Viewpoints: Questions Obama, Romney Not Likely To Answer In Debates; Disturbing News On Tests For Ovarian Cancer The New York Times: False Promises On Ovarian Cancer New evidence that women are more likely to be harmed than helped by screening tests for ovarian cancer is disturbing. The tests do nothing to prevent healthy women from dying from the usually fatal disease. Yet they often lead doctors to perform needless surgeries that cause serious complications in many patients (9/11). The Washington Post: Some Debate Questions For Obama And Romney President Obama, you have denounced Gov. Romney’s Medicare plan for putting too much risk on seniors. But isn’t the idea of providing subsidies, adjusted for health status and income, to let individuals purchase insurance on well-regulated exchanges just like Obamacare — except with a public option in the form of letting seniors buy into traditional Medicare? Instead, you have said you will fix Medicare by reducing health-care costs overall. How? … Gov. Romney, a recent study in the New England Journal of Medicine projects that Medicare costs will grow 1.2 percentage points more slowly than private insurance over the next decade. If so, how would shifting seniors to private insurance save money (Ruth Marcus, 9/11)?San Jose Mercury News: Romney Obfuscates On Health Care PlansWhen Mitt Romney said last weekend that he would keep health care reform’s requirement that insurers cover pre-existing conditions, he left people scratching their heads. Hasn’t he called Obamacare a disaster and pledged to repeal all of it? He has and, according to his staff, he still does. … Even if Romney had had a sudden change of heart, what he said made no sense. Keeping the pre-existing coverage requirement while repealing the individual mandate to buy insurance, which Romney clearly would do, is impossible. Premiums for people who did choose to buy insurance would skyrocket (9/11).The Wall Street Journal: The Day Health Insurance Died Angela Braly lost the hang of the CEO’s performance art. Shareholders like their surprises on the upside. She kept delivering downside surprises. Two weeks ago, amid a clamor from investors, she stepped down as chief of America’s biggest private health insurer, WellPoint. But Mrs. Braly should be remembered for another long-running act of futility—trying to explain to Washington how insurance works (Holman W. Jenkins Jr., 9/11). Bloomberg: How Much Health Care Spending Is Wasted? Lots.The evidence thus suggests that in both Medicare and in private-insurance markets, higher costs are not associated with better quality. That underscores the opportunity identified by the Institute of Medicine: By reducing the very high costs that are not generating better quality, the U.S. could reduce total spending without diminishing the quality of care people receive…. As I have said before, the next decade is crucial. The U.S. can either move more aggressively to change the information that providers have and boost their incentives to give better care, or waste another decade and trillions more in excess health-care costs (Peter Orszag, 9/11).The Boston Globe: The Cheesecake Factory Isn’t Health Care’s AnswerIn their drive to cut costs and produce better patient outcomes, American health care policy makers and administrators are embracing a variety of work re-organization schemes borrowed from other industries. Some boast of their “Toyota lean” approach to health care delivery. Others have looked to Disney World for new ideas. The newest business model being touted is the chain restaurant The Cheesecake Factory. (Suzanne Gordon, 9/11) Roll Call: CMS’ Proposed Cuts Threaten PatientsIn today’s fiscal environment, health care providers are accustomed to reimbursement cuts to a great many services. We don’t like them, but we’ve come to expect them, and we’ve all learned to do more with less. When policymakers are tasked with encouraging better outcomes and greater efficiency in the system, we expect decision-makers in Washington, D.C., to take well-informed actions based on quality data and in a manner that puts patients first. It doesn’t always happen that way. To the collective shock of cancer care providers nationwide, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services recently proposed a cut of 15 percent to freestanding radiation therapy providers (Christopher M. Rose, 9/12).Bloomberg: Ban Calories, Not Ounces, To Regulate Sugary BeveragesThe health issue is sugar and calories. We should look at the total calories in the bottle, not the number of fluid ounces. My alternative proposal would be to limit or tax drinks with more than some total amount of calories from sugar (Barry Nalebuff, 9/11). This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Republican foes of the overhaul came out of the confrontation with only a tweak to income verification rules for those seeking subsidies to buy coverage on the new health insurance exchanges. The agreement created a new budget deadline, however, requiring lawmakers to return to the table to reach a long-term deficit reduction agreement by Dec. 13.The New York Times: Republicans Back Down, Ending Crisis Over Shutdown and Debt LimitCongressional Republicans conceded defeat on Wednesday in their bitter budget fight with President Obama over the new health care law as the House and Senate approved last-minute legislation ending a disruptive 16-day government shutdown and extending federal borrowing power to avert a financial default with potentially worldwide economic repercussions. … The shutdown sent Republican poll ratings plunging, cost the government billions of dollars and damaged the nation’s international credibility. Mr. Obama refused to compromise, leaving Republican leaders to beg him to talk, and to fulminate when he refused. For all that, Republicans got a slight tightening of income verification rules for Americans accessing new health insurance exchanges created by the Affordable Care Act (Weisman and Parker, 10/16).Los Angeles Times: Government Crisis Is Averted – For NowRepublicans had sought the confrontation in hopes that a shutdown and the threat of default would give them leverage to extract concessions from Obama on his signature healthcare law. In the end, the compromise negotiated by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) made no significant changes in the Affordable Care Act. … The bill includes one change in the healthcare law: It requires the government to verify the income of those Americans who receive financial help in buying insurance through the new online healthcare marketplaces. Democrats did not object to the provision; they said it largely repeated language already in the law (Mascaro, Memoli and Bennett, 10/16).The Washington Post: Obama Signs Bill To Raise Debt Limit, Reopen GovernmentAn agreement struck by Senate Majority Leader Harry M. Reid (D-Nev.) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) ended a stalemate created last month, when hard-line conservatives pushed GOP leaders to use the threat of shutdown to block a landmark expansion of federally funded health coverage. … Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray (D-Wash.) was to have breakfast Thursday morning with her House counterpart, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), to start a new round of talks aimed at averting another crisis. Obama repeated his vow to work with Republicans to rein in a national debt that remains at historically high levels (Montgomery and Helderman, 10/17).The Associated Press/Washington Post: Government Reopens After Congress Ends 16-Day Shutdown And Dodges Defaults On DebtsObama and his Democratic allies on Capitol Hill were the decisive winners in the fight, which was sparked by tea party Republicans like Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, who prevailed upon skeptical GOP leaders to use a normally routine short-term funding bill to “defund” the 2010 health care law known as Obamacare (10/17).The Wall Street Journal: Congress Passes Debt, Budget DealThe deal was opposed by the conservative political groups Heritage Action and Club for Growth, which both urged Republicans to vote against it because it did nothing significant to roll back the health law. But conservative Republicans let the deal move forward without delay in the Senate, while vowing to fight on in future battles. Sen. Ted Cruz (R., Texas), a leader in the conservative’s “defund Obamacare” strategy, blamed the defeat on party leaders. “Once again, it appears the Washington establishment is refusing to listen to the American people,” he said outside the Senate chamber, as Senate leaders announced the deal inside. A key question is whether wounds from the fight will change the political and policy dynamics when Congress tries to meet the January deadline for funding the government for the remainder of fiscal 2014 and the February deadline for again raising the debt limit (Hook and Peterson, 10/17).Politico: ACA Backers OK With Income Verification In Debt DealRepublicans are getting a single Obamacare crumb in the spending deal — an income verification measure that Democratic proponents of the law are willing to swallow. It’s the only tweak to the Affordable Care Act in the agreement forged by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to end the shutdown and lift the debt ceiling. The requirement stipulates that the HHS secretary certify there’s a way to check that Americans collecting income-based health insurance subsidies are eligible, essentially that they are earning what they claim (Cunningham, 10/17).Politico: Budget Negotiations BeginA key element of the deal reached to reopen the government and hike the debt ceiling is that both chambers must go to a budget conference. The conference committee will be tasked with agreeing to budget numbers and crafting a bipartisan deal to address long-term deficit reduction. … The committee will include ten Senate Republicans and twelve Senate Democrats, Murray said. The conference committee has until Dec. 13 to reach an agreement (Gibson, 10/16). Health Law Mostly Untouched By Agreement To End Shutdown, Increase Debt Limit This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription. Insurers selling Obamacare plans have set drug prices according to a tiered system that in some cases requires consumers to pay as much as 50 percent of the cost, The Associated Press writes. Meanwhile, The Philadelphia Inquirer reports