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GAO Recommends CMS Action to Ensure Medicaid Abortion Coverage

GAO LogoThe U.S. General Accounting Office (GAO) recently released the CMS Action Needed to Ensure Compliance with Abortion Coverage Requirements report.  Federal law prohibits federal funding for abortions in most circumstances, but state Medicaid programs are required to cover abortions if the pregnancy is the result of rape or incest, or the life of the pregnant woman is physically endangered by the pregnancy.  [See Pub. L. No. 115-245, §§ 506-7, 132 Stat. 2981, 9/28/18.]  The GAO report documents “state variation in Medicaid abortion coverage and payment requirements,” including South Dakota’s Medicaid state plan not covering abortions in cases of rape or incest, and 14 states not covering Mifeprex, a drug used in non-surgical abortions.  The GAO report also identifies “seven key factors that could pose challenges to women accessing abortions…:  gestational limits, mandatory counseling, out-of-pocket costs, parental involvement requirements, provider availability, stigma and harassment, and waiting period requirements.”  As the federal agency that oversees Medicaid, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) monitors state compliance with federal requirements.  The GAO report recommends CMS action to ensure South Dakota’s compliance with federal law, as well as to determine state Medicaid program coverage of Mifeprex and accurate reporting of fee-for-service abortions.

Revised OPTN Liver Transplantation Policy

anatomical images of human digestive systemOn December 3, 2018, the U.S. D.H.H.S. Organ Procurement & Transplantation Network (OPTN) Board of Directors approved a revision to the liver allocation policy.  [Allocation of organs is addressed in 42 C.F.R. 121.8.]  The revised policy is raising concerns in rural areas, and its implementation has been postponed.  Livers have been allocated using a medical urgency formula through a local/regional/national sequence.  The revised policy “eliminates the use of DSA [donation service area] or [OPTN] region in liver allocation or in scoring liver candidate exceptions,” and “would allocate livers to candidates within 150, 250, or 500 nautical miles (nm) of donor hospitals before offering them nationally.”  Under the revised policy’s expansion of geographic availability, rural transplant centers will likely have access to fewer livers.

Rapid DNA Technology Used To ID California Wildfire Victims

image of DNA appearing to be on fireThe California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection (CAL FIRE) has reported that the Camp Fire in Butte County burned 153,336 acres, destroyed 13,972 residences and 4,821 other buildings, and killed at least 85 people.  [See the Camp Fire Incident Information page and Butte County Sheriff’s Office Camp Fire page.]  At least 200 people are still missing.  The Butte County Sheriff’s Office is working with ANDE’s Rapid DNA instruments to help identify victims and human remains.  Immediate relatives of missing persons are being asked to donate their DNA by submitting cheek swabs at a local police station.  [DNA samples must be accompanied by consent forms; the DNA samples and data will be destroyed after a family member is identified.]  A Rapid DNA instrument can generate a DNA ID in a few hours.  A DNA ID contains approximately one-millionth of the information in a genetic profile, but it can determine gender, and two or more DNA IDs can be compared to determine if people are close biological relatives.  The Rapid DNA Act of 2017 [see Pub. L. No. 115-50 (August 18, 2017)] required the Federal Bureau of Investigation to issue standards and procedures for using Rapid DNA instruments, as well as allowed DNA samples prepared by using Rapid DNA instruments to be included in the Combined DNA Index System (CODIS).

Cyberattackers Increasingly Target Healthcare Sector

Image of criminal inside computer screenBloomberg Law recently summarized several reports on increasing cyberattacks in the healthcare sector.  The Cylance 2017 Threat Report examined “anonymized threat data collected between January 1, 2016 and December 31, 2017, and found 58% of ransomware attacks impacted healthcare industries in 2017, a dramatic increase from the 34% in 2016.  In 2018, the SamSam ransomware has been used in numerous cyberattacks.  A 10/30/18 Symantec blog post reported 24% of the SamSam attacks affected the healthcare sector.  The College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME) Healthcare’s Most Wired: National Trends 2018 report found only 29% of healthcare organizations have a comprehensive security program.  At least 90% of healthcare organizations have a dedicated chief information security officer as well as report security deficiencies and progress to their boards, but only 76% provide at least annual security updates and only 34% had a board-level committee responsible for security program oversight.  Perhaps most significantly, less than 1/3 of healthcare organizations participated with formal analysis organizations such as the Department of Homeland Security Cyber Information Sharing and Collaboration Program (CISCP) and National Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center (NCCIC), and the Department of Health & Human Services Health Sector Cybersecurity Coordination Center (HC3; formerly known as the Cybersecurity & Communications Integration Center or HCCIC).

What is the Oldest Reported American Case?

According to A History of Digests, a recent article by Michael O. Eshleman (110 Law Libr. J. 235) (citing Robert Becker’s Ancient Decisions), the oldest reported case in American is Stone v. Boreman, 1 H. & McH. 1, a 1658 case from the Provincial Court of the Province of Maryland. This interesting fact was revealed when Eshleman explained how West used 1658 as a starting point for its 1896 re-digesting of all published American cases up to that point. The case deals with a land dispute over the disposal of public lands.

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