According to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, 43-year-old Tuan Vu, who owns Cosmetic & Family Dentistry, PLLC, pled guilty in January to committing health care fraud. Court documents show that Vu admitted the scheme took place at least from January 2007 to September 2011, when he billed dental insurance providers for services he never performed on his patients.
Because of the scheme, more than 50 private insurance providers lost more than $2 million. The federal government and the Commonwealth of Virginia also suffered losses, including more than $300,000 to the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program and the Virginia Medicaid program.
Vu was sentenced to 46 months in prison, to be followed by two years of supervised release. Additionally, he was ordered to pay a $250,000 fine and more than $2 million in restitution.
It’s Friday the 13th — According to superstition, it’s a day of supreme unluckiness. According to one Dutch statistics keeper, it’s actually less unlucky than other days. [Wikipedia]
Reminder: Blue, Yellow Line Work — As a reminder, track work will shut down the Blue and Yellow lines between the Pentagon City and Braddock Road stations this weekend. That means the Crystal City and National Airport stations will be closed. Free shuttle bus service will be provided.
Streetcar Skepticism on Board — Arlington County Board members Libby Garvey and Walter Tejada are both expressing skepticism about the controversial Columbia Pike streetcar project. The Board is scheduled to vote on the project on Monday, July 23. [Sun Gazette]
Colombia National Day Celebration — Arlington will celebrate the 24th annual Colombia National Day on Saturday (July 14). The event, which starts at 6:30 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson Theater (125 S. Old Glebe Road) will feature festivities like Colombian folkloric dance and musical performances. For more information, call 703-228-1850.
Murray on Moran Health Care Vote — Republican congressional candidate Patrick Murray is blasting his opponent, Rep. Jim Moran (D), for voting against the latest GOP attempt to repeal President Obama’s health care law. “I’m an eternal optimist,” Murray said. “I hoped against hope that, after having had an opportunity to actually read what is in this 2,700 page bill, Moran would have put partisanship aside and voted in favor of Americans. Sadly he again chose Party over country, particularly for young Americans.”
Flickr pool photo by BrianMKA
By a 5-4 decision, announced this morning, the Supreme Court has upheld President’ Obama heath care law. Numerous local and state officials and candidates are now weighing in on the high court’s ruling.
Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell (R) called the decision a “blow to freedom.”
Today’s Supreme Court ruling is extremely disappointing for Virginia and for America. The PPACA will create a costly and cumbersome system that will impair our country’s ability to recover from these challenging economic times, infringes on our citizen’s liberties, will harm small businesses, and will impose dramatic unfunded mandates on Virginia and all states. Simply put, this is a blow to freedom. America needs market-based solutions that give patients more choice, not less.
Virginia will evaluate the steps necessary to comply with the law. While we have awaited this decision, planners have been working to identify necessary resources and issues to be addressed to ensure Virginia implements this flawed law in the most effective and least costly and burdensome way possible. In coming months, Virginia’s healthcare leaders will work to develop the best possible system to meet the healthcare needs of our citizens. It remains my hope that we will elect a new President and Senate so that the existing law will be repealed and states will be given the freedom they need to implement healthcare solutions that work best for their citizens. We will evaluate the opinion in detail in the days ahead and determine what policies are proper for the people of Virginia.
Rep. Jim Moran (D) applauded the ruling, saying the Affordable Care Act will result in “life-saving reforms.”
Today the Supreme Court reaffirmed what Democrats and President Obama have known for two years; the Affordable Care Act stands on firm constitutional grounds.
People across the country are already benefiting from reforms in the Affordable Care Act, including 6.6 million young people who can stay on their parents’ insurance, 105 million Americans who no longer have a lifetime limit on their coverage, and 5.3 million seniors in the ‘donut hole’ who have saved $3.7 billion on their prescription drugs.
Though today’s ruling provides assurance as the Administration phases in life-saving reforms including a ban on insurance companies denying coverage to individuals with pre-existing conditions, Republicans in Congress will undoubtedly continue their efforts to dismantle critical provisions of the Affordable Care Act. We must continue fighting these efforts in the House of Representatives to repeal ACA.
Passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009 represented a giant leap forward to not only make our health care system work better for Americans of any age, race, gender, or income level, but to rescue our economy from the suffocating grip of spiraling health care costs. We spend nearly 18 percent of our entire economy on health care – twice what every other industrialized nation pays. The Affordable Care Act will reduce our deficit while improving access to, and the quality of, care for all Americans.