that although a glitch that had disseminated incorrect subsidy information on healthcare.gov has been fixed, wrong information might still be given out by independent sites. Also, the administration signaled it would allow people to enroll in health plans after March 31 if they had tried but been unable to sign up because of glitches. The Associated Press: Obamacare Plans Bring Hefty Fees For Certain Drugs Breast cancer survivor Ginny Mason was thrilled to get health coverage under the Affordable Care Act despite her pre-existing condition. But when she realized her arthritis medication fell under a particularly costly tier of her plan, she was forced to switch to another brand. Under the plan, her Celebrex would have cost $648 a month until she met her $1,500 prescription deductible, followed by an $85 monthly co-pay. Mason is one of the many Americans with serious illnesses — including cancer, multiple sclerosis and rheumatoid arthritis — who are indeed finding relatively low monthly premiums under President Barack Obama’s law. But some have been shocked at how much their prescriptions are costing as insurers are sorting drug prices into a complex tier system and in some cases charging co-insurance rates as high as 50 percent. That can leave patients on the hook for thousands (Kennedy, 3/22). Reuters: U.S. To Allow Some People To Enroll In Obamacare After Deadline The Obama administration will soon issue new Obamacare guidelines allowing people to enroll in health coverage after a March 31 deadline, but only under certain circumstances, according to sources close to the administration. The sources said the new federal guidelines for consumers in the 36 states served by the federal health insurance marketplace and its website, HealthCare.gov, would allow people to enroll after March 31 if they had tried earlier and were prevented by system problems including technical glitches (Morgan, 3/21).Reuters: Insurers See Double-Digit Obamacare Price Rises In Many States Next Year U.S. consumers eligible for Obamacare health plans could see double-digit price hikes next year in states that fail to draw large numbers of enrollees for 2014, including some states that have been hostile to the healthcare law, according to insurance industry officials and analysts. The early estimates come as insurance companies set out to design plans they intend to sell in 2015 through the state-based health insurance marketplaces that are a centerpiece of the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature domestic policy achievement that is widely referred to as Obamacare (Morgan and Humer, 3/21).The Wall Street Journal: Expect Health-Insurance Premiums To Rise You could continue to see prices increasing this year for your health-care coverage. Several recent studies point to provisions in the Affordable Care Act—such as the requirement that insurers cover sick individuals as well as preventive care, like mammograms—that could lead to higher prices, at least in the short term. The underlying cost of care itself, meanwhile, continues to rise at a steady clip (Johnson, 3/22). The Washington Post: For Some Who Are Married But Filing Taxes Separately, Another Healthcare.Gov Hurdle In May 2012, when the Internal Revenue Service proposed its rules for Americans to get government subsidies for health insurance, officials acknowledged that a legal quirk needed to be fixed: The Affordable Care Act was written in a way that inadvertently denied such help to some people who live apart from spouses who abuse them, are in prison or are on the cusp of a divorce. The problem is that the law’s authors, in creating tax credits to help pay for health plans bought through the new insurance marketplaces, had overlooked the fact that some married people file their tax returns separately (Goldstein, 3/23).NPR: Insurance Chief Suggests Adding A New, Lower Level Of Health Plan Rather than letting people keep their old health plans that don’t comply with the new requirements of the Affordable Care Act, the head of the group that represents the nation’s health insurance companies is floating an alternative: weakening the requirements. “If you take 10 categories of coverage,” said Karen Ignagni, president and CEO of America’s Health Insurance Plans, in an interview taped for C-SPAN’s Newsmakers, “no matter how meritorious each and every one of those benefits may be … you have a giant step up” from what many people had before, and wanted to pay for (Rovner, 3/21). Kaiser Health News: Capsules: AHIP President Calls For New Level Of Insurance Under Health Law A new tier of coverage should be added to the health law’s online marketplaces, or exchanges, that would be less comprehensive than what plans are now required to offer, the head of the health insurance industry’s trade group said Sunday (Carey, 3/24).The Philadelphia Inquirer: Latest Obamcare Glitch Fixed, But Other Sites May Repeat The ErrorA glitch in the Obamacare window-shopping tool that incorrectly responded “not eligible” to queries about financial help from households just above the poverty line was fixed hours after the administration learned of the issue, officials said Friday. For 35 days, Healthcare.gov used the wrong year’s federal poverty-level guidelines for informal assessments of eligibility. … similar mistakes uncovered at independent sites raise the possibility that wrong information is still being disseminated less than 10 days before open enrollment ends for the year. (Sapatkin, 3/23).Fox News: Another Glitch: Newly Discovered HealthCare.Gov Error Giving Bad Info On Premium AidA newly discovered glitch in the main ObamaCare website reportedly is giving thousands of people the wrong information about whether they qualify for premium subsidies. The Philadelphia Inquirer discovered the glitch while entering hypothetical incomes into the calculator on HealthCare.gov. The newspaper found that the calculator is using the wrong year’s poverty guidelines — a simple mistake that, for months, has resulted in would-be enrollees getting inaccurate guidance. Because of the glitch, some people may be initially told they qualify for subsidies when they don’t. Others may be told they don’t qualify when they do (3/21). Certain Drugs In Obamacare Plans Carry Hefty Price Tags
The Obama administration released a report Wednesday projecting that hospitals will save $5.7 billion in uncompensated care costs this year as previously uninsured patients gain coverage through the health law. Most of the savings are in states that expanded their Medicaid programs.The New York Times: Affordable Care Act Reduces Costs For Hospitals, Report SaysThe Obama administration increased the pressure on states to expand Medicaid on Wednesday, citing new evidence that hospitals reap financial benefits and gain more paying customers when states broaden eligibility. In states that have expanded Medicaid, the White House said, hospitals are seeing substantial reductions in “uncompensated care” as more patients have Medicaid coverage and fewer are uninsured (Pear, 9/24).Kaiser Health News: Administration Says Hospitals Will Save $5.7B From Unpaid Bills Due To Health LawHospitals are projected to save $5.7 billion this year as previously uninsured patients gain coverage through the 2010 health care law, the Department of Health and Human Services said Wednesday. States that have expanded their Medicaid programs will see about 74 percent of those savings, an HHS report said. While 27 states and Washington, D.C. have expanded the federal-state insurance program for the poor to date, the survey was done when 25 states and D.C. had done so (Carey, 9/24). The Washington Post’s Wonkblog: HHS: Obamacare Coverage Is Reducing Hospitals’ Unpaid BillMillions more people with health insurance means fewer uninsured patients are coming through hospitals’ doors. That means fewer costs from bad debt or charity care from people unable to pay their bills, which amounted to about $50 billion for the nation’s hospitals in 2012 (Millman, 9/24).The Associated Press: Report: Admission Of Uninsured At Hospitals DipsThe announcement of the findings is part of the Obama administration’s continuing effort to persuade states that have declined to expand their Medicaid coverage to reconsider their objections. So far, 27 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to provide Medicaid to people with income higher than poverty levels, as permitted under the health care law. What’s more, the report comes seven weeks before the start of a new round of open enrollment, a critical test for the health care law. Obama administration officials said both the Medicaid expansion and the law’s requirement that individuals obtain insurance had contributed significantly to the decrease in the number of uninsured Americans (9/24).USA Today: HHS: Health Law Will Lead To Big Drop In Free Hospital CareBurwell’s announcement was paired with one by Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, about the reductions in health care spending increases that the administration says are attributable to the health law. The three years after the ACA took effect in 2010 had the slowest growth in real per capita national health spending on record, Furman said. Furman called the ACA “one of most important developments in the economy in recent years,” and one that has major implications for job growth. The slower growth in premiums for employer coverage will make it easier for companies to hire workers and pay good salaries, he said (Jayne O’Donnell, 9/24).Reuters: Obamacare To Save U.S. Hospitals $5.7B In Uncompensated CareThe report is the latest in a series of administration releases intended to show that President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform law is working. Wednesday’s announcement came weeks before the November mid-term elections, in which Republicans hope voter dislike for the Affordable Care Act will aid their efforts to win control of the U.S. Senate. Reducing the cost of “uncompensated care” among hospitals, particularly those with large populations of poor people, is a major goal of Obamacare, which offers federally subsidized private insurance to consumers in addition to expanding Medicaid (Morgan and Rampton, 9/24). Politico Pro: Report: Hospitals To Save $5.7B In Uncompensated CareObamacare will save hospitals $5.7 billion this year in uncompensated care costs, with three-quarters of that going to facilities in states that expanded Medicaid eligibility, according to an HHS report released Wednesday. … In states that did not expand Medicaid, savings will total $1.5 billion (Wheaton, 9/24).CNN: Some Hospital Costs Fall In Affordable Care Act’s First Year, Report FindsDays ahead of the one-year anniversary of the rollout of HealthCare.gov, the Affordable Care Act’s health care exchange website that was originally plagued with numerous technical glitches, the Department of Health and Human Services has released a report highlighting the impact of the law on hospital costs (Hartfield, 9/24).Dallas Morning News: White House Says Texas Forgoes Huge Sum By Not Expanding MedicaidTexas taxpayers and hospitals pay a steep price for the state’s refusal to expand Medicaid, top White House officials said Wednesday, citing fresh cost projections for treating the uninsured. Hospitals nationwide will see uncompensated care drop $5.7 billion this year, according to a Department of Health and Human Services report. Three-fourths of that savings will go to the states that expanded Medicaid (Gilman, 9/24). HHS: Health Law Brings Down Hospitals’ Uncompensated Care Costs This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
