Facebook’s lead data protection regulator in the European Union is inching toward making its first decision on a complaint against Facebook itself. And it looks like it’s a doozy.
Privacy campaign not-for-profit noyb today published a draft decision by the Irish Data Protection Commission (DPC) on a complaint made under the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
The DPC’s draft decision proposes to fine Facebook $36 million — a financial penalty that would take the adtech giant just over two and a half hours to earn in revenue, based on its second quarter earnings (of $29 billion).
But even more worrying for privacy advocates is the apparent willingness of the DPC to allow Facebook to simply bypass the regulation by claiming users are giving it their data because they’re in a contract with it to get, er, targeted ads.
In a summary of its findings, the DPC writes: “There is no obligation on Facebook to seek to rely solely on consent for the purposes of legitimising personal data processing where it is offering a contract to a user which some users might assess as one that primarily concerns the processing of personal data. Nor has Facebook purported to rely on consent under the GDPR.”
“I find the Complainant’s case is not made out that the GDPR does not permit the reliance by Facebook on 6(1)(b) GDPR in the context of its offering of Terms of Service,” the DPC also writes, suggesting it’s totally bona fide for Facebook to claim a legal right to process people’s information for ad targeting because it’s now suggesting users actually signed up for a contract with it to deliver them ads.
Yet — simultaneously — the DPC’s draft decision does find that Facebook infringed GDPR transparency requirements — specifically: Articles 5(1)(a), 12(1) and 13(1)(c) — meaning that users were unlikely to have understood they were signing up for a Facebook ad contract when they clicked “I agree” on Facebook’s T&Cs.
So the tl;dr here is that Facebook’s public-facing marketing — which claims its service “helps you connect and share with the people in your life” — appears to be missing a few critical details about the advertising contract it’s actually asking you to enter into, or something.
Mind the enforcement gap
The GDPR came into application across the EU back in May 2018 — ostensibly to cement and strengthen long-standing privacy rules in the region which had historically suffered from a lack of enforcement, by adding new provisions such as supersized fines (of up to 4% of global turnover).
However EU privacy rules have also suffered from a lack of universally vigorous enforcement since the GDPR update. And those penalties that have been issued — including a handful against Big Tech — have been far lower than that theoretical maximum. Nor has enforcement led to an obvious retooling of privacy hostile business models — yet.
Adtech giants especially have managed to avoid a serious reckoning in Europe over their surveillance-based business models despite the existence of the GDPR — through the use of forum shopping and cynical delay tactics.
So while there is no shortage of GDPR complaints being filed against adtech, complaints over the lack of regulatory enforcement in this area are equally stacking up.
And complainants are now also resorting to legal action.
The issue is, under GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism, cross-border complaints and investigations, such as those targeted at major tech platforms, are led by a single agency — typically where the company in question has its legal base in the EU.
And in Facebook’s case (and many other tech giants’) that’s Ireland.
The Irish authority has long been accused of being a bottleneck to effective enforcement of the GDPR, with critics pointing to a glacial pace of enforcement, scores of complaints simply dropped without any discernible activity and — in instances where the complaints aren’t totally ignored — underwhelming decisions eventually popping out the other end.
One such series of adtech-related GDPR complaints were filed by noyb immediately the regulation came into application three years ago — targeting a number of adtech giants (including Facebook) over what noyb called “forced consent.” And these complaints of course ended up on the DPC’s desk.
noyb’s complaint against Facebook argues that the tech giant does not collect consent legally because it does not offer users a free choice to consent to their data being processed for advertising.
This is because under EU law consent must be freely given, specific (i.e., not bundled) and informed in order to be valid. So the substance of the complaint is not exactly as complicated as rocket science.
Yet a decision on noyb’s complaint has taken years to emerge from the DPC’s desk — and even now, in dilute draft form, it looks entirely underwhelming.
Per noyb, the Irish DPC has decided to accept what the campaign group dubs Facebook’s “trick” to bypass the GDPR — in which the company claims it switched away from relying on consent from users as a legal basis for processing people’s data for ad targeting to claiming users are actually in a contract with it to get ads injected into their eyeballs the very moment the GDPR came into force.
