News and Analysis

GW researchers analyzing emergency room data found that people did not go to the emergency room more often with Medicaid expansion, which many healthcare professionals had expected, United Press International reported Wednesday.

The number of E.R. visits increased by less than three percent and uninsured visits decreased by about 30 percent, according to the research. The decrease in uninsured visits will increase the amount of money hospitals make.

Healthcare professionals had expected that more people would go to the E.R. under a Medicaid expansion because it made it easier to see a doctor through the E.R.,  and because people with healthcare tend to see doctors more than those without, United Press International reported.

Jesse Pines, a professor of emergency medicine in the Milken Institute School of Public Health, said in a release that the results of the study “challenge” doctors’ and researchers’ notions about healthcare use.

“With no increase in emergency department visit rates, our research is good news for government programs aimed at expanding health insurance, and in particular Medicaid coverage,” Pines said. “We challenge the conventional wisdom that people go to the emergency department because they do or don’t have health insurance. People use the emergency department when they’re sick or injured. That’s why we stay open.”

The research used data from three companies to examine E.R. data at 478 hospitals in 2014, the first year that Medicaid was expanded through the Affordable Care Act.

Randy Pilgrim, the chief medical officer at Schumacher Clinical Partners, a multi-specialty physician management group that provided data for the study, told United Press International that the long-term impact of the Affordable Care Act on emergency care economics is still uncertain.

“Payments for Medicaid visits are higher than for the uninsured. But the long term impact of the ACA on the overall economics of emergency care is still an open question, especially with other provisions that affect reimbursement, including the future effect of new payment models,” Pilgrim said.

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Carrie Ross, the

Carrie Ross, the assistant director for sexual assault prevention and response, said an update to GW’s sexual assault resource website makes it easier for students to use.

GW’s website for reporting sexual violence on campus got a user-friendly update last week after students advocated for a new site for more than a year.

Haven, the University website that brings together on-and-off campus resources for students, faculty and staff to respond to sexual abuse, was updated Aug. 2.

Carrie Ross, the assistant director for sexual assault prevention and response, said in an email that her office worked with the office of creative services to create a new Haven site. She hoped to make the the site more visually appealing, better translated for mobile device use and more streamlined, she said.

“We wanted users to be able to quickly access information about their options – whether related to seeking care after an assault, accessing help through the university or community, or getting involved in prevention efforts,” Ross said.

Features including options for reporting “Title IX-related incidents,” workshop requests for student groups or University departments and registration for new students’ required sexual assault prevention training were all updated, Ross said.

The updated website’s homepage now offers links to emergency and non-emergency contact information. Contact information is also listed at the top of every page within the site. The old website listed news about the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and sexual assault policy on the homepage.

Ross said that officials will be promoting Haven on social media and at new student trainings in the fall.

The Committee on Sexual Assault Prevention and Response, which was created last year and is made up of students and faculty members, created a subcommittee to work on updating the site. Ross said in January that student leaders from Students Against Sexual Assault gave input on how to make the website user-friendly.

Student leaders advocated for an update to the site for more than a year, arguing that the old website was composed of technical information that could overwhelm sexual assault survivors.

Haven was launched in 2013 to explain the University’s new sexual assault policies and available resources for students.

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Tuesday, Aug. 9, 2016 12:10 p.m.

GW cuts down to two health care plans

Robert Harrington, the chair of the Faculty Senate's

Robert Harrington, the chair of the Faculty Senate’s appointment, salary and promotion committee, said in a release the Benefits Advisory Committee opposed changes to employees’ healthcare plans for next year. Hatchet file photo

Updated: Aug. 10, 2016 at 12:28 p.m.

GW will offer only two health benefits options for next year, according to a University release.

Beginning in October, GW employees will choose between two new health benefit plans – a single preferred provider organization plan and a health savings plan. Faculty in the Benefits Advisory Committee, the standing group of faculty and staff charged with providing feedback to the University Human Resources and Benefits Administration, were not in favor of the changes to plans, according to the release.

The single preferred provider organization plan will combine two current options to offer employees lower premium costs and others additional coverage benefits, the release stated. The savings option will increase the opportunity for employees to receive GW-funded HSA match money, but without increases to monthly premiums.

After receiving input from the committee, officials decided that a single PPO plan was “in the best interest of the 7,200-active plan participants,” according to the release.

John Kosky, the associate vice president for talent management in University Human Resources, said in the release that the changes will help employees make informed decisions regarding their health benefits health benefits based on their individual and family needs.

“The Basic and the Medium plans were very comparable in terms of value, but the premiums for the Medium plan were substantially higher than the Basic plan. Merging the PPO plans corrects this difference,” Kosky said.

The committee had dissenting views about how to address the disparity in the pricing of the two plans this year. While some members of the Benefits Advisory Committee supported consolidating the two plans, the majority of faculty members on the committee did not, according to the release. Some faculty members said they did not have enough time to review the plans to make a decision.

Robert Harrington, the chair of the Faculty Senate’s appointment, salary and promotion committee, said administrators presented the new plans to the committee on July 20 – the same day the group voted on the plans.

“Furthermore, Staff Association members had no time to study, consult its constituents about and provide HR with its views,” Harrington said in the release.