The Wall Street Journal: Shkreli Seeks To Shield Congressional Testimony The House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform has subpoenaed [Martin] Shkreli to appear at a hearing on exorbitant drug pricing next Tuesday. Shkreli became the public face of pharmaceutical-industry greed last fall, after hiking the price of a 60-year-old drug for a rare infection by 5,000 percent. Questions emerged Thursday about whether Shkreli would even attend the hearing, in spite of the congressional subpoena. Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Maryland, said Shkreli has apparently not made any legal arrangements to travel to Washington, based on conversations with his attorney. (1/21) Reuters: Drug Exec Shkreli, Lawmakers Clash Ahead Of Congressional Hearing The Associated Press: Reviled Pharma Exec Would Decline Congressional Questioning The Fiscal Times: If Congress Has Its Way, You Could Pay Canadian Prices For Your Drugs If He Shows, Shkreli Plans To Invoke Fifth Amendment The Oversight and Government Reform Committee subpoenaed former Turing CEO Martin Shkreli, who became the face of the high drug costs controversy, to testify on the spiked prices. With many lawmakers and presidential candidates declaring open season on drug companies that have substantially jacked up the price of critically needed drugs, the pharmaceutical industry is bracing for a bruising battle this year over calls for price restraints and other reforms. (Pianin, 1/21) Former pharmaceutical executive Martin Shkreli was on a collision course with Congress on Thursday as lawmakers warned he could be prosecuted for contempt if he does not appear next week for a hearing about drug prices. Shkreli, 32, has said he would invoke his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination. On Twitter, he told followers it was “disgusting and insulting” for lawmakers to try to subvert that right. … The dispute appeared likely to end in one of two ways: with Shkreli appearing in Washington on Tuesday to invoke that right, or with Shkreli staying home in New York, prompting the committee to vote to hold him in contempt and setting off a potential criminal prosecution. (Raymond and Ingram, 1/21) Martin Shkreli, the former drug-company executive criticized for dramatically raising a pill’s price, has asked a congressional committee seeking his testimony to guarantee it can’t be used in a federal prosecution, according to materials reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. … Lawyers for Mr. Shkreli have told the committee he won’t answer questions, citing his Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination, according to emails between Mr. Shkreli’s lawyers and the committee. The lawyers indicated that position would change if the committee would grant Mr. Shkreli the immunity so prosecutors couldn’t use his testimony against him, according to the emails. (Rockoff, 1/21) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
The single biggest threat to the survival of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is not the Republican-led legislative effort to repeal it. Nor is it inadequate enrollment. It is inaction by the administration’s own agency that is tasked with implementing Obamacare: the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). (Peter Beilenson, 2/10) The Columbia (S.C.) State: DHEC Needs Funding To Protect Public Health And Safety The argument in support of CONs is straightforward. The restrictions on competition fostered by such laws provide a way for hospitals to collect more money from some patients, in order to subsidize care for those who can’t afford it — a kind of backdoor socialism in which the private sector takes on the role of redistributor of income. But research by Chris Coopman and Thomas Stratmann at the Fairfax, Va.-based Mercatus Center at George Mason University, a free-market think tank, debunks the theory that CONs provide a boost to charity care. (John Bicknell, 2/11) Los Angeles Times: Should All Women Not On Birth Control Give Up Drinking? The dangers of lead exposure have been recognized for millennia. In the first century a.d., Dioscorides observed in his De Materia Medica that “lead makes the mind give way.” The first industrial hygiene act passed in the colonies, in 1723, prohibited the use of lead in the apparatus used to distill rum, because “the strong liquors and spirits that are distilld through leaden heads or pipes are judged on good grounds to be unwholsom and hurtful.” More recently, large amounts of lead were used to boost the octane rating of gasoline and improve the performance of paint. One would be challenged to design a better strategy for maximizing population exposure to a poison than to have it emitted by a ubiquitous mobile source and to line the surfaces of dwellings with it. (David C. Bellinger, 2/10) The New England Journal Of Medicine: On The Road (to A Cure?) — Stem-Cell Tourism And Lessons For Gene Editing The Des Moines Register: Leave Health Care To Experts The Wall Street Journal’s Washington Wire: Behind The Challenges To Universal Health Coverage Both Democratic presidential candidates are calling for universal health coverage, though they disagree sharply on how to get there. Here’s the bottom line: There is no single program or policy likely to achieve full coverage of the complex collection of subgroups who make up the remaining uninsured in the U.S. except for a single-payer strategy. But Sen. Bernie Sanders has acknowledged that single-payer health care is not politically feasible in the foreseeable future and has said that it is unlikely without, among other things, campaign finance reform first. (Drew Altman, 2/11) JAMA: Is “Firing” The Patient An Unintended Consequence Of Value-Based Payment? In 2011, football quarterback Peyton Manning went on the road to seek out stem-cell “treatment” for his neck. He wasn’t alone: many high-profile athletes and desperate (but less famous) patients left the United States seeking interventions available in countries with less rigorous regulation. They didn’t necessarily know what kind of cells they were getting, whether there was any evidence the intervention worked, or whether anyone understood the risks they were taking. So why did they do it? (R. Alta Charo, 2/10) National Review: Conservatives Can — And Should — Play A Role In The Cancer Moonshot A new proposal for expanding Medicaid is smart and Kansas-focused. It also addresses objections to expansion raised by Gov. Sam Brownback and some lawmakers. But GOP leaders in Topeka are still resistant, blocking an attempt Wednesday by Rep. Jim Ward, D-Wichita, to force a House vote on expansion. Senate Bill 371 and House Bill 2633 are based on an expansion plan developed by the Kansas Hospital Association. It was modeled after Indiana’s law and contains several requirements and reforms championed by free-market conservatives. (Phillip Brownlee, 2/10) The Baltimore Sun: ‘Risk Adjustment’ Threatens Obamacare The Wichita Eagle: Medicaid Expansion Helps Kansans, Hospitals And Economy Rivers that aren’t being monitored often enough for us to know whether the fish are safe to eat. Air-monitoring equipment that’s so broken-down that officials don’t know whether it’s safe to issue permits for new industry. Underground storage tanks and abandoned gold mines that aren’t being cleaned up to stop gasoline and acid and metals from leaching into the groundwater. And the giant hazardous waste dump on the shore of Lake Marion that we can’t even monitor properly, much less shore up to prevent water contamination of unimaginable proportions. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that the state Department of Health and Environmental Control — the agency charged with making sure we have clean water to drink and clean air to breathe and that the people who cook our meals and provide our medical care don’t infect us — says it doesn’t have the money to do its job. (2/10) The New England Journal Of Medicine: Lead Contamination In Flint — An Abject Failure To Protect Public Health How frequent is the practice of “firing” patients? Research is sparse, but one recent survey found that one-fifth of pediatricians said they had dismissed families for refusing childhood immunizations. If you Google “firing patients,” you’ll find discussions about whether physicians and group practices can fire patients, under what circumstances, and how physicians can do so ethically and legally. (Diana Mason, 2/10) Iowa lawmakers should stop trying to micromanage the practice of medicine in this state. Our elected officials are not researchers or scientists or even physicians. Yet they too often want to require that health providers order specific tests or provide specific notifications to patients. The latest offender is Senate File 2057. This bill requires all babies born in Iowa to be tested for cytomegalovirus. Known as CMV, the congenital virus can result in hearing loss and developmental disabilities. Sen. Janet Petersen, D-Des Moines, who introduced the bill, has a constituent who gave birth to an infant with CMV. (2/10) Viewpoints: Conservatives And The Cancer Moonshot; The Challenges Of Getting To Universal Health Care A selection of opinions on health care from around the country. Washington Examiner: Certificate Of Need Laws Hurt Both Competition And Patients Last Monday, the White House announced the formation of its Cancer Moonshot Task Force, a follow-up to President Obama’s State of the Union exhortation to “make America the country that cures cancer once and for all.” At the time, the president’s announcement elicited snickers from many on the right concerned about expansive government programs that promise more than they can deliver. But conservatives who worry about the government’s role in combating cancer are missing a key part of the picture: When it comes to making big gains against cancer, it’s not about central planners generating solutions from whole cloth; it’s about making sure nothing gets in the way of the cutting-edge treatments that are already within our reach. (Paul Howard, 2/8) The American medical establishment instructs pregnant women to not drink alcohol, and those who ignore this advice — like those who do not breast-feed their children — are subject to social shaming. Is the circle of shame about to get a lot bigger? Citing the dangers of fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, the Centers for Disease Control last week released an advisory that directs women of childbearing age to abstain from alcohol entirely unless they are on birth control. This recommendation, which unduly burdens women between the ages of about 15 and 44, is deeply troubling on both scientific and ethical grounds. (Rebecca Kukla, 2/10) This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
