Do Non-Profit Hospitals Give as Much as They Get?

April 30, 2013

Many hospitals in your community no doubt enjoy tax exempt status because they are designated as non-profit.  But what does that really mean?  It’s not that they don’t make a profit, because they most likely do. The difference is these corporations are supposed to give back to their communities. Reporter Marni Jameson took a fascinating look at the issue in a front page story in the Orlando Sentinel.  Click here to learn more about what she discovered.

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What Made Your Doctor Prescribe that Drug?

April 29, 2013

Could an all expenses paid fishing trip or dinner at a five star restaurant influence your doctor when it comes to which prescription to give you? It’s a serious concern which is the focus of attention again because the US Attorney in Manhattan filed suit against drug maker Novartis for allegedly paying kickbacks to increase its prescription-drug sales.

Whistleblower Case

A whistleblower first brought the case to light and now the federal government is putting its power behind the allegations with the filing of this federal lawsuit.  The Switzerland based drug-maker is accused of violating the Anti-Kickback Statute to increase sales of two hypertension drugs, Lotrel and Valturna.  US Attorney in the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara said in a statement, “Novartis reaped dramatically increased profits on these drugs, and Medicare, Medicaid and other federal health-care programs were left holding the bag.”

Pharmacy Kickbacks?

This suit against Novartis comes just days after the same US attorney’s office filed suit against the company for another alleged violation of the False Claims Act.  That suit claims Novartis paid kickbacks, disguised as rebates and discounts, to at least 20 pharmacies for switching patients to its drug Myfortic, which is an immuno-suppressant.

It’s not the first time Novartis has faced such allegations.  Just three years ago, the company settled criminal and civil charges that it illegally promoted drugs for off-label uses. Once again, the company was accused of providing illegal kickbacks to doctors through special junkets and entertainment.  Novartis paid $422.5 million to settle that case and signed a corporate integrity agreement to promise that its promotions would comply with federal anti-kickback laws.

Returning Money to Taxpayers

When whistleblowers working for pharmaceutical companies come forward to report suspected violations of these anti-kickback laws, it lays the groundwork for the government to recover what often amounts to millions of dollars in improper Medicare and Medicaid payments. That means money returned to the taxpayers.

Novartis denies wrongdoing in both of these most recent cases and vows to defend itself in court.

Whistleblower Tells How He Outed Bernie Madoff

April 26, 2013

Bernie Madoff Arrested

When a whistleblower tries to stop fraud and corruption, often times the hardest part is getting someone to listen. That was certainly the case for one of the men who helped to uncover the biggest Ponzi scheme ever  in the United States.

Frank Casey was just doing his job at Rampart Investment Management when he noticed returns on Bernie Madoff’s investments were “too good to be true.”

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Best & Worst Jobs of 2013

April 26, 2013

The health care industry continues to lead the way when it comes to job growth and pay. Six out of the ten “best” jobs listed in this year’s CareerCast.com Jobs Rated Report are in the medical field. From Biomedical Engineer to Dental Hygienist to Physical Therapist, medically related fields rank well for “work environment, stress and hiring outlook.”  Working with computers also continues to score well.  Here are the top 10 jobs and their average yearly income:

  1. Actuary – $91,211
  2. Biomedical Engineer – $85,163
  3. Software Engineer – $89,147
  4. Audiologist – $68,135
  5. Financial Planner – $107,222
  6. Dental Hygienist – $69,107
  7. Occupational Therapist – $174,108
  8. Optometrist – $95,254
  9. Physical Therapist – $78,102
  10. Computer Systems Analyst – $79,145

Click here to see the complete list.

Worst Job

On the other side of the spectrum, the worst job on the list is “Newspaper Reporter,” with an average salary of $36,000 and a decreasing outlook for job growth.  Tough times in journalism.

Fight Back! File a Complaint When You Have a Problem

April 9, 2013

If you’ve been ripped off or are fed up with the run around and bad service, fight back!  The head of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau wants you to file a complaint when you have a consumer problem.  We often feel powerless as consumers to effect any change, but if you don’t take that extra few minutes to make people who CAN make change aware of a problem, nothing will ever improve.  CFPB Director Richard Cordray told TODAY.com he wants to hear from you.  Take him up on it!

The CFPB is already taking complaints about problems with credit cards, mortgages, banks and private student loans.  They’ve logged some 90,000 consumer complaintS, so far.  The CFPB will start taking complaints about debt collection later this year.  Cordray says the complaints make it possible to see patterns of problems so they can take action to do something about it.

Right now you can file complaints with the CFPB on these issues:

  • Bank account or service
  • Credit card
  • Credit reporting
  • Money transfer
  • Mortgage
  • Student loan
  • Vehicle or consumer loan

Click here to read more on Cordray’s interview with TODAY.com.

 

10 Most Expensive & Cheapest Places to Live in the U.S.

April 9, 2013

Manhattan, New York

If you’re looking to avoid a high cost of living, you’re best to avoid the bright lights of big cities. Manhattan, New York ranks number one for highest costs for the 7th year in a row.  No big surprise there, but apparently paradise also comes with a heftyprice tag.  Honolulu comes in 3rd on the list.

The Council for Community and Economic Research recently crunched more than 50,000 prices for common purchases in more than 300 urban areas.  They looked at everything from grocery items to transportation and housing.  Based on those comparisons, here are the 10 most expensive cities in the country.

10 Most Expensive Places to Live

  1. Manhattan, New York
  2. Brooklyn, New York
  3. Honolulu, Hawaii
  4. San Francisco, California
  5. San Jose, California
  6. Queens, New York
  7. Stamford, Connecticut
  8. Washington D.C.
  9. Orange County, California
  10. Boston, Massachusetts

 If you’re fed up with paying more for common purchases like milk and gasoline, consider that a half-gallon of milk in Manhattan costs $2.34 and a gallon of gas comes in at $3.97. Click here to compare prices between the cities and to read more on CBS Money Watch.

Cheapest Places to Live

When it comes to affordable living, a city in the Lone Star State takes the top spot for the 3rd straight year.  The cost of living in Harlingen, Texas actually fell by just over half a point from last year.  Here are the top 10 cheapest cities in the U.S. according to the Council for Community and Economic Research’s Cost of Living Index.

10 Cheapest Places to Live

  1. Harlingen, Texas
  2. McAllen, Texas
  3. Norman, Oklahoma
  4. Ardmore, Oklahoma
  5. Memphis, Tennessee
  6. Fayetteville, Arkansans
  7. Wichita Falls, Texas
  8. Muskogee, Oklahoma
  9. Pueblo, Colorado
  10. Ashland, Ohio

Top Tax Scams to Avoid

April 3, 2013

The Internal Revenue Service is out with it’s annual list of the Dirty Dozen Tax Scams.  Topping the list is “Identity Theft.” Coming in second is “phishing” and third is “Tax Preparer Fraud.”  Click here for more information and to watch an interview from CNN Money.

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