Washington has been struggling to deliver meaningful health care reform for more than six decades. Today’s ruling means the United States can finally see its way closer to delivering on that promise for all Americans.
Virginia Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli (R), a leading opponent of the health care law, said today is “a dark day for American liberty.” He is planning to hold a press conference at noon today in Richmond to discuss the decision.
Backyard Chicken Debate Rages On — Egg-laying hens aren’t all they’re cracked up to be, according to an Arlington resident whose neighbor had an illegal chicken coop. “I can tell you that I thought we had excessive flies, we had rodents; the chickens do make noise and there is a smell,” Darryl Hobbs told WUSA9 at a community discussion about backyard chicken raising last night. Chicken supporters dispute claims that their coops are unsanitary, and say that egg-laying hens produce a steady stream of healthy, tasty and sustainable food. [WUSA 9]
Shoplifting Suspect Flees Down Metro Tracks — Metro trains were temporarily shut down near the Pentagon City station Tuesday night after a shoplifting suspect jumped on the tracks in an attempt to get away. The man, who’s accused of shoplifting from the Nordstom’s in Pentagon City, was eventually caught by Metro Transit Police. [NBC Washington]
Hope Wants Insurance Exchange — Arlington’s Del. Patrick Hope (D) is one of the Democratic lawmakers hoping to pass a law to create a state-run health insurance exchange during the new General Assembly session in Richmond. All states are to have an insurance exchange in place by the end of 2013 under the Obama health care plan. “It will allow small businesses and individuals the opportunity to leverage similar to or even greater resources than that of large employers, using that clout to drive better pricing, choices and quality,” Hope said. [Roanoke Times]
Yoga, Pilates, Spinning in Clarendon — Mind the Mat, a new yoga and Pilates studio, opened in Clarendon this week. The studio, at 3300B Fairfax Drive, is offering free classes this week. Meanwhile Revolve, an indoor cycling studio that opened at 1025 N. Fillmore Street in Clarendon late last year, is holding its official grand opening celebration tonight from 6:00 to 9:00 p.m.
Correction to Item Yesterday — A Morning Notes item yesterday erroneously stated that County Board member Walter Tejada was seeking the creation of a proposed Office of Latino Affairs in Arlington. In fact it’s BU-GATA, a tenants-rights organization, that is proposing the office’s creation. Tejada told ARLnow.com that he supports improving services for Latino residents, but doesn’t think the creation of a separate county department is necessarily the best way to go about it. “I don’t think it’s the thing to do,” he said. ARLnow.com regrets the error.
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief
More US Airways Flights at DCA? — US Airways is seeking regulatory approval for a plan that will give it more flights in and out of Reagan National Airport. The airline, which serves almost 4 million passengers annually at DCA, has negotiated a deal to acquire some of Delta’s take-off and landing slots in exchange for cash and slots at LaGuardia Airport in New York. [Sun Gazette]
Local Dog a Frontrunner in Postal Contest — Jordy, a mixed-breed terrier who resides in Arlington, is a frontrunner in an online contest organized by the Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum. Jordy is currently neck-and-neck with a terrier mix named Bentley in a contest to find an Owney lookalike — Owney, for the uninitiated, is a postal service mascot of yesteryear. Owner and Arlington resident Patrice Robinson is trying to rally locals to vote for Jordy. Voting is being conducted on Facebook. [Washington Post, Facebook]
Patch Adams Rallies D.C. Protesters — East Falls Church resident Dr. Patch Adams, of eponymous film fame, rallied “Occupy D.C.” protesters in the District last night. While there, the 66-year-old Dr. Adams told the Huffington Post that President Obama’s health care reform efforts have been worthless. “He sold out,” Adams said. [Huffington Post]
State Senate candidate and Arlington County Board Member Barbara Favola is calling on Virginia health insurers to cover birth control and other reproductive health services for women.
Favola said she would sponsor legislation to require Virginia insurers to follow the Institute of Medicine’s recent recommendations that women be provided birth control, STD counseling, breast pumps and other health services at no charge. According to a campaign press release:
“Virginia insurers should cover birth control which is basic health care for women,” Favola said. “If they won’t do it voluntarily, I will sponsor legislation that mandates it. It’s time for women’s health to be a priority in Virginia.”
The Institute for Medicine, an independent, nonprofit organization, released a report today that says health insurance plans should be required to fully cover contraceptives and reproductive education with no cost to patients under the new federal health care law. Annual HIV tests, breastfeeding support and a well-woman care visit should also be fully covered as preventive health measures according to the recommendations.
