Former HHS Cyber Security Director Convicted For Child Porn

Photo Credit: SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

Photo Credit: SAUL LOEB / AFP / Getty Images

Former acting director of cyber security for the Department of Health and Human Services Timothy DeFoggi was convicted for a myriad of gruesome child pornography charges Tuesday, the Department of Justice announced.

DeFoggi, who had top security clearance in his capacity as cyber security director, first joined the child pornography website PedoBook in March 2012. The Omaha World-Herald reported that he was arrested in April of last year, when law enforcement officials serving a search warrant found him downloading child pornography in his home.

In addition to viewing and soliciting child pornography, reportedly asking another member of the site whether he’d share pictures of his son, he suggested meeting a fellow pedophile in person to violently rape and murder children together.

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SHE’S OUT! Kathleen Sebelius Resigns as Secretary of HHS After ObamaCare Fiasco

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

Photo Credit: Wikipedia

After holding tight to her position as Health and Human Services Secretary for five years, Kathleen Sebelius resigned earlier this evening.

Sebelius became a household name in the fall for her role supervising the troubled rollout of the website and the general failure of President Obama’s signature healthcare law thus far.

The White House announced that tomorrow Obama will nominate Syliva Mathews Burwell, the director of the Office of Management and Budget to succeed Sebelius – a name that few know today, but will certainly come to recognize once she takes over.

According to reports, Sebelius was not forced out and chose to resign on her own recognizance. That said, her decision to leave coincides with a major push by the Obama administration to move past the early failures of the healthcare law, especially in light of the upcoming midterm elections wherein the law will feature prominently.

One of her last acts as HHS Secretary was to testify before the powerful Senate Finance Committee wherein she touted that 7.5 million people had enrolled in private insurance plans – half a million more than the original CBO projections.

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Government ‘Mining’ Social Media for Information on Health Behavior

Photo Credit: APThe National Library of Medicine (NLM) is “mining” Facebook and Twitter to improve its social media footprint and to assess how Tweets can be used as “change-agents” for health behaviors.

The NLM, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), will have software installed on government computers that will store data from social media as part of a $30,000 project announced last week.

“The National Library of Medicine is the world’s largest biomedical library and makes its stored information available online at no charge to consumers, health professionals, and biomedical scientists through a diverse suite of resources,” the agency said in a contract posted on Oct. 23. “Evaluating how its databases and other resources are utilized is an important component of continuing quality improvement and has long been an on-going program of NLM management through a potpourri of monitoring tools.”

“The world-wide explosion in the use of social media provides a unique opportunity for sampling sentiment and use patterns of NLM’s ‘customers’ and for comparing NLM to other sources of health-related information,” the agency said.

“By examining relevant tweets and other comments,” the contract said, “NLM will gain insights to extent of use, context for which information was sought, and effects of various health-related announcements and events on usage patterns.”

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HHS Brings in Verizon to Help

Photo Credit: Charles Dharapak, APThe international telecommunications company Verizon has been tasked with helping the government fix the federal health exchange, USA TODAY has learned.

An informed source in the telecommunications industry said Verizon’s Enterprise Solutions division has been asked by the Department of Health and Human Services to improve the performance of the site, which is a key component of the Affordable Care Act. The source spoke on condition of anonymity because the announcement had not been made official.

HHS office said Sunday the department would reach outside its government contractors to civilian companies that might be able to solve’s problems more quickly.

“Our team is bringing in some of the best and brightest from both inside and outside government to scrub in with the team and help improve,” an HHS blog post said on Sunday.

HHS did not respond to a request for confirmation about Verizon. The company also declined to comment.

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HHS Awards $556K to Train Med School Students on LGBT Mental Health Care

Photo Credit: AP

Photo Credit: AP

The Department of Health and Human Services has awarded $556,000 to Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine for an LGBT mental health internship program.

“Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals experience unique health disparities. As a group, LGBT adults experience more mood and anxiety disorders, an elevated risk for suicide, and substance use as compared with heterosexual adults. LGBT people are more frequently the targets of stigma, discrimination, and violence because of their sexual- and gender-minority status,” the grant abstract said.

“LGBT adults have higher rates of smoking, alcohol use, and substance use than heterosexual adults, which leads to long-lasting effects on both the individual and the community. Health professionals with greater exposure to LGBT patients and formal education in LGBT Psychology are better able to provide competent care,” it said.

