More than 2,500 government officials ranging from the Commerce Department to the Treasury Department reported owning stock in companies whose share prices correspond to decisions made by their respective agencies. With obvious conflicts of interest arising, what has happened, and what are some major takeaways from this investigative report?
In an action to keep company executives in check, the Justice Department (DOJ), created a policy where executives and compliance chiefs sign and personally attest to the effectiveness of their compliance programs. The individuals would therefore be held personally liable for their roles in the company’s wrongdoing. The DOJ and Google had a pending dispute, which was due to Google’s non-compliance with assisting authorities in an investigation. The DOJ and Google reached an agreement, with a stipulation attached, resolving the dispute over Google’s loss of data responsive to a 2016 search warrant. In the stipulation, Google has said that it has spent over 90 million dollars on additional systems and resources to improve its compliance programs, including an agreement to allow an Independent Compliance Professional to serve as a third party to monitor that Google is fulfilling its compliance legal obligations. This policy, as already seen in the settlement with Google, is forcing compliance to become a top-tier concern for big companies or face serious consequences.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) manages an oversight program for nursing homes known as the Special Focus Facilities (SFF) program. Nursing homes that are placed in the program have almost double the deficiencies as other nursing homes, more serious issues in terms of injury and persistent problems that are never addressed. On October 21, 2022, CMS issued a press release regarding changes to its SFF program. The new changes will increase accountability for these facilities and encourage them to make quicker improvements. This action comes following the Biden-Harris Administration’s promise to increase safety and quality of care in poor-performing nursing homes.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) have guarded controlled substances zealously since the inception of the Controlled Substances Act (CSA), passed in the 1970s. However, the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic challenged nearly all of society’s conventional protocols, and the federal government responded to concerns that patients wouldn’t receive care by loosening its regulations for healthcare services. In 2020, the DEA permitted health providers to prescribe schedule II-controlled substances to patients via telehealth appointments instead of in-person visits. Now, two years later, the FDA has confirmed an Adderall shortage, which is a schedule II controlled substance that is in high demand and used to treat attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The Justice Department’s DEA division has initiated probes against various online mental health companies and worries that the drug is overprescribed and abused by young adults.
Recently the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) added Tornado Cash to its Specially Designated National List. As part of enforcement efforts, the list contains individuals and companies that have been owned or transacted with targeted countries or organizations that may prove to be a threat to the United States. This action gives rise to questions regarding “secondary” sanctions/designated risk, and the effect this policy has on smart contracts and other protocols.
The Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) new marketing rule will take effect on November 4, 2022. Advertising and solicitation regulations have undergone a major overhaul after decades of continuity. Further, testimonials and endorsements are no longer prohibited, but their use will be conditioned on compliance with certain provisions. The new rule only applies to financial adviser’s communications that are advertisements, as defined in the new rule.
In June 2022, a nonprofit news site called The Markup released a report stating that hospitals using Meta Pixel may be releasing patient data to Meta Platforms, Inc. (previously Facebook, Inc.). Since this report was released, many of the hospitals identified in the report removed pixel technology from their websites. In addition, some hospitals have released public breach notices and reported potential data privacy breaches to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office of Civil Rights (OCR). Most recently, on October 20, 2022, Advocate Aurora Health, a large health system located in the Midwest, released a notice publicly announcing its potential pixel breach, which may affect as many as three million patients.
Cigna Corporation (Cigna)–a global juggernaut in the insurance arena–faces a health care fraud lawsuit brought by the government under the federal False Claims Act (the FCA). By allegedly exaggerating patients’ illnesses to boost its own risk scores, Cigna secured inflated payments from the Medicare Advantage reimbursement system.
In the last few years, especially after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a noticeable growth in US labor organizing. Workers all over the country, from both large corporations and small companies, have gone on strikes and began forming labor unions in an effort to get better wages, working conditions, and benefits. Most recently, employees at large rail unions rejected a tentative deal to avert a walkout in September 2022 after it failed to adequately address their concerns. This is the latest, but certainly not the only, instance of workers demonstrating their increased bargaining power. We have also seen increased unionization movements by corporate employees at corporations like Amazon, Google, and Starbucks. However, as more corporate employees attempt to unionize, corporations have begun to push back, and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has stepped in to put a stop to blatant anti-unionization efforts.
Emily Zhang Associate Editor Loyola University Chicago School of Law, J.D. 2024 On October 13, the California Department of Public Health’s (CDPH) issued a change to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) Covid-19 emergency standard and issued a revised proposal for the non-emergency standard. The order updates the definition of “close contact” …