Idaho State University will pay $400,000 to settle allegations that it violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, the federal law, known as Hipaa, that governs the privacy of medical records, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights announced on Tuesday.
The office said the settlement concerned a breach of health records belonging to roughly 17,500 patients at the university’s family-medicine clinic in Pocatello, Idaho. The university notified the department of the breach, in which patients’ records were made vulnerable to exposure for at least 10 months because firewall protections on the university’s servers had been disabled.
An investigation by the federal office found that the university’s risk assessments were incomplete. The office said Idaho State had agreed to correct the problems identified in its investigation. An Idaho State compliance officer told the Associated Press that the institution had found that none of the records made vulnerable were actually compromised.
The Association of Private Sector Colleges and Universities said on Wednesday it had received word that the U.S. Department of Education has elected not to appeal a federal judge’s decision last year that blocked key parts of the agency’s controversial “gainful employment” rule before the regulation took effect.
Instead of continuing with litigation over the rule, the department this week convened the first of four hearings that it will hold in advance of a second round of rule making focused on fraud in the student-aid system, which is expected to begin in the fall. The rule-making process will revisit the gainful-employment issue.
The original rule would have cut off federal student aid to career-oriented higher-education programs whose graduates had high debt-to-income ratios and low loan-repayment rates, but a judge blocked key parts of the rule after the association, which represents for-profit colleges, challenged it in court.
“With the Congress expected to undertake Higher Education [Act] reauthorization in the coming months, we hope Congress will help all institutions of higher education, and the department, determine where and how we create appropriate protocols to determine outcomes for all students at all institutions,” said Steve Gunderson, Apscu’s president, in a written statement. The department did not immediately confirm that it decided not to appeal the decision.
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs should do more to improve the management of its Post-9/11 GI Bill Program, which provides benefits to veterans who pursue a higher education, by cutting down on payment delays, working with colleges to give veterans more information about their financial-aid options, and taking advantage of outcomes data.
Those conclusions are among the recommendations in a report released on Wednesday by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, which in 2011 also issued recommendations to the department regarding concerns about the program.
The GAO’s latest review found that, in the 2012 fiscal year, the department took an average of 31 days to process a new application, which is eight days longer than the department’s target benchmark. The department also took an average of 17 days to process a claim for benefit payment, five days longer than its target, the report says.
Student veterans faced several challenges as a result of the delays, the report says, and many said they took on more debt to cover the shortfall. Since its last report on the matter, the GAO said the department had worked on a new system to deal with such delays, though the GAO found the creation of that system had faced delays of its own.
The report says the department generally agreed with the GAO’s findings and vowed that it had taken steps to resolve problems identified by the review. It notes that the department is developing a long-term study to track veterans’ outcomes over the next two decades, and says officials expect an annual survey of Post-9/11 GI Bill beneficiaries to begin this year.
President Miloš Zeman of the Czech Republic on Wednesday abandoned his opposition to conferring the title of professor upon one of his critics, after taking issue with the scholar’s gay-rights activism. His refusal to appoint Martin C. Putna, an esteemed literary historian at Prague’s Charles University, set off a wave of criticism from students, academics, and other politicians. Mr. Zeman asked the country’s education minister to bestow the title upon Mr. Putna.
New York University’s law school has announced that it will shut down a legal-education program it had introduced in partnership with the National University of Singapore, saying that the program will end when its Class of 2014 graduates. In its announcement, NYU said the cost of graduate legal education had risen “significantly” in recent years, and said the program had been made possible by a grant from the government of Singapore. The two universities have agreed to end the program without seeking additional money to continue it. The move marks the second time in the last year that NYU has decided to end a program in Singapore due to financial woes. Last November its Tisch School of the Arts Asia announced that it would stop admitting new students.
Eddie R. Williams, Northern Illinois University’s executive vice president for finance and chief of operations, will retire at the end of this month, shortly after returning from a two-month leave of absence. His leave began when FBI agents executed a search warrant indicating that they were investigating whether he had used campus police officers to respond to crimes reported at a housing development he owns. Mr. Williams has worked at the institution for more than four decades.
The National Center for Education Statistics, the Education Department’s statistical arm, on Tuesday released a “first look” report at new data on college pricing across sectors, finding that tuition and required fees for in-state students at four-year, public institutions rose by 6.7 percent from 2010-11 to 2012-13. That increase outpaced the rise in tuition for out-of-state students over the same period, which the report said was 4.1 percent. Four-year, private nonprofit institutions saw an increase of 3.1 percent. At four-year, private for-profit colleges, tuition and fees dropped by 2.2 percent. The report also includes data on 2011-12 enrollments as well as degrees conferred.
Three medical researchers at New York University have been charged with commercial bribery for allegedly trading information about their magnetic-resonance-imaging research for payments from a Chinese company, according to The Wall Street Journal and a news release by federal prosecutors.
The U.S. attorney’s office in Manhattan said in the news release that two of the researchers, Yudong Zhu and Xing Yang, were arrested on Sunday. The third, Ye Li, was believed to have flown to China before charges could be brought. All three were charged with one count of commercial bribery. Mr. Zhu, an associate professor of radiology, was also charged with falsifying records in connection with a National Institutes of Health grant that financed the research. The three were accused of concealing ties to a Chinese medical-imaging company and a research institute sponsored by the Chinese government.
A spokesman for NYU’s Langone Medical Center said the institution was “deeply disappointed” by the researchers’ alleged misconduct. He said the university became aware of possible irregularities in the research, and notified prosecutors after conducting its own investigation. He said the three researchers had been suspended and added that the university was continuing to cooperate with the investigation.
Lawyers for Mr. Zhu and Mr. Yang did not respond to the newspaper’s requests for comment.
President Miloš Zeman of the Czech Republic is drawing criticism for refusing to grant one of his critics a university professorship, after hinting that he objected to the scholar’s gay-rights activism. Martin C. Putna, a literary historian at Charles University, in Prague, supported Mr. Zeman’s rival in the January presidential election. According to Radio Prague, Mr. Zeman said he respected Mr. Putna’s sexual orientation but took issue with a sign Mr. Putna carried in a 2011 gay-pride parade. Czech presidents customarily appoint the country’s professors after they are nominated by their universities, in a process that is usually a formality.
A long-running research experiment at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology that explores nuclear fusion as a possible source of energy will close after a series of cuts in its federal financing, resulting in layoffs for 70 employees unless Congress moves to avert the shutdown. The closure will leave two fusion experiments in the United States. The U.S. Department of Energy is increasing its support of fusion research, though money is being shifted to an international project, known as ITER, that is being built in France. Another fusion-energy experiment, at Princeton University, was terminated in 2008.