with these actions is that they effectively deny Democratic Members the ability to effectively investigate this incident.”

Issa’s office responded on Thursday by lamenting the situation.

“Ranking Member Elijah Cummings’ reckless release of information was not going to deter Chairman Issa from conducting his oversight responsibilities in the wake of the Benghazi tragedy,” Issa spokesman Frederick Hill told The Daily Caller. “Fortunately, despite the media attention and resulting threat, no security incident occurred during Rep. Issa’s time in Libya.”

Obama Admin. Quietly Issues Obamacare Delay for Latinos

Via The Hill:

The Obama administration is delaying ObamaCare enrollment for small businesses and Spanish speakers.

Small businesses will not be able to buy health insurance through new online marketplaces when they launch next week, the Health and Human Services Department said.

Republicans seized on the delay to argue that the healthcare law is destined to fail.

“It is obvious that the administration is just as unprepared for Obamacare’s Oct. 1st start date as the rest of the country,” Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) said in a statement.

HHS said the new marketplaces for small businesses, known as SHOP exchanges, will open on Oct. 1 for employers to review their options. But employers won’t be able to sign up online until November.

Employers will still be able to sign up by mail or fax beginning Oct. 1. And online applications would be available in November, HHS said, so employers’ coverage can still take effect as scheduled at the beginning of next year.

President Obama and members of the administration have long said they expect delays and “glitches” as the exchanges come online — and Obama reiterated that point in a speech that ended just before news of the latest delays broke.

White House press secretary Jay Carney dismissed concerns over the small business delay, saying that “what is absolutely true is that on Oct. 1, everyone will be able to enroll one way or another.”

Carney also noted that unlike with individual enrollees, who must register within the first six months, small businesses could buy into the exchanges at any time.

“The small business program is forever open,” Carney said.

But Republicans said the evidence is mounting that ObamaCare isn’t ready for prime time.

“Unbelievable, did anyone tell the president that his administration is delaying another piece of ObamaCare before he tried swindling the American people again?” Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said in a statement. “It’s clear all Americans deserve a delay from this trainwreck, maybe even more Democrats will get on board with Republican efforts now.”

The Spanish-language version of healthcare.gov, the federal portal for ObamaCare enrollment, also would not be able to process applications when it launches next week, according to The Associated Press.

Enrolling Latinos is a key goal for the White House. The administration and its allies have focused their outreach campaign primarily on states with large Hispanic populations and large numbers of uninsured people, including Texas, Florida and California.

Carney said Spanish speakers will be available by telephone to walk enrollees through the registration process. He also said 70 percent of Hispanic Americans will be accessing the registration through the English language portal.

Thursday’s setbacks are the latest in a series of technical glitches ahead of the Oct. 1 launch date for new insurance marketplaces, also known as exchanges.

Oregon has said its exchanges would not be open to the public, but only to brokers and “navigators” who help people shop for coverage, when it launches next week.

Washington, D.C., said Wednesday that its exchange would not be able to calculate the cost of insurance plans until November. Washington’s exchange isn’t yet ready to calculate eligibility for Medicaid or tax subsidies to help people buy private insurance.

And Thursday’s delay isn’t the first setback for small businesses. Earlier, the administration announced a one-year delay in a provision allowing small businesses to give their employees a choice of multiple plans. Businesses will only be able to offer one plan until 2015.

The administration has also delayed the mandate requiring large employers to offer healthcare to their workers or pay a penalty.

Obama Admin. Blocking Background Checks of Blacks

Via Fox News:

Attorneys general across the country are fighting back against new Obama administration guidelines on businesses using criminal background checks for job applicants and two federal lawsuits that followed, calling both “a quintessential example of gross federal overreach.”

The nine attorneys general sent the letter Wednesday to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which in April 2012 voted in favor of the new guidelines that warn such checks can discriminate against African-Americans because they being are arrested at a disproportionate rate compared to the rest of the U.S. population.

Fifteen months after issuing the guidelines — which included the recommendation that businesses eliminate such policies — the commission filed lawsuits against discount retailer Dollar General and a BMW facility in South Carolina for alleged civil rights violations.

“We believe that these lawsuits and your application of the law, as articulated through your enforcement guidance, are misguided and a quintessential example of gross federal overreach,” the attorneys general wrote in a nine-page letter to EEOC Chairman Jacqueline Berrien and the agency’s four commissioners.

The June 11 suits allege Dollar General violated the civil rights of two applicants. In the one case, the applicant alleged she was denied employment even though a felony conviction was incorrectly attributed to her.

In the BMW case, the EEOC alleges that when the company required contract employees at the South Carolina plant to reapply for their jobs in 2008 a disproportionate percentage of those terminated were black, including some who had already worked for company contractors.

The suit also alleges BMW’s policy doesn’t consider the nature of the crimes or how long ago they were committed.

All of the claimants are black, and both cases are filed in federal court, according to the EEOC.

The commission said upon updating the policy that civil rights laws already prohibit different treatment for job applicants with different ethnic backgrounds but identical criminal histories.

However, the updates were issued out of concern that employers might disproportionately exclude minorities from getting hired because more African Americans and Hispanics are getting arrested and going to prison, according to the guideline report.

While the percentage of working-age Americans with a criminal record has increased significantly over the past 20 years, African Americans and Hispanics are arrested two to three times as much compared with the rest of the U.S. population, according to a commission report at the time of the vote.

Still, the suits have re-ignited concerns over such issues as potential federal overreach, the overlap of state and federal law and companies losing their rights to protect customers, workers and assets while trying to adhere to fair hiring practices.

Kevin Connell, chairman of the Florida-based employment and tenant screening company AccuScreen.com, told FoxNews.com on Saturday he doesn’t expect the EEOC to reverse course, but the letter is a step in the right direction.

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” he said. “My concern is the EEOC is trying to create a protected classes, which is former criminals. Anybody with some intelligence can see that.”

The letter also asks the EEOC to reconsider the lawsuits and the changes driving the suits. And it argues the guideline suggesting businesses take a more “individual assessment” of potential employees will add significant costs and become a “burden” to companies.

West Virginia Attorney General Patrick Morrisey said he has a special concern with the EEOC’s “aggressive overreach” – considering Dollar General in one of the state’s largest private employers.

The other eight attorneys general are from Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, South Carolina and Utah.

BMW spokesman Kenn Sparks said last month the company cannot comment on the specifics of pending litigation.

“However, BMW believes that it has complied with the letter and spirit of the law and will defend itself against the EEOC’s allegations of race discrimination,” he told FoxNews.com.

Dollar General responded to the suit by reportedly saying it prohibits discriminatory hiring in its employment practices but its criminal background checks are “structured to foster a safe and healthy environment for its employees, its customers, and to protect its assets in a lawful, reasonable and nondiscriminatory manner.”