The program is considered to be the first of its kind to focus on pre-doctoral LGBT psychology training, according to the grant abstract.

“Health professionals with greater exposure to LGBT patients and formal education in LGBT Psychology are better able to provide competent care that improves long-term mental health outcomes, reducing the risk of suicide and substance abuse,” HHS spokesperson Martin Kramer told

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HHS Looking for Hookah Smoking Machine

Photo Credit: CNS NewsThe National Institutes of Health (NIH) is interested in buying a “Shisa smoke machine.” The National Cancer Institute (NCI) will use it for studies that compare hookah and cigarette smoke.

“The purpose of this contract is Purchase of Shisha smoke machine and LX1 cigarette smoke machine,” the NIH, a division of the Department of Health and Human Services, said in a notice on Aug. 2.

“With the purchase of a smoke machine, NCI will do the comparison of Hookah and cigarette smoke condensates (CSC) on DNA Methylation, the Histone Code, and Global Gene Expression, comparison of Hookah and CSC on microRNA Expression, and comparison of Hookah and Cigarette Smoke on Stem Cell Gene Expression and Malignant Phenotype of Lung Cancer Cells,” the notice said.

The machine “replicates water-pipe smoking” and can trap nicotine, tar and carbon monoxide to be analyzed to “to better understand exposure to individuals,” the NIH said.

The agency said the machine will allow them to monitor individuals with a “larger puff range” than traditional smoke machines, with exhales up to 8 seconds.

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The Obamacare Train Wreck Continues: Now, the HHS Fraud Prevention Mandate Thrown Out (+videos)

Photo Credit: ThinkstockHHS gives up on Obamacare’s anti-fraud measures

By Philip Klein. One of the biggest administrative hurdles facing Obamacare was the ambitious plan to verify the income and insurance status of applicants for federal health coverage subsidies. In theory, on Oct. 1 of this year, a prospective beneficiary of Obamacare was supposed to be able to visit a website like Orbitz, enter basic information, and wait as multiple state and federal government databases communicated with one another to confirm in real time the applicant’s income level, and then display the level of subsidy to which the applicant was entitled, if any. It was a level of technological sophistication unlike anything ever attempted by the government. Now, with less than three months to go before Obamacare’s health insurance exchanges are set to begin enrolling applicants, Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services is throwing up its hands. Just as it did with the employer mandate, the administration has announced it would delay the implementation of these anti-fraud procedures due to the administrative difficulty.

In a regulation released Friday and flagged by Washington Post reporters Sarah Kliff and Sandhya Somashekhar, the administration will now rely on self-reported data. You read that correctly. A man who earns $50,000 per year and gets insurance through his employer could log on to the new government website and say he earns $20,000 and gets no insurance through his employer, and the government would not even attempt to confirm that the information is accurate before forking over generous taxpayer subsidies. It’s a recipe for rampant fraud, which is already widespread in Medicare and Medicaid.

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Photo Credit: Washington Examiner Obamacare was simply bad legislating

By Timothy P. Carney. President Obama’s signature legislative achievement was simply a bad bit of legislating. The administration’s decision to postpone the employer health insurance mandate is just the latest evidence that this law was poorly built.

An analogy: You may think Frank Lloyd Wright’s buildings are beautiful or ugly. But that’s a matter of taste, and it’s a different question from whether they are built soundly.

Analogously, you may share Obama’s views of government or reject it, but that’s a separate issue from whether this law was well made. With Obamacare, the architects used nails where screws were needed, and the angles aren’t quite right. This structure can’t bear its own weight.

The employer mandate was always a bad idea, and not only from the perspective of economic liberty. Liberal health-care wonks knew that the employer-based health-insurance system was a big part of our problem. If people get their insurance from work, then they lose their insurance when they switch jobs, exacerbating the problem that insurers typically don’t cover preexisting conditions. Also, when the HR director is doing the insurance shopping for all employees, insurers don’t face real competitive pressure.