“It is painfully obvious that Facebook simply tries to bypass the clear rules of the GDPR by relabeling the agreement on data use as a ‘contract,’” said noyb founder and chair, Max Schrems, in a statement which goes on to warn that were such a basic wheeze allowed to stand it would undermine the whole regulation. Talk about a cunning plan
“If this would be accepted, any company could just write the processing of data into a contract and thereby legitimize any use of customer data without consent. This is absolutely against the intentions of the GDPR, that explicitly prohibits to hide consent agreements in terms and conditions.”
“It is neither innovative nor smart to claim that an agreement is something that it is not to bypass the law,” he adds. “Since Roman times, the Courts have not accepted such ‘relabeling’ of agreements. You can’t bypass drug laws by simply writing ‘white powder’ on a bill, when you clearly sell cocaine. Only the Irish DPC seems to fall for this trick.”
Ireland has only issued two GDPR decisions in complaints against Big Tech thus far: Last year in a case against a Twitter security breach ($550,000 fine); and earlier this year in an investigation into the transparency of (Facebook-owned) WhatsApp T&Cs ($267 million fine).
Under the GDPR, a decision on these type of cross-border GDPR complaints must go through a collective review process — where other DPAs get a chance to object. It’s a check and balance on one agency getting too cosy with business and failing to enforce the law.
And in both the aforementioned cases objections were raised on the DPC drafts that ended up increasing the penalties.
So it is highly likely that Ireland’s Facebook decision will face plenty of objections that end in a tougher penalty for Facebook.
noyb also points to guidelines put out by the European Data Protection Board (EDPB) — which it says make it clear that bypassing the GDPR isn’t legal and must be treated as consent. But it quotes the Irish DPC saying it is “simply not persuaded” by the view of its European Colleagues and suggests the EDPB will therefore have to step in yet again.
“Our hope lies with the other European authorities. If they do not take action, companies can simply move consent into terms and thereby bypass the GDPR for good,” says Schrems.
noyb has plenty more barbs for the DPC — accusing the Irish authority of holding “secret meetings” with Facebook on its “consent bypass” (not for the first time); and of withholding documents it requested — going on to denounce the regulator as acting like a “‘Big Tech’ adviser” (not, y’know, a law enforcer).
“We have cases before many authorities, but the DPC is not even remotely running a fair procedure,” adds Schrems. “Documents are withheld, hearings are denied and submitted arguments and facts are simply not reflected in the decision. The [Facebook] decision itself is lengthy, but most sections just end with a ‘view’ of the DPC, not an objective assessment of the law.”
We reached out to the DPC for comment on noyb’s assertions — but a spokesperson declined, citing an “ongoing process.”
One thing is beyond doubt at this point, over three years into Europe’s flagship data protection reboot: There will be even more delay in any GDPR enforcement against Facebook.
The GDPR’s one-stop-shop mechanism — of review plus the chance for other DPAs to file objections — already added multiple months to the two earlier DPC Big Tech decisions. So the DPC issuing another weak draft decision on a late-running investigation looks like it’s becoming a standard procedural lever to decelerate the pace of GDPR enforcement across the EU.
This will only increase pressure for EU lawmakers to agree alternative enforcement structures for the bloc’s growing suite of digital regulations.
In the meanwhile, as DPAs fight it out to try to hit Facebook with a penalty Mark Zuckerberg can’t just laugh off, Facebook gets to continue its lucrative data-mining business as usual — while EU citizens are left asking where are my rights?
How to Use Psychology to Hire the Best Employees
The recruitment process is about more than just screening resumes and asking the candidates a bunch of questions. As an employer, the last thing you want to do is ignore the intent behind a candidate’s interest in your company.
Have they applied because the position is remote? Is this job just a stepping stone for them, or will they stay loyal to the company? Their experience is extensive, sure, but why were all these jobs so short-lived?
Here’s how Whitham Group, the headhunters for renewable energy firms, combines psychology with strategic recruitment to find the answers to all the above questions.
The Importance of Body Language
If candidates don’t pay attention to their body language, they might give away their innermost thoughts and feelings. If they are, however, watching their body language, you should expect them to:
- Move their hands while speaking
- Maintain eye contact
- Assume the proper posture
- Sit with their legs uncrossed
- Try not to fidget
A good, firm handshake can tell you more than you think. According to Forbes, the perfect handshake should be initiated with the right hand, involve eye contact and a smile, and last no more than two seconds.
