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CRF Blog » Blog Archive » Regulations We Can All Understand

CRF Blog

Regulations We Can All Understand

by Damon Huss

In October 2010, President Obama signed the Plain Writing Act, which requires that federal agencies use “clear Government communication that the public can understand and use.” There is even PlainLanguage.gov, a web site to explain the law—in plain terms, of course—and to give tips to federal agencies, as well as everyone, on how to write clearly.

The Associated Press has created a web page with examples of changes from jargon-laden federal communications into readable prose. Here’s a small taste of what the Plain Writing Act has done:

BEFORE

Investigators at the contractor will review the facts in your case and decide the most appropriate course of action. The first step taken with most Medicare health care providers is to reeducate them about Medicare regulations and policies. If the practice continues, the contractor may conduct special audits of the providers medical records. Often, the contractor recovers overpayments to health care providers this way. If there is sufficient evidence to show that the provider is consistently violating Medicare policies, the contractor will document the violations and ask the Office of the Inspector General to prosecute the case. This can lead to expulsion from the Medicare program, civil monetary penalties, and imprisonment.

AFTER

We will take two steps to look at this matter: We will find out if it was an error or fraud. We will let you know the result.

So, whenever you hear President Obama say “Let me be clear” in a speech, he apparently really means it. (See this Washington Post piece on the president’s favorite catchphrase.)