“Women who have the opportunity to plan their families have healthier children and are better able to care for them. Yet, women are forced to pay more for health care because birth control is not covered by many insurance companies,” Favola continued, “It’s time for that to change. I will lead the fight in the Virginia state senate to make that a reality.”
Favola’s opponent in the Democratic primary, Jaime Areizaga-Soto, has consistently said that he supports the “reproductive rights of women.”
The Veterans Administration is holding its annual “Welcome Home Celebration” for hundreds of returning combat veterans in Crystal City next weekend.
The event, at the Crystal Gateway Marriott (1700 Jefferson Davis Highway), will be held from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 14. It will serve to educate returning veterans, active duty service personnel and their family members about the VA’s benefits and health care service, through on-site enrollment services, health screenings and benefits counseling.
There will also be a job fair for Iraq and Afghanistan vets, as well as family-friendly entertainment, music and a free lunch.
An urgent care clinic is coming to to South Fern Street in Pentagon City.
The clinic may be named “Pentagon Health,” according to building permits in the windows. It’s located between a Dunkin’ Donuts and a UPS Store, across from Costco, and just down the street from the future location of the current Eads Street Post Office.
Rep. Jim Moran dropped by the Arlington Free Clinic (2921 11th Street South) yesterday to help promote the clinic’s mission of providing high-quality health care to low-income individuals.
Moran spent the afternoon helping to check in patients at the clinic’s front desk. Between patients, he talked about the clinic’s importance to the community.
“I wanted to give more visibility to the Arlington Free Clinic and the people they serve,” he said as a half dozen patients read magazines in the clinic’s sunny waiting room. “They desperately need this service. Otherwise they couldn’t afford their prescription medicine, or the preventive care, or the specialized care the clinic is able to refer people to.”
Currently, the clinic only accepts about 30 percent of patients who apply for care through a lottery system. Moran said that even with the new health care reform law that he championed, the Arlington Free Clinic will continue to play a vital role in the community.
“This is a valuable service,” he said. “This will supplement what we’re able to do through health care reform.”
Since it opened in 1993, the Arlington Free Clinic has been providing medical care to uninsured adults. The clinic relies on a team of 700 volunteers, including 170 physicians. AFC says it does not receive federal or county funding.
Moran’s volunteer work at the clinic was part of his “Jim Pitches In” series, which is intended to highlight the work of local non-profits. Last month Moran delivered Meals on Wheels to seniors in Alexandria.
Uncompensated Care Costs Local Hospitals $102 Million — While discussing health care on a local TV interview show earlier this week, Rep. Jim Moran (D-Va.) cited a figure that seemed unbelievable. Moran said that in our congressional district alone, hospitals spend more than $100 million per year paying for those who don’t have insurance or can’t pay the bills. That figure appears to be accurate, says TBD’s Facts Machine.
Lawmakers Outline Priorities — Arlington’s state lawmakers discussed their priorities for the 2011 legislative session earlier this week. Proposals include eliminating the sales tax on food and replacing it with a higher income tax for the wealthy, increasing the state’s low cigarette tax and setting more stringent requirements on petition drives. More from the Sun Gazette.
Leaf Bag Collection Enters Final Week — If you still have bags of leaves lying around, now is the time to get rid of them. Arlington County’s final leaf bag collection will begin Monday. See the collection schedule here.
Non-Stop Bhangra at Artisphere — Organizers describe it as a non-stop party that feels like a scene from a Bollywood movie. San Francisco-based Non-Stop Bhangra will be rocking the house at Artisphere’s Saturday Night Dance Party this weekend. The party starts at 11:01 p.m. and features dance lessons, dance performances, live music sets and “DJs spinning an eclectic mix of bhangra, hip hop, reggae and electronica.” More from Arlington Arts.
Flickr pool photo by Chris Rief
McDonnell Pushes For Quick Action on Health Care Challenge — Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell, who praised state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli’s now-successful challenge to President Obama’s health care reform law, wants the federal government’s inevitable appeal to go straight to the Supreme Court rather than take a more circuitous route through a federal appeals court. “Everybody knows it’s going to go to the U.S. Supreme Court,” the governor told Fox News.
W&OD Trail Closure Postponed — A portion of the W&OD Trail was supposed to be closed today to allow for power line work, but that has been postponed indefinitely because of the wind, a county official says.
Street Closure Near Rosslyn Metro Sunday – North Moore Street between Wilson Boulevard and 19th Street North will be closed all Sunday as a result of utility work for the Rosslyn Metro entrance project. Buses that normally use the street will be redirected to North Lynn Street. Signs will be in place to direct riders.