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Photo Credit: TownhallWhat the Employer Mandate Delay Says About Obamacare’s Dysfunction

By Kevin Glass. The Obama Administration’s decision to delay implementation of one of Obamacare’s big regulations – the employer mandate – led to some progressives actually cheering. “Delaying Obamacare’s employer mandate is the right thing to do. Frankly, eliminating it — or at least utterly overhauling it — is probably the right thing to do,” wrote the Washington Post’s Ezra Klein. “In my view, the Administration should have gone further than delaying the employer mandate. They should have also proposed a bill to remove it entirely,” writes economist Austin Frakt. Talking Points Memo’s Brian Beutler writes, “I think you can make a decent case that the administration is actually doubling down on the most crucial and politically high-valence part of the law.”

These have come along with typical blame-Republicans condemnations. If the employer mandate is so bad, why wouldn’t Congressional Republicans just team up with Democrats to repeal it entirely, for example?

These critics are largely missing the point.

President Obama promised perfection when it came to the Affordable Care Act. More insurance coverage, better health outcomes, cheaper premiums, and you can keep your health care plan. That last one was particularly key when it came to selling the whole package. “If you like your health care plan, you can keep it” was repeated time and again in the President’s PR campaign for the health legislation. Read more from this story HERE.

Obamacare Broke: Sebelius Begs for Donations

Photo Credit: Washington PostHealth and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has gone, hat in hand, to health industry officials, asking them to make large financial donations to help with the effort to implement President Obama’s landmark health-care law, two people familiar with the outreach said.

Her unusual fundraising push comes after Congress repeatedly rejected the Obama administration’s requests for additional funds to set up the Affordable Care Act, leaving HHS to implement the president’s signature legislative accomplishment on what officials have described as a shoestring budget.

Over the past three months, Sebelius has made multiple phone calls to health industry executives, community organizations and church groups and asked that they contribute whatever they can to nonprofit groups that are working to enroll uninsured Americans and increase awareness of the law, according to an HHS official and an industry person familiar with the secretary’s activities. Both spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk openly about private discussions.

An HHS spokesperson said Sebelius was within the bounds of her authority in asking for help.

But Republicans charged that Sebelius’s outreach was improper because it pressured private companies and other groups to support the Affordable Care Act. The latest controversy has emerged as the law faces a string of challenges from GOP lawmakers in Washington and skepticism from many state officials across the country.

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Obama’s HHS Budgets $150 Million to Teach People How to Enroll in Obamacare (+video)

By Joel Gehrke. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced Thursday that HHS will spend $150 million to teach people how to enroll in the Obamacare exchanges, after a Democratic senator scolded her for running a poor “public information campaign.”

“Investing in health centers for outreach and enrollment assistance provides one more way the Obama administration is helping consumers understand their options and enroll in affordable coverage,” Sebelius said Thursday. HHS promised that the health centers would provide “unbiased information to consumers” about various provisions in the law.

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Colorado health insurance exchange seeks another $125 million to implement Obamacare

By Greg Campbell. Conservative members of a nonprofit organization set up to run Colorado’s Affordable Care Act-mandated state health insurance exchange are reeling from sticker shock over the cost of rolling out the program.

Federal grants have already paid $61 million to set up the one-stop health insurance shop, but the board is now being asked to approve another $125 million federal grant request.

Opponents, led by board member Dr. Mike Fallon, said the request is an example of how the spending on the program can easily get out of control.

“Just because federal funds are available doesn’t mean we should ask for them,” the Denver Post quotes Fallon as saying at a meeting earlier this week.

But other board members say the money is needed to advertise what the health exchange will do, as well as hire enough insurance “navigators” to help customers deal with what is expected to be a confusing array of health plan options. Read more from this story HERE.

HHS Made $64.2 Billion in ‘Improper Payments’ in Fiscal 2012

Photo Credit: Tax CreditsThe Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) made $64.2 billion in “improper payments” in fiscal 2012, according to the federal website PaymentAccuracy.

The the bulk of those improper payments were made by Medicare and Medicaid, the government health-care programs.
The government defines an “improper payment” as one that is not backed up by documentation, is used by the recipient in an improper manner, goes to the wrong recipient, or goes to the right recipient but is an overpayment or underpayment.

The government defines an “improper payment” as one that is not backed up by documentation, is used by the recipient in an improper manner, goes to the wrong recipient, or goes to the right recipient but is an overpayment or underpayment.

The HHS made the $64.2 billion in improper payments in fiscal 2012 through five programs that the Office of Management and Budget calls “high-error programs.”

Read more on this story HERE.