A friendly handshake gives the impression of trust, warmth, confidence, motivation, and ambition. If you haven’t noticed handshakes before, it’s not too late to start paying attention.
Weigh Past Performance with Personality
You don’t have to recruit people for a living to know that personality is the key to human relations, personal or professional. As a recruiter, you’d never hire a candidate who wasn’t personable. Here’s where this gets a bit tricky.
Suppose a potential employee boasts skills and achievements that span two pages of their resume but doesn’t come across as warm or forthcoming. In that case, you might hire them anyway because, personality notwithstanding, they have a proven track record of teamwork, cooperation, and other things that define productivity in an organization.
That said, energy industry recruiters have to draw the line somewhere. If their client prioritizes a healthy work environment over performance, they might not recommend an unlikeable candidate.
Tell Schmoozing from Self-Promotion
A candidate must do their homework before applying for a job. They can’t just show up for an interview because they fit the description, and it pays well. Recruiters appreciate a candidate who does their research about the company where they’re applying for a job.
Making good with an interviewer by mentioning the company’s vision and achievements and complementing them is good. However, mixing this with self-promotion reveals ulterior motives.
According to Harvard Business Review, self-promotion is associated with poor performance. A recruiter has to read between the lines and tell when a candidate is schmoozing and when they’re lowkey self-promoting to recommend the right people.
Search for Initiative
A willingness to take the initiative is the hallmark of a valuable team member. Solar and renewable energy recruiters test candidates by presenting them with a hypothetical situation and asking them to solve it. They want to observe their attitude towards the problem rather than the solution.
A candidate that acts like they control the situation is better than a candidate who is controlled by the solution. The best way to tell this difference is to look for someone who doesn’t assign blame or sees how the situation came about, someone who completely focuses on a solution.
For instance, a candidate who doesn’t recommend going to a higher authority to solve their problems but is transparent and honest with their supervisors about the situation is worth hiring.
No one is perfect. As humans, we have strengths and weaknesses, so you can’t expect your candidate to be perfect, but you can expect them to be honest about it. The trick is to look for someone who is upfront and unapologetic about their shortcomings but is willing to work on them.
Recruiters can’t test for everything, so they ask candidates about the rest during the interview. They don’t expect a specific answer to their question; they want them to be honest.
Don’t Seek Standard Answers
Candidates who give unique answers when asked standard questions generally perform well, academically and professionally. You might see their performance in the CV and have a better idea when you interview them.
If you like a candidate’s answer to cookie-cutter questions and find their responses memorable, you could expect them to bring something new to the table. Think about it: imagine how sharp they’ll be when responding to situations if they’re this quick with their responses.
Differentiate Between Confident and Cocky
The line between confident and cocky can be quite fine. You could consider confidence that unsettles cockiness.
On the other hand, you can expect a confident and self-assured candidate to:
- Be a good listener
- Possess self-awareness
- Reflect upon themselves
- Be clear about their strengths and weaknesses
- Be open about their successes and failures
Energy Executive Search Made Easy
Take the foot- and mind-work out of hiring the ideal candidate by joining hands with Whitham Group, one of the best renewable energy recruitment agencies in the Bay Area. Let their team of experienced solar and renewable energy recruiters apply a 24-step recruitment process to find you the loyal and high-performing employees you’ve always wanted.
Readers and Tweeters Diagnose Greed and Chronic Pain Within US Health Care System
U.S. Health Care Is Harmful to One’s Health
Thank you for publishing this research (“Hundreds of Hospitals Sue Patients or Threaten Their Credit, a KHN Investigation Finds. Does Yours?” Dec. 21). I am a psychotherapist and have written about this problem in my blog. The mercenary American health care system is hypocritical in the stressful financial demands and threats it imposes on so many patients. Stress due to health care-related bankruptcy, or the threat of bankruptcy, is harmful to one’s health. A health care system that is supposed to treat illness and restore health can, in fact, cause serious illness and/or exacerbate existing medical problems. The higher levels of stress and the threat of bankruptcy that all too frequently follow needed medical care can be harmful to individuals with cardiovascular issues such as high blood pressure and heart arrhythmia, and can trigger panic attacks in those who suffer from anxiety disorders. There may be digestive issues associated with higher levels of stress, and the patient’s sleep may be adversely affected. The individual may have to cut back on essentials such as food and medications because of unpaid medical bills, aggressive calls from collection agencies, and the threat of bankruptcy.
