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Quick Hits - July 11, 2012

By ASE Staff   July 11, 2012 | Categories: Miscellaneous

 

Sequestration—the next jobs killer: “Sequestration” is an automatic enforcement mechanism created by the Budget Control Act (BCA) of 2011 as a result of the debt ceiling debate. If it happens it will force $1.2 trillion in across-the-board spending cuts starting January 1, 2013. Congress is reviewing President Obama's 2013 budget, which will begin a 10-year process of cutting $487 billion from the military.  Defense contractors will face an additional half-trillion dollars of automatic cuts mandated by the same law.  These consequences were triggered by the lawmakers' failure last fall to agree on a long-term deficit-reduction plan.The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) says all of those defense cuts could slash one million jobs, including 134,000 in manufacturing. Lockheed Martin CEO Robert Stevens has said the automatic cuts could lead to widespread layoffs. Left unabated, it could potentially have serious consequences for Michigan federal contractors and subcontractors. Congressional optimists hope to enact legislation before the election to head it off.  If they do not, because of the WARN Act  that requires 60-day notice of mass firings, layoff notices would most likely have to be sent out before the November elections — a development that would further shake up the presidential race.  Source: USAToday.com 7/4/12, Politico.com, Heritage Foundation

Global medical costs appear to be stabilizing, especially in the U.S.: According to The Towers Watson Global Medical Trends Survey, the average medical trend world-wide is 9.8% for 2011 and projected to run at a similar level for 2012. Aside from Europe, all regions are continuing to experience global medical trend rates rising at double-digit levels. While some countries are seeing rates stabilize, a number of growth markets in the Asia Pacific region and Latin America continue to face increases above 10%. In particular for North America, a trend of 11% is reported. However, separate Towers Watson research indicates that leading employers in the U.S. are experiencing a much lower trend (6% to 8%). High cost pressures in the U.S. have been in place for some time, and this lower number may be the result of stronger health management initiatives finally paying off for employers. The trend in Canada appears to be dropping slightly for 2011 and 2012 — from 12.5% in 2009 to a projected level of 10.5% in 2012. While traditional cost management approaches still dominate, wellness interventions are growing, with insurers increasing their wellness capabilities through in-house or partner resources. The survey was conducted in January 2012 and reflects responses from 237 leading medical insurers operating in 48 countries.  Source Towers Watson

Google reinvents training to make a competitive advantage: GoogleEDU is formalizing learning at the company in an entirely new way, relying on data analytics and other measures to ensure it is teaching employees what they need to know to keep profits humming.  Last year, Google offered more classes to more employees than it ever had before, with about a third of its 33,100-strong global workforce going through the in-house program. It cut classes that didn't work and retooled others. "What's important is that it aligns with our overall business strategy," says Karen May, Google's vice president of leadership and talent, who has led the revamping of GoogleEDU. U.S. businesses spent $171.5 billion on learning and development in 2010, the latest statistics according to the American Society for Training and Development (ASTD). Google thinks it has found a way to make its learning stick. It has become more exacting about when it offers classes and to whom. For example, in a culture in which titles don’t matter, Google offers a special class for new managers and executives where they are taught how to exert influence in more subtle ways, says Ms. May. "One of the practicalities of a less hierarchical company is that you aren't necessarily going to have the position power to decree something or dictate something," she says.  Source:  The Wall Street Journal 7/5/12

Whistleblower collects $700 million for reporting GlaxoSmithKline violations: GlaxoSmithKline agreed to plead guilty and to pay $3 billion to resolve its criminal and civil liability arising from the company’s unlawful promotion of certain prescription drugs, its failure to report certain safety data, and its civil liability for alleged false price reporting practices. The resolution is the largest health care fraud settlement in U.S. history and the largest payment ever by a drug company. Lois Graydon, a nursing professional and former GSK therapeutic sales manager, and the whistleblower in this case, will receive more than $700 million as her share of the recovery.  As part of this global resolution, GSK has agreed to resolve its civil liability for the following alleged conduct: (1) promoting the drugs Paxil, Wellbutrin, Advair, Lamictal and Zofran for off-label, non-covered uses and paying kickbacks to physicians to prescribe those drugs as well as the drugs Imitrex, Lotronex, Flovent and Valtrex; (2) making false and misleading statements concerning the safety of Avandia; and (3) reporting false best prices and underpaying rebates owed under the Medicaid Drug Rebate Program. Source:  CCH 7/5/12

Quiz Question—Name the 12th U.S. President (check one): ( ) Zachary Taylor; ( ) Opie Taylor;  ( ) Taylor Swift: Given the national discourse of the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act, a national survey from Xavier University's Center for the Study of the American Dream reveals 33% of native-born citizens failed the civics portion of the naturalization test, in stark contrast to the 97.5% pass rate among immigrants applying for citizenship.  Passing means answering six out of 10 questions correctly.  If the pass rate were seven out of 10, 50% of native-born Americans would fail. The Center's nationwide survey tested adult Americans on 10 random questions taken directly from the naturalization test.  The Center's research persistently shows a strong distrust of our public institutions, particularly government and our political leaders, yet 59% of survey respondents could not name one power of the federal government, 77% could not name one power of the states, and 62% could not name the Governor of their state.  Other findings include these: 71% were unable to identify the Constitution as the "supreme law of the land,” and 68% did not know how many justices are on the Supreme Court. Unsurprisingly, 75% were not able to correctly answer "What does the judiciary branch do?"  And no, Abraham Lincoln was not the Buffy the Vampire Slayer of his day.  Source: Xavier University's Center for the Study of the American Dream April 27, 2012

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