Browsing: HHS

Seen as offensive, "defective" label for the mentally ill lives on in the federal code

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Whatever the federal government’s pluses and minuses, it is usually pretty good at avoiding language that will offend a particular group’s sensibilities. So some Federal Register readers may find it jarring to find two agencies using the term, “mental defective,” in notices set for publication this week. The term, considered useless and derogatory by advocates for the mentally ill, surfaces in a Justice Department filing seeking to clarify definitions of people prohibited from “receiving, possessing, shipping or transporting firearms” under the 1968 Gun Control Act. “The Department recognizes that the term ‘mental defective’ is outdated, but it is included in the statute and…

Is the administration moving to include transgender care in federal health insurance coverage?

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The short answer? Maybe. Dive into the longer but far more satisfying answer below… While some company and local government health plans cover care for transgender policy-holders, the Federal government does not and specifically excludes transition-related care from coverage. Transition-related care may include hormone replacement therapy, mental health services, and sexual reassignment surgery (SRS).  The costs of this care can easily reach into the tens of thousands of dollars, putting it beyond the reach of many who need it. But some recent and almost unnoticeable steps by federal agencies could mean transgender care coverage federal employees and many others. Many…

Association of Government Accountants honors agency reporting

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Twenty agencies big and small were recently noted for top-notch financial and performance reporting by the Association of Government Accountants. The “Certificate of Excellence in Accountability Reporting” (CEAR)  singles out “high-quality Performance and Accountability Reports (PARs) and Annual Financial Reports (AFRs) that effectively illustrate and assess financial and program performance, accomplishments and challenges, cost and accountability,” the accountants association said in a news release. The association also spotlights the teams of dedicated federal professionals who (often unsung) put the reports together. “Given the fiscal status of the United States government and the public’s perceptions about government fiscal accountability and transparency,…

SILVER SCREEN FEDS: 'The Walking Dead,' 'Yogi Bear'

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This week on Silver Screen Feds, we examine two federal employees who couldn’t be any more different: Dr. Edwin Jenner, the doomed researcher at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the zombie apocalypse show “The Walking Dead,” and Ranger Smith, the hapless National Park Service ranger who can’t stop Yogi Bear from stealing them pic-a-nic baskets. BEST FEDS: Dr. Edwin Jenner, CDC, “The Walking Dead” (Stephen Losey) Edwin Jenner holds a unique place in the pantheon of TV and movie feds: The last civil servant on Earth. Towards the end of the first season of “The Walking Dead,”…

White House touting reduction in improper payments

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There’s some apparent good news coming from the White House this afternoon on the improper payment front, according to a news advisory. At 2:30 p.m., Office of Management and Budget Director Jack Lew and three other top administration figures are holding a conference call “to discuss the administration’s progress cutting wasteful improper payments by nearly $18 billion’’ the advisory says. FedLine had asked about this last week and was told the data was being finalized. Presumably these are figures for fiscal 2011 versus fiscal 2010. Not clear is whether the nearly $18 billion figure is a cut in absolute terms…

Medical malpractice records restored to public, with reporting rules

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The federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) has reopened public access to information on malpractice settlements and discipline taken against poor  performing doctors. But under its new data use agreement, publicly available information from the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) cannot be reposted or used in combination with other information to identify a doctor. HRSA took down its online public file of the NPDB Sept. 1, after a Kansas City Star reporter used the information to track down the identity of a doctor who had a long record of malpractice cases against him but was never disciplined by the state. Now, if HRSA learns that data…

Medical malpractice records removed from public view

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The ranking member of the Senate Judiciary Committee is pushing the federal Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) to reopen public access to information on malpractice settlements and discipline taken against poor  performing doctors. HRSA took down its online public file of the National Practitioner Data Bank (NPBD) Sept. 1, after a Kansas City Starreporter used the publicly available information to track down the identity of a doctor who had a long record of malpractice cases against him but was never disciplined by the state. “Shutting down public access to the data bank undermines the critical mission of identifying inefficiencies within our health care system – particularly…

HHS launches healthIT.gov

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Health and Human Services last week launched a new website aimed at educating providers and patients on the benefits and role of health information technology in delivering better care. HealthIT.gov “is designed to invite active participation and make complex subjects relatable,” said Peter Garrett, with HHS’ Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology, which created the website. “It lets personal stories fuel the national movement toward adoption of EHRs [electronic health records]. It puts the “I” in Health IT.” Patients can find information about their privacy rights, talking points about health care to discuss with their doctors and stories from other patients. Healthcare…

Disclosure rule for federal researchers gets diluted

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Institutions can wait for written requests to disclose federally-funded researchers’ financial ties to pharmaceutical companies and other corporate interests, according to a final rule issued by the Health and Human Services Department Thursday. This is a change from the proposed rule brought by the agency in May 2010, which would have required institutions to post information about conflicts of interest on a publically available website. The final rule requires research institutions to determine if a researcher’s financial ties or interest in an outside company could bias or present a conflict of interest with federally funded research. It would apply to HHS’s National Institutes of Health, which received…

Senator pushes transparency in federal health research

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Sen. Chuck Grassley asked the Office of Management and Budget this week for internal communications that could show who is trying to limit a rule that would require federally-funded health researchers to disclose their corporate ties. A recent article in Nature magazine said that OMB, which is reviewing the proposal, is gutting the rule of the requirement that researchers’ outside financial interests be posted on a publicly available website, instead allowing institutions to choose their own disclosure methods. That will likely to make it much harder for members of the public to find these details, Ned Feder, a senior staff scientist with the Project on Government Oversight, told Nature. …

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