All of this in the name of “health care” delivered by professions and organizations that proclaim the importance of beneficence, justice, and non-malfeasance within their respective codes of ethics. Curative stress? Therapeutic bankruptcy? The hypocrisy is palpable.
American history is replete with examples of discrimination against certain groups, including racial discrimination, the disenfranchisement of women, child labor, and others. Eventually, political measures were enacted to correct these injustices. It’s only a matter of time until the American health care system, including the pharmaceutical industry, is forced to reform itself for the sake of the men, women, and children in need of essential health care. It’s not a question of if, but when.
Thanks for the article about hospitals suing patients. I just switched health plans in New York state. Reasons: My previous insurer raised my premium over 90% last year, paid very little of my claims (leaving Medicare to pay most of the claims), and sent me to collections. This, even though I worked two full-time jobs for most of my 46 years of teaching. How do insurance companies and hospitals get away with this unethical and outrageous behavior?
Unhappy New Year of Deductibles and Copays
Listened to a conversation between Noam N. Levey and NPR’s Ari Shapiro, regarding Levey’s article on Germany’s lack of medical debt (“What Germany’s Coal Miners Can Teach America About Medical Debt,” Dec. 14). Levey passed along the tidbit that Affordable Care Act plans purchased through state exchanges would pay a maximum out-of-pocket amount of $9,000 a year. Likely Mr. Levey knows the actual details of the ACA at least as well as I, but I had well over $20,000 in out-of-pocket expenses for my own care last year (in addition to annual premiums of over $15,000). The deductible/copay aspect of health insurance is rigged against folks who actually use their insurance. The in-network and out-of-network provider scheme is likewise designed to benefit providers as opposed to patients.
I’ve had health insurance for about 40 years, since I graduated from college. Always a plan paid for by myself, never through an employer. I’ve had my first year of using a lotof heath care services (colon cancer surgery and chemo follow-up), and the bills are quite astronomical. Still awaiting the final negotiations between Stanford Hospital and Blue Shield of California for the $97,000 bill for services for the surgery and stay in the hospital. Though my surgery was in September, the two had not resolved the bill by year-end. Now all my copays and deductibles have reset, and I’ll be back at the starting gate, dollar-wise.
Greedy to the Bone?
In orthopedics, surgery is where the money is (“More Orthopedic Physicians Sell Out to Private Equity Firms, Raising Alarms About Costs and Quality,” Jan. 6). Just as a private equity-controlled ophthalmology group tried to persuade me to have unnecessary cataract surgery (three other eye doctors agreed it wasn’t necessary), too many orthopedic patients can expect to be pushed to unnecessary surgeries.
The Painful Truth of the Opioid Epidemic
In a recent article, Aneri Pattani and Rae Ellen Bichell discussed disparities in the distribution of settlement funds from lawsuits against major pharmaceutical companies, especially in rural areas (“In Rural America, Deadly Costs of Opioids Outweigh the Dollars Tagged to Address Them,” Dec. 12).
We suggest that the merit of many of the lawsuits that led to these large settlements remains unproven. While Purdue Pharma clearly overstated the safety of prescription opioids in treating chronic pain, judges in two high-profile cases ruled in favor of the pharmaceutical companies stating that prosecutors falsely inflated the danger of opioids and noted that opioids used per FDA guidelines are safe and effective, remaining a vital means to treat chronic pain. Also, many cases involving Purdue Pharma, Johnson & Johnson, and others were settled based on expediency, rather than merit. This may have been due to the reasoning that continuing their defense against prosecutors having access to limitless public funds would lead to bankruptcy.
The primary cause of America’s overdose crisis is not physicians’ “overprescribing” opioids. Dr. Thomas Frieden, former head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, noted that the rise in prescription opioids paralleled the increase in opioid deaths up to 2010, leading the CDC to create guidelines in 2016 limiting opioid use to treat chronic pain. However, cause-and-effect relationships between the legitimate use of prescription opioids and opioid deaths remain unclear. For example, the National Institute on Drug Abuse noted in 2015 that since 2000, misuse of prescription drugs preceded the use of heroin in most cases. But legitimate prescriptions by physicians to patients with chronic pain constituted only 20% of the cases leading to heroin addiction. Prescription drugs used by heroin addicts were from family members or friends in 80% of the cases leading to heroin use.
