Medicare fraud nets 91
WASHINGTON — A federal strike force has charged 91 people, including a hospital president, doctors and nurses, with Medicare fraud schemes in seven cities involving $429 million in false billings. At a news conference Thursday, Attorney General Eric Holder said the case reveals an alarming trend in criminal efforts to steal billions of taxpayer dollars for personal gain. Holder called the action one of the largest such law enforcement efforts of its kind. Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said her agency used new authority under the Obama administration's health care law to stop future payments to many of the health care providers suspected of fraud. The law enforcement effort focused on fraudulent Medicare schemes in Baton Rouge, La.; Brooklyn, N.Y.; Chicago; Dallas; Houston; Los Angeles and Miami.
Fed discusses rate issues
WASHINGTON — The Federal Reserve wants to find a clearer way to signal to the public when it might start raising interest rates. The Fed has told investors that it plans to keep short-term rates low for at least another three years. But it appears to be leaning toward setting a more specific target, according to minutes from the Fed's last policy meeting. Most members agreed at the Sept. 12-13 meeting that linking a future rate increase to a level of unemployment or some other numeric target could be useful. The minutes show members have yet to agree on what the economic target should be. The discussion signals another option the Fed might pursue if its latest stimulus efforts don't boost the still-weak economy.
WASHINGTON — The number of Americans seeking unemployment benefits rose to a seasonally adjusted 367,000, a level consistent with modest hiring. Weekly applications rose last week by 4,000 from the previous week's level of 363,000, the Labor Department said Thursday. The previous week was revised higher from an initial reading of 359,000. The four-week average, a less volatile measure, was unchanged at 375,000. Unemployment benefit applications are a measure of the pace of layoffs. When they consistently fall below 375,000, it typically indicates that hiring is strong enough to lower the unemployment rate.
Factory orders fall
WASHINGTON — Orders to U.S. factories fell in August from July, mostly because of a sharp drop in volatile aircraft orders. The decline offset an increase in orders that reflect corporate investment plans. The Commerce Department said Thursday that factory orders dropped 5.2 percent in August, the biggest decline in more than three years. The loss was largely because demand for commercial aircraft plunged 102 percent. That pulled down orders for long-lasting manufactured goods by 13.2 percent. In one positive sign, orders for business equipment and software, often considered a proxy for investment plans, rose 1.1 percent, after two steep declines. Still, orders for steel, electrical equipment, and industrial machinery all fell.
Google widens job cuts
NEW YORK — Google is broadening job cuts from its Motorola Mobility unit outside the U.S. and will take $390 million in severance costs and other charges related to the layoffs. The Motorola restructuring is now expected to “include additional geographic regions outside of the U.S.,” Google said Thursday in a filing by Google with the Securities and Exchange Commission, but the online search leader is not adding to the 4,000 layoffs announced in late August. The company said in August that it was planning to close or consolidate about one-third of Motorola's 90 locations. It said then that two-thirds of the job cuts, about 20 percent of Motorola's staff and 7 percent of Google's overall work force, would take place outside the U.S. Google Inc. bought Motorola Mobility, which makes cellphones and cable set-top boxes, in late May for $12.4 billion. It was its largest acquisition ever, broadening the company's business from its roots in Internet search and other online services to manufacturing equipment.
Starbucks tests items
NEW YORK — Starbucks Corp. is testing a variety of baked goods in nine San Francisco stores, with plans to eventually expand distribution nationally. Among the items being tested: a whole wheat spinach croissant; a ham and cheese croissant; and a tomato, cheese and herb croissant. Many of the items are served warmed, unlike its current lineup of baked goods. There's no time frame for a national rollout.
From Wire Reports