Union Jack’s Reviewed — Parody, or just really enthusiastic? You decide.
Flickr pool photo by Amber Wilkie
Today, in response to Cuccinelli’s lawsuit, a federal judge ruled that a key provision in the health care law which requires individuals to obtain health insurance is unconstitutional. Obama administration lawyers are planning to appeal the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.
In a short Twitter message, Cuccinelli refrained from taking a long victory lap.
“[The health care] ruling is in. Virginia won this round,” he said succinctly.
The ruling will have little immediate effect in terms the law’s implementation. The White House says it expects the challenge to be resolved before most of the health care law’s key changes are implemented in 2014.
Update at 1:50 p.m. — Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell is scheduled to appear on Fox News between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. to discuss the ruling. Read McDonnell’s statement on the court’s decision here.
Update at 2:05 p.m. — White House spokesperson Robert Gibbs responds to the ruling: “We are confident that the affordable care act will be upheld.”
Read My Lips, No New Taxis — County staff is taking a hard line on taxi cabs, recommending that the board reject a request to add 75 taxis to Arlington’s current licensed fleet of 765 cabs. More from the Sun Gazette.
Long Bridge Park Construction Continues — Despite the budgetary challenges, the county board has reaffirmed its commitment to complete all phases of the Long Bridge Park project near Crystal City. More from TBD.
Arlington Free Clinic Holds Lottery — To become a patient at the Arlington Free Clinic requires a bit of luck. The clinic will serve no more than 1,600 patients, so once a month it holds a “lottery day” to decide who gets to receive clinic services. More from MyFoxDC.
Snowmageddon: The Book – If someone you know is going through blizzard withdrawal, the fine folks over at the Capital Weather Gang have the perfect holiday gift for you. They’ve come up with a 120-page book, filled with photos and nerdy weather stuff from everybody’s favorite freak succession of snow storms. More from CWG.
Del. David Englin (D) is firing back at someone who sent him a not-so-nice email last night. He forwarded the letter to supporters and asked for contributions to “send this person a message.”
Here’s the email Englin received:
From: Eric [Last Name Redacted]
Date: Tue, Apr 13, 2010 at 10:03 PM
Subject: Health Care
To: DelDEnglin [at] house.virginia.gov
So I hear you’re opposed to [Virginia Attorney General Ken] Cuccinelli’s lawsuit against the Health Care reform. Well, I’m here to tell you that I’m 110% FOR Cuccinelli and his lawsuit. You must be a loonatic to think the Health Care Bill will do anything but bankrupt America and create a Socialist, Government ruled land. You are the type of un-American trash that will be voted out and replaced with a real patriot. And I will be glad to see you go.
Have a great day,
Englin, who served in the military, said on Twitter that he “loves it when Tea Baggers who’ve never served a day in uniform in their life call me ‘un-American trash’ and call themselves ‘true patriots.’”
In his email, Englin explained the reason for forwarding the letter:
I’m forwarding this note I received last night — an example of the hate mail I’m getting from Tea Party activists for standing up to Ken Cuccinelli and his right-wing crusades.
As you can see, we can’t afford to take anything for granted. I need to raise $10,000 by mid-May to fund my annual post-session newsletter to constituents, both to keep them informed, and because the more they hear from me now, the more likely they will vote for me next year.
Englin represents parts of Arlington, Alexandria and Fairfax County.
“While complex and politically difficult, I think everyone on Capitol Hill knows in their heart of hearts that health reform is in the best interests of the people back at home and of the nation as a whole,” Moran said.
Moran’s office outlined the benefits it expects his congressional district, which includes Arlington, will receive as a result of health care reform:
- 493,000 people will see improvements in their current health care coverage.
- 8,700 people who can’t buy health insurance now because of a pre-existing condition will be able to obtain coverage.
- 101,000 families will get tax credits to help make health insurance more affordable.
- 17,500 small businesses will get tax credits to help make health insurance more affordable for their employees.
- 64,000 Medicare beneficiaries will see better care and will pay less for prescription drugs because the Medicare Part D donut hole will be closed.
- 50,000 young adults living in the 8th district will be able to stay on their parents’ health insurance policy until their 26th birthday.
- 29,000 uninsured residents will have access to health care coverage.
- 800 families won’t have to file for bankruptcy due to unaffordable health care costs.
- 8 community health centers in the eighth district will receive millions of dollars in new funding to see thousands of new patients.
“Some of the benefits in the reform package are gradual and will be phased-in over time,” Moran said in a statement. “But many benefits will kick in this year.”