In an unusual step, the Food and Drug Administration withdrew a draft guidance that was issued last fall to help companies develop biosimilar medicines that resemble brand-name biologics. By doing so, the agency acquiesced to concerns expressed in recent months by companies over some of the recommendations that were made for concocting a biosimilar, which is a nearly identical variant of a biologic medicine and is expected to provide the same result in patients. (Silverman, 6/21) California Healthline: California Poised To Expand Access To Hepatitis C Drugs Stat: Frustrated At The Pace Of Biosimilar Development, FDA Yanks A Draft Guidance FDA Withdraws Guidance On Biosimilars, Conceding A Different Approach Is Needed To Get Them To Market “Biosimilars foster competition and can lower the cost of biologic treatments for patients,” said FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb. “Yet the market for these products is not advancing as quickly as I hoped.” In other pharmaceutical news — Rising insulin costs are drawing outrage from diabetes advocates, leading to calls for greater transparency and federal oversight of the market for a drug that helps more than 7 million Americans. Insulin was first discovered nearly 100 years ago, and as newer forms of the drug have been introduced, the price has climbed. (Weixel, 6/21) Patrick Garcia wasn’t completely surprised when he learned recently he had hepatitis C. Until a few years ago, he had experimented with numerous drugs, injecting heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine — you name it. “I haven’t lived exactly a perfect life,” said Garcia, 43, whose mouth, hand and back were injured in a motorcycle wreck last year.Medi-Cal, California’s public health program for the poor, paid for his post-accident care and the bloodwork that led to his hepatitis C diagnosis. But it wouldn’t pay for the pricey new medications that cure the disease. (Bartolone, 6/21) The Hill: Skyrocketing Insulin Prices Provoke New Outrage This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.
Senate votes to keep oil tanker ban alive, potentially ending defiant streak in upper chamber as C-69 heads to House Both votes put to rest a long saga in which senators have shown uncommon resistance to government legislation, raising concerns about an overzealous Senate Email The Apollo 11 moon landing was so boring it must be real If Americans were going to fake the moon landing, you’d better believe there would be some high drama and maybe even an explosion or two.… Errol McGihon/Postmedia/File Join the conversation → Featured Stories Share this storySenate votes to keep oil tanker ban alive, potentially ending defiant streak in upper chamber as C-69 heads to House Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn More Reddit 107 Comments OTTAWA — Senators voted on Thursday to save Ottawa’s controversial oil tanker ban, potentially ending a prolonged pushback in the Senate against legislation that has been met with intense criticism by Western provinces and the energy industry.In a 53-38 vote, senators rejected the adoption of a report that would have effectively killed Bill C-48, the moratorium on oil tankers in northern B.C. waters. Also on Thursday, senators adopted a heavily-amended version of another contentious natural resources bill, C-69, which is now headed back to the House of Commons for review. The legislation would overhaul Canada’s environmental assessment process for major projects like oil pipelines and power lines.Both votes put to rest a long saga in which senators have shown uncommon resistance to government legislation, raising concerns about an overzealous Senate that has acted not just as a chamber of sober second thought, according to critics, but as an outright opposition to the House of Commons.Bill C-48 and Bill C-69 have drawn the ire of provincial governments in the oil-rich provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan, as well as industry lobby groups who argue they could delay the construction of major energy projects. Industry has been warning Ottawa about C-69 in particular, amid a failure by the oil and gas industry in recent years to build major pipeline projects like the Trans Mountain pipeline expansion, now owned by the federal government.Industry groups and some senators blasted the decision to salvage the tanker moratorium on Thursday.“The vast majority of Trudeau-appointed Senators have decided it is more important to support a bad Liberal bill than to listen to concerns from provincial governments from across the country,” Conservative senate caucus leader Larry Smith said in a statement. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce said it was “deeply disappointed” in the vote and urged senators to find a common ground on the bill.Both bills have received intense scrutiny in the Senate in recent months. The Senate energy committee adopted 188 changes to Bill C-69 on Thursday, the most proposed by the upper house on government legislation in decades.On Bill C-48, meanwhile, the transport committee took the rare move of recommending that the government scrap the legislation altogether, after Independent Sen. Paula Simons voted alongside five Conservative senators to sway a decision in favour of nixing the tanker ban.Senator Paula Simons. Recommended For YouLiberal environmental contradictions could pave way for Conservative winIn the news today, July 19Daily horoscope for Friday, July 19, 2019Braid: Trudeau paints conservative premiers as a threat to CanadaCharges laid in Manitoba sex assault; police warn crime video still circulating Opponents of Bill C-69 rally outside a public hearing of the Senate Committee on Energy, the Environment and Natural Resources in Calgary on April 9, 2019.Jeff McIntosh/CP Facebook advertisement Observers say Conservative and some Independent senators are likely to propose new amendments to C-48 following the Thursday vote, but that those amendments are unlikely to be accepted before the moratorium becomes law.The votes come as a number of Independent senators have been meeting with officials in the office of Environment Minister Catherine McKenna, part of what some observers say are last-minute negotiations over which proposed changes may ultimately be accepted by the Trudeau government.Sen. Yuen Pau Woo, head representative for the Independent Senators Group and member of the energy committee studying Bill C-69, said he has had “technical briefings” with Environment officials about the legislation but denied discussing specific amendments.“I do not know what they will or will not accept, but we have crafted our amendments in such a way that we tried to make consistent with the objectives of the bill,” Woo said in an interview Tuesday.A government source said it is common for federal officials to meet with senators throughout the study of a bill. The person said Environment officials have spoken with a long list of senators in meetings facilitated by non-affiliated Sen. Grant Mitchell, the sponsor of Bill C-69, largely for technical briefings and sometimes to discuss the likelihood of some amendments being accepted.Two leading oil and gas lobby groups, the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers (CAPP) and the Canadian Energy Pipeline Association (CEPA), proposed about 90 amendments to the bill, which were later put forward by Conservative senators in the final report of the bill.Sen. Woo criticized the nearly word-for-word adoption of the industry-inspired amendments, saying the committee should avoid acting as “stenographers” for corporate interests. Environment Canada also proposed amendments that were tabled through Sen. Mitchell.The industry amendments would amount to a deep restructuring of the bill. They would, among other things, limit the discretionary powers of the environment minister in approving or rejecting major projects, restrict the ability of special interest groups opposed to natural resource development to testify at public hearings, and effectively reverse a bid to sideline the national energy regulator in the decision-making process.In a written statement, McKenna said her office is “carefully considering” the proposed amendments to Bill C-69.“I’m happy that Bill C69 is now through the Senate, despite many delays caused by the Conservatives who wanted to kill the Bill, weaken protections, and limit public discussions,” she said. Meanwhile, the Senate committee’s final report on the C-48 oil tanker moratorium, written by Conservative chair David Tkachuk, said the bill would be “destructive” to Canadian federalism.The highly contentious bill has been criticized for unfairly targeting would-be pipeline projects that would ship oil out of ports along the northern B.C. coast. Environmental advocates and some coastal First Nations support the bill, while a number of other B.C. Indigenous communities have strongly opposed it, saying it restricts their right to develop natural resources on their traditional lands.Bill C-69 has been broadly supported by a number of industry associations, including the Mining Association of Canada, who also forwarded proposed amendments. Environmentalists have also supported the bill, but warn it doesn’t go far enough to protect sensitive ecological regions and account for wider greenhouse gas emissions.Industry groups and environmental advocates are largely in agreement that the Canadian Environmental Assessment Act, passed in 2012 by the Harper government, was in need of an update, saying the bill restricted some aspects of Canada’s environmental assessment regime in a bid to get projects built.• Email: email@example.com | Twitter: jesse_snyder June 6, 20199:15 PM EDTLast UpdatedJune 7, 201910:33 AM EDT Filed underCanadian Politics ← Previous Next → Twitter Sponsored By: Jesse Snyder Comment