Since at least 2010, the volume of prescription opioids dropped by over 60% — yet overdose deaths have skyrocketed to over 100,000 cases in 2021. The opioid overdose death crisis is now driven mainly by illegally imported fentanyl and in part by a misguided crackdown of the Drug Enforcement Administration against physicians who legitimately prescribe opioids to chronic pain patients, forcing them to seek out street drugs.
Statistics from Michigan indicate that nearly 40% of primary care clinics will no longer see new patients for pain management. The CDC, in its 2022 updated guidelines, attempted to clarify misunderstandings, including inappropriate rapid tapering and individualizing care. However, the public health crisis of undertreated pain remains. Some states have passed intractable pain laws to restore access to opioids to chronic pain patients with a legitimate need, indicating the shortfalls of the CDC guidelines to treat pain.
We’re fighting to hold accountable the companies that helped create and fuel the opioid crisis so we can help people struggling with opioid use disorder across North Carolina and the country get resources for treatment and recovery. We need this money now to save lives.
To that end, I wanted to flag one concern about the article on rural counties and opioid funding. It looks as if the comparison and the maps about North Carolina funding by county and overdose deaths may not correlate. The reporting seems to reflect overdose deaths on a per capita basis, but funding is indicated by total dollars received.
This spreadsheet might be helpful. It ranks each North Carolina county by the amount of funds they will receive from the distributor and Johnson & Johnson settlements (as posted on mapplecare.com) per capita, using 2019 population figures. In per capita rankings, rural and/or less populous counties are typically receiving more funding per capita than larger counties. For example, the 10 counties receiving the most per capita funding are all rural and/or less populous counties (Wilkes, Cherokee, Burke, Columbus, Graham, Yancey, Mitchell, Clay, Swain, and Surry). Wake County, our most populous county, is ranked 80th.
It’s also important to note that the formula was developed by experts for counsel to local governments in the national opioid litigation, who represent and have duties of loyalty to both large urban and small rural local governments. It takes into account opioid use disorder in the county (the number of people with opioid use disorder divided by the total number of people nationwide with opioid use disorder), overdose deaths as a percentage of the nation’s opioid overdose deaths, and the number of opioids in the county. Click here for more information.
Indeed, one of the special masters appointed by U.S. District Judge Dan Polster in the national opioid litigation found that the national allocation model “reflects a serious effort on the part of the litigating entities that devised it to distribute the class’s recovery according to the driving force at the heart of the lawsuit — the devastation caused by this horrific epidemic.” (See Page 5 of this report of Special Master Yanni.)
You’re absolutely right that rural counties were often the earliest and hardest hit by the opioid epidemic, and it’s critical that they receive funds to help get residents the treatment and recovery resources they need. We’re hopeful that these funds, whose allocation was determined in partnership by local government counsel, will help deliver those resources.
A Holistic Approach to Strengthening the Nursing Workforce Pipeline
As we face the nation’s worst nursing shortage in decades, some regions are adopting creative solutions to fill in the gaps (“Rural Colorado Tries to Fill Health Worker Gaps With Apprenticeships,” Nov. 29). To truly solve the root of this crisis, we must look earlier in the workforce pipeline.
The entire nation currently sits in a dire situation when it comes to having an adequate number of nurses — especially rural communities. With the tripledemic of covid-19, influenza, and RSV tearing through hospitals, it’s never been more evident how vital nurses are to the functioning of our health care system. A recent McKinsey report found that we need to double the number of nurses entering the workforce every year for the next three years to meet anticipated demand. Without support from policymakers and health care leaders, we cannot meet that.
As a health care executive myself, I’ve seen firsthand how impactful apprenticeships can be because they help sustain the health care workforce pipeline. From high school students to working adults, these “earn while you learn” apprenticeships allow students to make a living while working toward their degree, and my system’s apprenticeship program has even reduced our turnover by up to 50%. It provides a framework to support a competency-based education rooted in real-life skills and hands-on training for key nursing support roles, all while team members earn an income.
Education is key to developing competent, practice-ready nurses. Not just through apprenticeships but early on in students’ educational journey, too. According to the newest data from the nation’s report card, students in most states and most demographic groups experienced the steepest declines in math and reading ever recorded. As we continue to see the devastating impact the pandemic had on young learners, it’s crucial we invest more in remediation and support, so students graduate from secondary school with a deep understanding of these core competencies and are ready to pursue nursing. A recent survey of nearly 4,000 prospective nursing students from ATI Nursing Education found that a lack of academic preparedness was the top reason for delaying or forgoing nursing school.
