August 28, 2015


Higher Education News:

IRS Hack Poses Challenges to Some Pell Grant Students

After hackers used the online Get Transcript system to access about 100,000 tax accounts in late May, the [Internal Revenue Service] shut down the system, which allowed students and parents who had been selected for income verification to access a PDF copy of their "tax transcripts" -- their tax returns -- within moments. Now, students must use less time-efficient options to get the paperwork. That's left some financial-aid offices in a sticky situation, with some low-income students about to start their classes without having completed the aid process. (Chronicle of Higher Education - Aug. 27, 2015)

Department of Education Failed to Hold Loan-Management Company Accountable, Audit Finds

The Education Department failed to hold Xerox Education Solutions, a company it had contracted to track and service student loans, accountable for fixing persistent problems in its student-debt-management system, the agency's inspector general said in an audit report released on Thursday. According to the report, the department failed to ensure that Xerox met milestones for fixing the system and routinely offered extensions when the company missed its deadlines. At the same time, the agency did not "independently verify" that fixes had been made, the report said. (Chronicle of Higher Education - Aug. 27, 2015)

Research News:

NASA Invites Student Teams to Participate in Underwater Research

NASA is offering undergraduate students an opportunity to work in the deep end of spacewalk training through the Micro-g Neutral Buoyancy Experiment Design Teams (Micro-g NExT) activity. Micro-g NExT challenges students to design and build prototypes of spacewalking tools to be used by NASA astronauts for spacewalk training in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory at NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston. The deadline for proposal submission is Oct. 26. Student selections will be announced in December. (NASA - Aug. 26, 2015)

Health News:

340B 'Mega-Guidance' May Narrow Drug Discounts

Federal regulators released their long-awaited "mega-guidance" for the 340B Drug Pricing Program to clarify who is eligible to participate. It comes amid mounting criticism that the program has become overly broad with insufficient oversight. In the draft omnibus guidance, the Health Resources and Services Administration proposed several changes that could limit the types of care delivery that would trigger eligibility for a patient's drugs to be purchased under the program. (Modern Healthcare - Aug. 27, 2015)

CMS Says Positive ICD-10 Test Results Prove Agency is Ready for Oct. 1

As providers around the country brace for the Oct. 1 conversion to ICD-10 diagnostic and procedural codes, the [Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)] is reporting positive results from the final round of end-to-end testing of the Medicare claims processing system. Overall, the CMS reported an 87% acceptance rate on 29,286 claims received. (Modern Healthcare - Aug. 27, 2015)

AHA Supports Proposed Two-Midnight Changes; Opposes OPPS Conversion Factor Cut

Commenting today on the proposed Outpatient Prospective Payment System rule for FY 2016, [the American Hospital Association (AHA)] said it supports the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services' (CMS) proposed two-midnight policy changes. The AHA remains concerned, however, that CMS continues to apply its 0.2% reduction to the standardized amount that was implemented in FY 2014 and asks the agency to "repeal this unlawful reduction." (American Hospital Association - Aug. 27, 2015)

2016 Presidential Campaign:

'Free' vs. 'Affordable'

[Leading] Democratic presidential hopefuls Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders both now have proposals that would expand the role of the federal government in higher education. [T]here are key differences in how [they] are approaching college affordability and which types of students their plans would benefit. Clinton's plan, unveiled this month, calls for students to be able to attend a four-year public college or university without needing to take out loans to cover their tuition, so long as they work at least 10 hours a week. That stands in contrast to the Sanders plan, announced in May, which aims to create tuition-free public education. (Inside Higher Ed - Aug. 27, 2015)


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