Vietnam is cracking down on Chinese goods relabelled illegally by exporters trying to beat U.S. tariffs The Telegraph Comment Carney also warned that a new Cold War in trade would have a deep effect on the world economy. At the height of the historical Cold War, U.S.-USSR trade was worth US$2 billion, he said, compared to U.S.-Chinese trade now, which “clocks US$2 billion a day”.“The latest actions raise the possibility that trade tensions could be far more pervasive, persistent and damaging than previously expected. The rationales for action are broadening. Initially motivated by concerns over bilateral trade imbalances, trade measures are now being taken in response to issues ranging from immigration to intellectual property protection to control of the technologies underpinning the fourth industrial revolution,” he said.“The longer current tensions persist, the greater the risk that protectionism becomes the norm. Once raised, tariffs are usually slow to be lowered. Consider that half a century ago the U.S. imposed tariffs on light trucks due to a dispute over chicken exports to Europe. While the chickens were soon forgotten, the truck tariffs remain in place.”It is too soon to say whether current trade tensions could “shipwreck the global economy or prove to be a tempest in a teacup”.How the situation plays out will have significant ramifications for prosperity and price stability in the UK, Carney warned, suggesting a dovish near-term response might be needed from central banks, in a worst-case scenario. There’s now another way a Trump threat could deal a major blow to Canadian businesses Why Canada won’t necessarily follow any U.S. rate cuts Fed’s Powell reiterates case for interest rate cuts amid increased economic risks The negative tone pushed sterling close to a six-month low against the dollar and the euro.The potential for a deepening of international trade conflict was underlined Tuesday, when the White House threatened the European Union with tariffs worth US$4 billion on a range of politically sensitive goods from olives to Scotch whisky amid a long-running spat over aircraft subsidies.A temporary hiatus in the tit-for-tat trade war between the U.S. and China is also unlikely to last long, analysts have warned.As fears about the global economy mount, oil had its worst reaction to an OPEC meeting in more than four years, with prices sliding just after the cartel agreed to prolong production curb.Futures closed down 4.8 per cent in New York, the steepest decline since May 31 and the biggest drop after an OPEC gathering since November 2014. Carney’s warning added to worries following weak manufacturing reports from the U.S., China and Europe. The anxieties blotted out optimism despite Tuesday’s agreement by major oil exporters to extend production cuts for nine months. Divisions remained over Saudi Arabia’s push to target even deeper reductions, with Russia expressing doubts at the end of a summit in Vienna.“There are concerns that demand might slow to where it overpowers supply,” Bart Melek, head of commodity strategy at Toronto’s TD Securities, said in an interview. The “gloomy” data, especially from China, “is very much part and parcel of what we’re seeing.”Trade tensions could be far more pervasive, persistent and damaging than previously expected Share this storyBank of England’s Mark Carney warns international trade tensions could ‘shipwreck’ global economy Tumblr Pinterest Google+ LinkedIn Facebook More Email Reddit Twitter Donald Trump’s trade war has already cost investors up to $7 trillion Escalating U.S.-China trade spat to hit Canadian business confidence, wallop global economy 0 Comments Bank of England’s Mark Carney warns international trade tensions could ‘shipwreck’ global economy Carney said that the rise of protectionism could trigger a new Cold War with high economic costs, in a speech laden with disturbing seafaring metaphors Anna Isaac LONDON — Mark Carney, the Governor of the Bank of England, believes that international trade tensions have conjured a storm that could “shipwreck” the world economy.Carney said that the rise of protectionism could trigger a new Cold War with high economic costs, in a speech laden with disturbing seafaring metaphors.The central bank chief said that negative market developments represented a “sea change” caused by increased fears about how a trade war might damage businesses.“Certainly the portents are worrying,” he said. “The storm that the modern Prospero has conjured is having an impact.”The longer current tensions persist, the greater the risk that protectionism becomes the norm Related Stories In another worrying sign, backwardation for Brent, a pattern in which the front-month contract is valued more than future months because of strong demand, was halved between Monday and Tuesday for near-term prices.West Texas Intermediate crude for August delivery slipped US$2.84 to settle at US$56.25 a barrel on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The slide accelerated as the contract crashed through several key technical trading levels, with WTI crossing below its 50-, 100- and 200-day moving averages.Brent for September settlement declined US$2.66 to US$62.40 a barrel on the ICE Futures Europe Exchange.The drop in crude prices on Tuesday was an “anomaly,” OPEC Secretary-General Mohammad Barkindo told reporters in Vienna.Saudi Arabia said it would keep its output below 10 million barrels a day, even lower than required under the so-called OPEC+ deal. Saudi Energy Minister Khalid Al-Falih said he was “enthusiastic“ about the outlook for oil demand.Yet Russia, the other de facto leader of the group, questioned a Saudi proposal to use the average of 2010 to 2014 global oil inventories to set future production targets. That move, a change to current policy, would require deeper cuts but achieve the higher prices the Saudis need to balance their budget.The OPEC pact leaves the door open for U.S. shale producers to grab more market share, as the group will have to cut deeper to achieve inventory targets, according to Goldman Sachs Group Inc. The decision creates a clearer downside risk to the bank’s forecast for Brent to average US$60 a barrel next year, even though it could result in some shorter-term price spikes.— With files from Bloomberg News July 2, 20191:35 PM EDTLast UpdatedJuly 2, 20199:07 PM EDT Filed under News Economy Join the conversation →
Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on September 17, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News Source: Electric Vehicle News Top 10 Best-Selling Electric Cars In The U.S. For 2018: August Edition Tesla Production At 6,700 In Last 7 Days? Turning Towards 8,000/Week In the case the Model 3, all the Long Range versions are rated for 310 miles. The base Model 3 Standard is not yet available, but Tesla will likely produce it starting in eight months.In the case of particular versions, the more you pay, the quicker you accelerate and the more range you receive.Tesla Model S, X & 3 comparison for U.S.***Pricing below factors in a tax credit, but since Tesla has hit the 200,000-unit dwindle-down mark, that credit will decrease as time progresses on.With the Model 3, Tesla opens range and performance to consumers at roughly half the price of the S/X.Tesla Model S, X & 3 comparison for U.S. (September, 2018) Three models. One automaker. Controls half of the U.S. market.So far this year Tesla sold in the U.S. some 84,000 cars, which is around 44% of total plug-in electric car sales. Those sales divide into three models (S, X and 3), from which the 3 is the biggest with over 55,000 sales by the end of August.It means that those who are considering driving plug-in car, especially an all-electric one, probably have Tesla on their mind. So, let’s compare three basic parameters – the price after destination charge and federal tax credit, EPA range and 0-60 acceleration times.Tesla news One Lucky EV Family Now Owns 3 Tesla Model 3s
Source: Electric Vehicles Magazine Source: Bloomberg The British firm Dyson, famous for its innovative vacuum cleaners and hand dryers, has chosen Singapore as the manufacturing site for its upcoming EV. Dyson, which is investing some $2.6 billion in its effort to expand into automobiles, says it will complete the factory by 2020, and hopes to bring its first model to market by 2021.Singapore might seem an unlikely spot to build cars – it currently has no auto plants, and is one of the most expensive places in the world to buy an automobile. However, the city-state does boast the world’s second-largest container port, and is a manufacturing hub for other high-tech products, including Rolls Royce aircraft engines. Singapore also has a free trade agreement with China, by far the world’s largest market for EVs.Dyson already has a manufacturing hub in Singapore that focuses on digital motors and employs about 1,100 people. James Dyson told Bloomberg that his company’s “center of gravity” has tilted toward Asia, which generated almost three quarters of revenue growth last year.“The decision of where to make our car is complex, based on supply chains [and] access to markets,” Dyson CEO Jim Rowan said in a note to staff. He cited “the availability of the expertise” as a plus.Dyson plans to build the new plant itself rather than subcontract the work.Dyson has yet to reveal any details of its planned EVs. Construction is still ongoing at the company’s facility at Hullavington, England. The plant, on the site of a former airfield, now has 400 employees, and features extensive test tracks.