Without intervention now, our nursing workforce shortage will only worsen in the future. We need our leaders to face these challenges head-on and invest in a holistic approach to strengthen our nursing pipeline. There’s no time to waste.
Planning Major Surgery? Plan Ahead
I read Judith Graham’s good article “Weighing Risks of a Major Surgery: 7 Questions Older Americans Should Ask Their Surgeon” (Jan. 3) on CNN. Thought I should add some personal experience. At age 78, my mother had back surgery in 2016. When she was getting prepped, she was given multiple documents to sign. Once signed, she was immediately taken to surgery. There was not enough time to read any of them. In hindsight, we are certain the documents were mostly for release of liability if something goes wrong. After surgery, she had “drop foot” — total loss of use of her left foot. Never heard of it. She was told she would regain use in about six months. Never happened. She had to use a walker and still had numerous falls in which her head had hit the ground multiple times. She slowly slid into long-term “confusion” that was attributed to her falls and passed away at age 84.
My story is about my abdominal aorta aneurysm surgery in 2022 at age 62. I did not have an overnight recovery — tube taken out of my throat, catheter removed, and was immediately transferred to a room. An IV pump of saline was left on and my arm swelled up — I thought my arm was going to burst. Five days later, I was discharged. Everything seemed rushed. The only postsurgical “instructions” I received were to keep the incision clean and not to play golf, and I don’t even play golf. I recuperated at home, and after five months I still have abdominal pain that I’ll always have.
Both of our surgeries were done on a Friday. I’m certain our experiences were due to hospital staff wanting to leave early on Friday, and weekend staffers are mostly the “B” team. So, my advice is to suggest to the elderly not to have surgery scheduled on a Friday unless there is absolute urgency in choosing the date.
I am writing to express my concerns over the significant misinformation in the article about what older Americans should ask their surgeon before major surgery.
Most abdominal aortic aneurysms are treated with endovascular methods. These minimally invasive procedures still require general anesthesia (with a breathing tube), but most patients have the tube removed before leaving the operating room, and many patients leave the hospital the next day with minimal functional limitations due to surgery being performed through half-inch incisions in each groin.
The “best case” surgical scenario described in your article describes open abdominal aortic aneurysm repair, which is recommended for fewer than 20% of patients requiring aortic aneurysm repairs.
In essence, you’re threatening everyone who comes in for a tuneup with an engine rebuild.
Abdominal aortic aneurysms are still undertreated in the U.S., with many patients not receiving screening recommended by Medicare since 2006. Your article misrepresents the “best case” scenario and may dissuade patients from receiving lifesaving care.
— Dr. David Nabi, Newport Beach, California
I read, with interest, Judith Graham’s article about older Americans preparing for major surgery. But you failed to mention the life-altering effects of anesthesia. My independent 82-year-old mother had a minor fall in July and broke her hip. After undergoing anesthesia, she is required to have 24/7 care as her short-term memory has been forever altered. Was there a choice not to have hip surgery? I didn’t hear one. Did anyone explain the issues that could (and often do) occur with an elderly brain due to anesthesia? No. And now we are dealing with this consequence. And what happens when you don’t have money (like most people in the U.S.) for 24/7 care? I hope you’ll consider writing about this.
The High Bar of Medicare Advantage Transparency
Unfortunately, KHN’s article “How Medicare Advantage Plans Dodged Auditors and Overcharged Taxpayers by Millions” (Dec. 13) provided a misleading, incomplete depiction of Medicare Advantage payment.
This story focuses largely on audits that, in some cases, are more than a decade old. While KHN’s focus is on alleged “overpayment,” the same audits show that many plans were underpaid by as much as $773 per patient.
More recent research demonstrates Medicare Advantage’s affordability and responsible stewardship of Medicare dollars. For example, an October 2021 Milliman report concludes “the federal government pays less and gets more for its dollar in MA than in FFS,” while the Department of Health and Human Services’ fiscal year 2021 report shows that the net improper payment rate in Medicare Advantage was roughly half that of fee-for-service Medicare.
