Thursday, Sept. 27

Medicaid fraud
States are settling a record number of Medicaid fraud cases involving pharmaceutical companies and are recovering taxpayer money from them at a pace that exceeds the states’ enforcement costs, Public Citizen said in a report. Already, the current year has seen a record amount of financial penalties assessed against the pharmaceutical industry, with $6.6 billion recovered through mid-July by state and federal governments. Much of the success was attributed to the whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act.

Characteristics of homelessness
A special report from the U.S. Census Bureau provides statistics for 209,000 persons who were living in homeless shelters when they were enumerated in the 2010 Census. Although they represent only 2.6% of nearly 8 million homeless persons, the detailed examination provides valuable information to government agencies that deal with homeless issues and programs.

When children outgrow immigration status
Under immigration law, children are granted “derivative visas” when their parents become lawful permanent residents. However, children lose their status if they reach their 21st birthday while their parents’ application is pending, and they must restart the process as adult applicants in their own right. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that “aged out” children should not have to go back to the starting line. Instead, they can use the original date of their parents’ application and they will thus get credit for time already spent in line.

The target of a federal grand jury investigation was ordered by the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to provide records and documents pertaining to foreign bank accounts which were used to evade U.S. taxes. The ruling reversed a district judge who concluded the grand jury’s demand violated the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-discrimination. The appeals court ruled the bank records were subject to the “Required Records Doctrine” which authorizes the government to require certain records be kept and later produced without implicating the Fifth Amendment.

Employment and unemployment
From March 2011 to March 2012, employment increased in 293 of the 328 largest U.S. counties, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reported. Gregg, Tex., posted the largest increase with a gain of 6.0% over the year, compared with national job growth of 1.8%. Most of the county’s job growth was attributed to construction. Meanwhile, the Employment and Training Administration reported that the number of unemployment insurance claims decreased by 26,000 from the previous week’s revised figure of 385,000.

Mortgage performance
The percentage of mortgages that were current and performing at the end of the 2nd quarter was 88.7%, compared with 88.9% the previous quarter and 88.1% a year earlier, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency reported. The percentage of delinquent mortgages (30 to 59 days past due) was 2.8%, and the percentage of seriously delinquent mortgages (60 days or more) fell to 4.4%, down 9.2% from the previous year. Meanwhile, the Federal Housing Finance Agency reported that the national average mortgage loan rate for previously occupied homes, which is used as an index in some adjustable-rate mortgages, was 3.56% in August.

Child labor and forced labor
The Dept. of Labor’s Bureau of International Labor Affairs released three reports on global child labor and forced labor. Findings on the Worst Forms of Child Labor is a report mandated by the 2000 Trade and Development Act that analyzes the worst forms of child labor in 144 countries and territories. The List of Goods Produced by Child or Forced Labor describes 134 goods from 74 countries that may be produced in violation of international standards. The List of Products Produced by Forced or Indentured Child Labor includes 35 products from 26 countries.

Labor loss in New Jersey
The National Labor Relations Board confirmed that workers at a Bed, Bath & Beyond warehouse in Carteret, N.J., voted against joining the United Food & Commercial Workers labor union. The vote was 506 to 266. Results from the election that was held in late June were delayed pending the outcome of objections that were filed and later withdrawn by the labor union.

Preventing foreclosure
Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac completed more than 129,000 foreclosure prevention actions in the second quarter, bring the total foreclosure prevention actions to 2.4 million since 2008. These actions have helped 2 million borrowers stay in their homes, the Federal Housing Finance Agency said in its quarterly Foreclosure Prevention Report. A new feature added to the report is state-by-state listings on mortgage delinquencies.

Child poverty
The 2011 American Community Survey shows an increase in the rate of children living in poverty in the U.S. between 2005 and 2011, the Annie E. Casey Foundation said. Among the 50 largest cities, 44 posted increases in child poverty rates—led by Detroit, Cleveland, Miami, Milwaukee and Memphis, Tenn. Nationwide, the percentage of children living in poverty—or below 100% of the federal poverty level—rose from 19% to 23%, or an increase of about 3 million children. The 2011 federal poverty level was $23,000 for a family of four.



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