Toyota comes clean about why it’s not producing all-electric vehicles.Toyota has been at the pinnacle of “electrified” offerings for a number of years. Of course, this comes in the way of traditional (no-plug) hybrids that InsideEVs doesn’t cover. More recently, the automaker brought forth its Prius Prime plug-in hybrid, which isn’t the company’s first Prius plug-in, but surely its most successful on our shores. Toyota has focused on hydrogen fuel cell cars for a time (and still is to a degree), and set all-electric cars aside. Now, the automaker says it isn’t yet offering a BEV, simply because dealers can’t sell them.Related Toyota Content: Toyota Establishes Dedicated Zero-Emissions Vehicle Division Prius Prime Design To Trickle Down Into Standard Prius Mr. Mobile Drives Hydrogen Toyota Mirai To See If It’s Really The Future Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on December 7, 2018Categories Electric Vehicle News We can either congratulate Toyota for sizing the market and waiting patiently or reprimand the automaker for holding out and essentially slowing EV adoption. Those that follow the segment know that while major rival Honda has released the Clarity BEV in the U.S., it’s only available for lease in a small market, and production levels are extremely low. Hyundai and Kia continue to come forth with all-new BEV entrants, but again, they are made in small batches for the U.S. market and only available in limited areas.So, this plan by Toyota is not new. In fact, it’s that course that seems to be followed by nearly every foreign automaker when it comes to offering all-electric cars in the United States. General manager of Toyota Motor North America Jack Hollis shared at the recent LA Auto Show (via :If our dealers, and we just met with our national dealer council two weeks ago, if our dealers felt like there was a significant demand (for EVs) we would have already had fully electric and electric vehicles already on the road today.Having that technology, which you’ll remember if you go back the electric RAV4 was one of the first electric offerings in the marketplace in the US, period. So the technology there and what we can offer is available, but like any good demand and supply economy, if the demand is low, do you really want to supply?For those unaware, Toyota previously offered a RAV4 EV, which was discontinued in the U.S. due to a lack of sales. Still, Hollis confirms that Toyota is not stepping away from new powertrain technology. He assures:But I will say at the exact same time, there is daily investment going into fuel cell technology, BEV technology, plug-in technology and hybrid technology. And all four are part of our electrification strategy, so I do not believe that our dealers, and they would agree, that we should not go down just with an electric offering but we should with an electrification offering where we have a wider range of products, a wide range of energy sources and uses available. And that’s really what were pursuing, a wider range. And then as we go over time well be able to see where the marketplace moves. But at this point, there is no reason to race that to market.We shall see if Toyota and other automakers see the potential in EV sales in the U.S. and not only come forth with new offerings, but also make them widely available. They may be surprised at the results if these cars are priced right and readily available. However, the only way to know is to take the plunge. Fortunately, most of these OEMs have the financial situation to do so without concern. Sadly, it all comes down to the mighty dollar, so we’ll see …Source: Autoguide Source: Electric Vehicle News
Source: Charge Forward As we reported yesterday, GM is announcing that Cadillac will act as its ‘lead electric vehicle brand’.The news was confirmed by the company today and here are my thoughts on the situation: more…The post GM is making the right move by focusing Cadillac brand on electric, but it should go even further appeared first on Electrek.
General Motors Joins The E-Bike Party With Ariv Yet Another E-Bike: This Time It’s Kalk & Cake: Video It’s cute but is it a long-term win?If you’ve ever vacationed in Africa or the Middle East (or, dear reader, you live there and read RideApart, thanks!), you’re familiar with that particular mostly-commercial vehicle seldom seen in the USA, the Tuk tuk.Technically an “auto-rickshaw” it is the three-wheeled love child of a motorcycle and a minibus. For some time they were powered by small two-stroke engines. They are being phased out in most places, in favor of cleaner-running tuk tuks that are fueled by on compressed natural gas. Those particular vehicles are often referred to as “CNGs.” Lately though, the electric vehicle revolution is touching the tuk tuks.More EV News Author Liberty Access TechnologiesPosted on March 9, 2019Categories Electric Vehicle News Meet the eTuk. Based out of Denver, CO, eTuk is selling these electric-only machines starting around $20,000 US with a hard-sell brochure (don’t download the e-book, trust me, unless you already know these things are legal in your state). The company had the eTuks tested and certified with the US DOT and they each have a 17-character VIN for registration. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re allowed in your city, so if you’re inspired you’d better check first.They seem to be marketed as a more-interesting taxi, or an unusual delivery “van,” or a modern food-delivery “roach coach” (you know, that truck that shows up full of breakfast? Do they only call them Roach Coaches in Massachusetts?).By their very design they are open-air but could be enclosed (sort of like a reverse convertible–it has a roof but no, or temporary, walls). In my estimation they would not be great in the outdoor snowy weather we get in the north of the country, but perhaps the headquarters in Denver has figured out a way to make them year-round friendly. They would probably do great in southern tourist-laden cities and amusement parks.While there’s a ton of hype about the vehicles in their marketing brochures and website, there’s very little hard information about cost of upkeep, range, highway legality or safety. The owners’ manual does detail the 72 volt motor, the twelve (12!) wet-cell lead-acid batteries and the need to add water to them regularly. These are not maintenance-free AGM batteries, but on the bright side nor are they Lithium Ion, so they probably won’t catch fire (or hold nearly as much of a charge). The charge time is approximately 14 hours.Also, since the machine uses traditional motorcycle-style forks, those will need maintenance along with the hydraulic brakes.Still, they’re groovy and unusual, and would probably catch on as tour “buses” in warmer climates. Those of us who ride motorcycles will have an advantage, since their switchgear is what you’d expect on any run-of-the-mill set of handlebars.Source: eTuk USA on Facebook, eTuk USA Source: Electric Vehicle News VW I.D. BUZZ CARGO, I.D. R & Cargo e-Bike Show Up In LA
“It has the functionality of an SUV, but it will ride like a sports car, so this thing will be really tight on corners,” said Elon Musk. “This will be the safest mid-sized SUV by far.”Musk also implied that Model Y will have all the hardware required for full self-driving functionality: “The cool thing is, it’s ‘feature complete’…It will be able to do basically anything just with software upgrades.”Deliveries of the $47,000 Long Range version, with 300 miles of range, along with the $60,000 performance version, are expected to begin in fall 2020. The $39,000 Standard Range variant, with 230 miles of range, is promised for spring 2021.The Model Y online design studio is now open, and buyers can place an order with a $2,500 deposit. Source: Electric Vehicles Magazine Electric cars are now officially S3XY. Tesla revealed the final component of Elon Musk’s suggestive orthographic adventure at the usual sound-and-light show at the Hawthorne Design Studio.There were few surprises, other than the fact that Tesla will offer an optional 7-seat configuration. The Y’s form factor is both practical (it’s smaller than the X, but apparently offers more usable cargo capacity than the 3) and stylish (don’t call it a hatchback – according to Tesla, it’s a mid-size SUV – and whatever you do, do not mention that it looks just like a Prius).Tesla has said that Model Y shares about 75 percent of its components with Model 3, which should allow a cheaper and faster production ramp, and that the new vehicle will “most likely” be manufactured at Gigafactory 1 in Nevada.Model Y boasts a 0.23 drag coefficient and 66 cubic feet of cargo space. It will offer up to 300 miles of range, a 0-60 time as low as 3.5 seconds and a top speed of up to 150 mph. Sources: Tesla, Electrek, EVannex, InsideEVs, The Verge