KHN’s article is right about one thing: Only a small fraction of Medicare Advantage plans are audited each year — denying policymakers and the public a fuller understanding of the program’s exceptional value to seniors and the health care system. That is why Better Medicare Alliance has called for regulators to conduct Risk Adjustment Data Validation (RADV) audits of every Medicare Advantage plan every year.
There are opportunities, as outlined in our recent policy recommendations, to further strengthen and improve Medicare Advantage’s high bar of transparency and accountability, but that effort is not well served by this misleading article.
Targeting Gun Violence
I’m curious why KHN neglected to actually get into all the “meat and potatoes” regarding its report on Colorado’s red flag law (“Colorado Considers Changing Its Red Flag Law After Mass Shooting at Nightclub,” Dec. 23). Specifically, it failed to report that the suspect in this case used a “ghost gun” to execute the crime in Colorado Springs, and more importantly what impact any red flag law is going to have on a person who manufactures their own illegal firearm. Lastly, why is it the national conversation regarding the illegal use and possession of firearms curiously avoids any in-depth, substantive conversation of access to firearms by mentally ill people? Quite frankly, this is the underlying cause of illegal firearms use and no one wants to step up to the plate and address the issue at any in-depth level. It’s categorically embarrassing for American journalism.
Carlo Marks talks about his new Hallmark movie ‘The Wedding Veil Inspiration’
Actor Carlo Marks (“Chesapeake Shores”) chatted about his new Hallmark movie “The Wedding Veil Inspiration.”
Terry Ingram directed it from a script by Betsy Morris, inspired by the book “There Goes the Bride” by Lori Wilde.
Aside from Marks, it stars Autumn Reeser, Alison Sweeney, Lacey Chabert, and Kacey Rohl. It will premiere on Saturday, January 14, 2023, as part of the network’s “New Year, New Movies” programming event.
In the second movie of this sequel trilogy, Emma (Autumn Reeser) is sticking to her five year plan, as Paolo (Paolo Bernardini) prepares to open a lace shop in Chicago with his cousin Matteo (Carlo Marks).
On track to assume a promotion to department chair, Emma feels strongly that things fall into place before she and Paolo can consider growing their family; however, Paolo worries that that day may never come. When a crisis at home calls Paolo back to Italy, the couple must navigate busy schedules to make time for each other from afar.
Missing Paolo, Emma bumps heads with Nancy (Lynda Boyd), the current chair of her department and begins to question her life choices. Thankfully, she has frequent calls, texts and visits with Tracy (Alison Sweeney) and Avery (Lacey Chabert), who seem to know her better than she knows herself.
She also has a friend in her smart and quirky teacher’s aide, Lily (Kacey Rohl), who provides Emma with a novel opportunity to get people excited about art, but it might mean giving up everything she’s worked for.
Meanwhile, Emma cannot help but notice a spark between Lily and Matteo – who both happened to be touching the veil when they met. As Emma tries to get Lily to trust her heart, she must find the courage to stop planning her own dream life and start living it.
“It was a lot of fun,” he admitted. “Obviously, the whole cast knew each other but I was coming in fresh as the new guy.”
He had great words about Paolo Bernardini, who plays his cousin. “Paolo has a lot of energy, but I liked him. Working with him was so great,” he said with a sweet laugh.
“Kacey is a tremendous actor, she is new to Hallmark but she fit in perfectly and she has a unique sense of humor. It was lovely working opposite her. Autumn Reeser is lovely and a grounded human being.”
He noted that “Chesapeake Shores” was six years of his life. “It was fun and it was nice to come back to it each year,” he said. “It was in the most beautiful location in the world, where I happen to be from. It felt like going home, it was such a gift.”
On being an actor in the digital age, Marks said, “It doesn’t make a difference to me. The camera is still the same camera. It changes more as a viewer and as a consumer, you have so many options it’s overwhelming. As an actor, you are connecting with other human beings. The industry has changed more than the art.”
For young and aspiring actors, he said, “Do it whenever and wherever you can, and take every opportunity to do it. Have fun doing it no matter what it is. That’s my advice.”
On the title of the current chapter of his life, Marks said, “Halfway There.”
Regarding his definition of the word success, he said, “Being happy no matter where you are and what is going on outside of you. That’s the ultimate success. Superficial success is being able to eat, have shelter, and take care of the people that you love.”
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