Earlier this month, President Trump tweeted that GM would be selling its shuttered Lordstown, Ohio plant to electric truck maker Workhorse. But a new report paints a concerning picture of what’s happening at Workhorse, casting doubt on both the deal and the company itself. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1zk7Eb8r-s&list=PL_Qf0A10763mA7Byw9ncZqxjke6Gjz0MtThe post Electric truck maker and prospective GM plant buyer Workhorse ‘barely hanging on,’ report says appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forward
Now that Tesla has a more extensive lineup of vehicles, do you ever wonder what models and variants Elon Musk drives?The CEO has now revealed his preferred Tesla vehicles to drive these days. more…Subscribe to Electrek on YouTube for exclusive videos and subscribe to the podcast.https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V1zk7Eb8r-s&list=PL_Qf0A10763mA7Byw9ncZqxjke6Gjz0MtThe post Elon Musk reveals the Tesla vehicles he currently drives appeared first on Electrek. Source: Charge Forward
In passing the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, Congress anticipated that the “criminalization of foreign corporate bribery will to a significant extent act as a self-enforcing preventative mechanism.” Likewise since the FCPA’s earliest days, the DOJ has recognized that the “most efficient means of implementing the FCPA is voluntary compliance by the American business community.”In short, the FCPA was never intended to be just a mechanism to achieve “hard enforcement” (actual enforcement actions), but more a mechanism to achieve “soft enforcement” (compliance) in furtherance of the statutory objective of reducing bribery and corruption. Indeed, as stated by the Sixth Circuit in Lamb v. Phillip Morris Inc., 915 F.2d 1024 (1990) and repeated by several other courts, the FCPA’s statutory scheme “clearly evinces a preference for compliance in lieu of prosecution.”Yet, as the FCPA nears its 40th anniversary those in this space need to start asking the question of whether the FCPA – as currently written and currently enforced – has been effective?Measuring the effectiveness of “soft enforcement” is nearly impossible save for a few anecdotal examples here and there. The effectiveness of “hard enforcement” however can be measured in at least four ways.First, success can be measured by analyzing the settlement amounts that the DOJ and SEC recover. While prior posts have highlighted how this seems to be the measure of success by which the DOJ and SEC measures itself, knowledgeable observers know that this measure of success is, at least a part, a reflection of the imbalance of leverage that the enforcement agencies possess coupled with the risk aversion of business organizations.Second, success can be measured by analyzing the instances in which the U.S. government has been put to its burden of proof in FCPA enforcement actions. Here, we know the answer. Despite some victories when put to its burden of proof in the context of an adversarial proceeding, the DOJ has an overall losing record. Indeed, the DOJ’s ultimate record in FCPA history when put to its burden of proof by a business organization is 0-2. The SEC has never prevailed in an FCPA enforcement when put to its ultimate burden of proof.Third, success can be measured by analyzing the number of enforcement actions over time. If a law is effective in accomplishing its statutory purpose, one might expect less enforcement, not more enforcement, in the law’s fourth decade, compared to its third decade, compared to its second decade, compared to its first decade. Yet, although FCPA enforcement tends to wax and wane when looking at this issue through the arbitrary lens of a 365 day calendar year, the exact opposite is true when it comes to FCPA enforcement (even though there are several reasons for this namely the use of alternative resolution vehicles).Related to the third measure of success is a fourth measure of effectiveness and that is analyzing the number of business organizations currently the subject of FCPA scrutiny. Using this measure, it would appear that more companies are the subject of FCPA scrutiny than at any other point in time in the FCPA’s history.In short, we need to ask whether the FCPA is effective and current events make this question all the more important.In the past 60 days, the following companies from a wide variety of industries have resolved FCPA enforcement actions.SAPSciClone PharmaceuticalsPTCVimpelComQualcommOlympus Latin AmericanNordionNovartisAs previously highlighted in several recent posts, in the past 60 days the following companies from a wide variety of industries have become the subject of FCPA or related scrutiny and/or otherwise disclosed updates regarding its existing scrutiny.Novartis (just a few days resolving an FCPA enforcement action concerning conduct in China the company was again the subject of scrutiny for its alleged business practices in Turkey)SBM OffshoreTeliaSoneraBritish American TobaccoGeneral CableHSBC HoldingsMondelez Int’lKey EnergyMaxwell TechnologiesWal-MartMalvern BancorpGoldman SachsNikeBarclaysEmbraerNortekAnalogicFairmont SantrolPlatform Speciality ProductsAlereAegerion PharmaceutcialsTabcorpThe remainder of this post highlights additional examples from just the past week.UnaoilA series of articles published last week by Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post shined a light on Unaoil, a company based in Monaco and incorporated in the British Virgin Islands. The media outlets termed the stories “the biggest leak of confidential files in the history of the oil industry” and asserted that Unaoil, through the movement of money through U.S. bank accounts and other means bribed, various government officials in numerous countries on behalf of its various corporate clients.While a newspaper article does not an FCPA enforcement action make, the following companies, some of which have previously resolved FCPA enforcement actions, were discussed in the articles.HalliburtonKBREniNational Oilwell VarcoKeppelAker KvaenerGATEPetrofacTechnipTecnicas ReunidasFMC TechnologiesHoneywellLeighton OffshoreRolls-RoyceMI-SwacoCanuck Completion / TMK CompletionsMy own two cents is to take the Fairfax Media and Huffington Post articles (and other FCPA or related articles written by journalists) with a grain of salt and not draw any conclusions at this point. For instance, on several basic FCPA and FCPA enforcement factual issues, the articles were off-target.Moreover, the articles were a bit over-the-top and breathless, at least for my taste. Like many breathless and over-the-top articles in this space, the articles invoked Mohamed Bouazizi, a Tunisian fruit vendor whose act of self-immolation is often linked to his alleged frustration with bribery and corruption. Elsewhere, the articles implicitly linked the alleged conduct at issue with terrorists groups like al Qaeda, the Islamic State, the Taliban, ISIS, and other jihadists. Without explicit, direct links this represents irresponsible journalism in my opinion.Regardless of what you think of the recent articles, the above companies (several companies not for the first time) are under FCPA and related scrutiny.BPPerhaps not wanting to be upstaged by Fairfax Media and the Huffington Post, a few days later the Wall Street Journal published this article titled “BP’s Azerbaijan Push Comes at a Cost.” According to the article:“In 2013, BP’s board of directors learned that an employee of its main logistics contractor, a subsidiary of Switzerland’s Panalpina World Transport Holding Ltd., had allegedly approved roughly $16 million worth of invoices billed by a shell company for transportation services that it didn’t provide, according to internal communications viewed by The Wall Street Journal. In 2014, BP and its partners on Azerbaijan’s giant Shah Deniz natural-gas project awarded contracts worth $2.5 billion to a consortium of oil-services companies, including firms controlled by Azerbaijan’s government. Their work was plagued by bloated costs, according to documents seen by The Wall Street Journal and people familiar with the matter. The issues prompted at least one written complaint to BP’s ethics department. BP said it investigated the issues related to Panalpina but “did not establish any misconduct with regard to BP nor any impact on our business.”Panalpina of course resolved an FCPA enforcement action in 2010, an action that also implicated, directly or indirectly, several other oil and gas companies which also resolved FCPA enforcement actions.While lacking in the front-page effect, several other companies updated previous FCPA disclosures or disclosed FCPA scrutiny for the first time last week.Biomet / Zimmer Biomet HoldingsThe company recently disclosed:As previously reported, on March 26, 2012, Biomet, Inc. (“Biomet”) announced that it had settled an ongoing federal investigation into its international sales practices with the U.S. Department of Justice (“DOJ”) and the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (“SEC”). As part of the settlement, Biomet entered into: (i) a consent to final judgment (the “SEC Consent”) with the SEC and (ii) a deferred prosecution agreement (the “DPA”) with the DOJ. Pursuant to the SEC Consent, Biomet consented to the entry of a Final Judgment which, among other things, permanently enjoined Biomet from violating the provisions of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. As further disclosed, in October 2013, Biomet became aware of certain alleged improprieties regarding its operations in Brazil and Mexico, including alleged improprieties that predated the entry of the DPA. Additionally, pursuant to the terms of the DPA, in April 2014 and thereafter, Biomet disclosed these matters to and discussed these matters with the independent compliance monitor and the DOJ and the SEC. On July 2, 2014, the SEC issued a subpoena to Biomet requiring that Biomet produce certain documents relating to such matters. These matters remain under investigation by the DOJ and the SEC.On March 13, 2015, the DOJ informed Biomet that the DPA and the independent compliance monitor’s appointment had been extended for an additional year. On April 2, 2015, at the request of the staff of the SEC, Biomet consented to an amendment to the Final Judgment to extend the term of the compliance monitor’s appointment for one year from the date of entry of the Amended Final Judgment.[…]The DPA, as extended, is set to expire on March 26, 2016. However, the DOJ and the SEC continue to evaluate the alleged misconduct in Brazil and Mexico, as well as any issues relating to Biomet’s compliance program. The DOJ, the SEC and Biomet have agreed to continue to evaluate and discuss these matters during the second quarter of 2016 and, therefore, the matter is ongoing and will not conclude in its entirety on March 26, 2016. Pursuant to the DPA, the DOJ has sole discretion to determine whether conduct by Biomet constitutes a violation or breach of the DPA. The DOJ has informed Biomet that it retains its rights under the DPA to bring further action against Biomet relating to the conduct in Brazil and Mexico disclosed in 2014 or the violations set forth in the DPA. The DOJ could, among other things, revoke the DPA or prosecute Biomet and/or the involved employees and executives. Biomet continues to cooperate with the SEC and the DOJ, and expects that discussions with the SEC and the DOJ will continue. There is no assurance that Biomet will enter into a consensual resolution of this matter with the SEC or the DOJ, and the terms and conditions of any such potential resolution are uncertain.”Advanced Drainage SystemsThe Ohio-based company recently disclosed:In October 2015, members of the Company’s management became aware of transactions involving the Company’s consolidated Mexican joint venture, ADS Mexicana, that ADS Mexicana personnel initially brought to the attention of the Company for further review to confirm whether these transactions were appropriately characterized. The ADS Mexicana transactions in question included an aircraft leasing arrangement, a real estate leasing arrangement and several services arrangements that involved ADS Mexicana related parties. Once brought to the attention of the Company, management promptly undertook a review to determine whether such transactions were properly recorded and/or characterized and to ensure that such transactions and their financial impact were appropriately reflected in the Company’s consolidated financial statements.After receiving a preliminary report from management on the breadth and scope of the issues, the Audit Committee in November of 2015 authorized independent counsel and its forensic consulting firm to conduct an independent investigation. The investigation involved the interview of members of the Company’s finance staff as well as finance and non-finance staff of ADS Mexicana, in addition to a review of the financial and accounting records of the Company and ADS Mexicana related to the transactions in question. Upon concluding the investigation, it was determined by management, upon consultation with the Audit Committee’s advisors, that the various lease and services arrangements described above, as well as certain additional services arrangements with related parties identified during the course of the investigation, lacked commercial and economic substance or proper supporting documentation as to the services performed, and therefore were not appropriately reflected in the Company’s consolidated financial statements and that certain of those transactions should be re-characterized by ADS Mexicana as dividends as opposed to expenses. As a result of re-characterizing the related party transactions, the Company will cause ADS Mexicana to amend its tax returns filed in Mexico for the open tax periods affected as soon as practicable in order to reflect the appropriate tax treatment for the transactions as re-characterized.The scope of the investigation also included consideration of other ADS Mexicana matters that were identified during the course of the investigation to determine whether such matters involved any unlawful payments in violation of the FCPA. The Audit Committee’s advisors did not find such matters to have been mischaracterized, inappropriately recorded or otherwise contrary to applicable law, including the FCPA. It was, however, determined that such matters were a further indication of weaknesses in the ADS Mexicana control environment.Management also identified potential accounting errors related to ADS Mexicana’s revenue recognition cut-off practices which were reported by management to the Audit Committee and also investigated by the Audit Committee’s advisors. Specifically, the Company identified instances where ADS Mexicana would recognize revenue prior to the date of shipment or transfer of title/ownership, which is not in accordance with accounting principles generally accepted in the United States (“GAAP”). The investigation also found that the timing for when such errors occurred was irregular and in certain instances attributable to requests from ADS Mexicana customers that were not properly accounted for, resulting in timing differences between invoicing date and shipment date. It was determined that these errors with respect to revenue recognition occurred due to ineffective controls and not due to an intent to commit fraud.Management has concluded that the control deficiencies noted above related to the ADS Mexicana control environment, as well as the ADS Mexicana revenue recognition cut-off practices, each constituted a material weakness. Although such matters have resulted in a determination of material weakness, neither the Audit Committee’s advisors in the course of its investigation nor management have concluded whether the weaknesses in the ADS Mexicana control environment, the ADS Mexicana revenue recognition cut-off practices, or any other material weaknesses of the Company as described below, would result in an ultimate determination by the SEC or any other applicable regulatory agency that the Company has not complied with the books and records and internal control provisions of the FCPA.”Elbit ImagingThe Israel-based company with shares traded on Nasdaq recently disclosed:“The Company have become aware of certain issues with respect to certain agreements that were executed in the past in connection with the Casa Radio Project in Bucharest, Romania that may contain potential violation of the requirements of the U.S. Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), including the books and records provisions of the FCPA. As a result the abovementioned, the Company’s audit committee has decided to appoint a special committee to examine these matters, including any internal control and reporting issues. The Company intends to fully cooperate with the relevant governmental agencies in this matter.”Braskem / OdebrechtMedia reports suggest:“The U.S. Department of Justice is investigating possible corruption in contracts among Brazilian petrochemical company Braskem, engineering conglomerate Odebrecht and the country’s state-run oil company Petrobras …”.*****Perhaps if you are a government prosecutor or FCPA Inc. participant, the above facts and figures indicate that the FCPA is effective.Yet the FCPA was never intended to just be enforced or to make a niche industry rich. Rather, it was intended to reduce bribery (at least a certain type of bribery addressed in the statute).Thus, for the reasons discussed in this post, as the FCPA nears its 40th anniversary, those in this space need to start asking the question of whether the FCPA – as currently written and currently enforced – has been effective?
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