The Faculty Senate unanimously passed a resolution in April for the University to cover about 75 percent of health insurance costs. The University announced last year that it would increase benefits at a fixed rate of 3 percent per year.

Officials plan to offer benefits fairs, forums and one-on-one advising sessions during the open enrollment period starting Oct. 3. The University will also launch an online tool to assist employees on the medical plans learn about and manage their pharmacy and medical care.

Changes to the to the preferred provider plan will include coverage of bariatric surgery and infertility treatments, commonly used medications for gender reassignment and optional access to medical centers specializing in oncology and infertility. Employee dental coverage will see an increase in their Aetna High and Low PPO plans by $1 to $3 per month.

Next year in-network co-pays for virtual visits will be reduced from $25 to $10 under the new plan and retirees more than 65 years old will move to a private Medicare exchange, according to the release.

The Hatchet incorrectly reported that in-network co-pay amounts would be reduced. In-network co-pays for virtual visits will be reduced. We regret this error. 

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GW avoids $39 million in property taxes to Washington D.C. each year because its nonprofit status makes it exempt from those taxes, according to a Washington Post analysis.

Universities in D.C. were exempt from $111 million total in D.C. property taxes last year, with GW leading the pack, followed by Howard University with about $26 million, according to the Post. Local leaders in the city have “routinely raised concerns” about these exemptions, pushing for some compensation from nonprofits, but no actions have been taken, the Post reported.

In the fall, there are expected to be congressional hearings about these tax exemptions with lawmakers asking 56 private universities with endowments more than $1 billion “for information about the use of that money, the size of their tax-exempt property holdings and whether they make any payments in lieu of taxes (PILOTs) to their host cities,” according to the Post.

GW and Georgetown are the only D.C. area universities with endowments greater than $1 billion and neither pays PILOTs because D.C. does not require it, the Post reported.

Natwar M. Gandhi, a former chief financial officer for D.C., told the Post that D.C. “has profound needs and has been financially responsible, but that does not negate the need for imposing a PILOT. It is a question of fairness, a question of equity.”

At least 218 municipalities in 28 states collect payments instead of taxes from nonprofit organizations including Boston, which received about $28 million in PILOT contributions last year from nonprofits like Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, according to the Post.

But not all people agree that PILOT contributions are necessary. President Emeritus Stephen Joel Trachtenberg told the Post that universities “generate talent for the city, research, scholars, scholarship and money.”

He also sent Gandhi, the former CFO, an note in 2005 that read “Bastard!” after Gandhi spoke out against the tax exemptions in a Washingtonian magazine article – a story Trachtenberg confirmed to the Post.

“Students spend. Faculty earn and pay taxes. Parents visit. We buy goods and services. [The financial] impact is positive and profound,” Trachtenberg added.

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Thursday, Aug. 4, 2016 11:58 a.m.

No arrests made in Shenkman Hall assault

A non-GW affiliated victim reported being struck and robbed in the Shenkman Hall Food Court Wednesday evening, according to a GW alert email sent at 9:15 p.m. Wednesday.

A Metropolitan Police Department report filed at 8:26 pm that night stated that the victim was assaulted as he exited the lower level bathroom. The suspect punched him in the face and took his phone, fleeing the area. The victim walked to GW hospital to seek treatment, according to the report.

The GW alert described the suspect as an “African-American male, approximately 6′ tall, black puffy hair and wearing a gray t-shirt, black pants and white shoes.”

No arrests had been made in conjunction with the incident as of Thursday morning, according to a MPD spokesperson.

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Rachel Brown, the assistant provost for University Career Services said the Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund received $200,000 in donations last fiscal year. Hatchet file photo.

Updated: Aug. 4, 2016 at 10:15 a.m.

Over $200,000 in new donations from alumni, parents and trustees will fund students’ unpaid internships this year.

The Knowledge in Action Career Internship Fund surpassed its $100,000 fundraising goal last fiscal year, officials said. The total amount raised includes a $100,000 matching gift from Trustee Scott Amey, his wife Debbie Amey and Trustee Steven Ross.

Rachel Brown, the assistant provost for University Career Services, said in an emailed statement that some of the money raised in the past fiscal year has been awarded to students already and the rest will be awarded in the coming year.

“We are so pleased to have support from so many in our GW community, because we have seen just how important these awards are to our students and their professional development,” Brown said.

Since the fund was launched in 2013, more than 265 students have received awards, Brown said. The grants, which reach up to $3,000, have totaled $450,000 over the past three years.

University officials have said the fund was publicized to more donors over the past few years as part of a three-year career services overhaul. The fund benefited from Mark Shenkman’s $5 million gift, which supported the career services center and renamed Shenkman Hall.

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Wednesday, Aug. 3, 2016 11:56 a.m.

WMATA officer arrested for aiding ISIS

A Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority officer was arrested Wednesday for providing material support to ISIS, CNN reported Wednesday.

Nicholas Young was arrested by the FBI “following more than a year of investigation,” according to the CNN. This is the first case of a U.S. police officer being arrested and charged with aiding ISIS.

Officials have said there is “no evidence of any threat to the D.C. Metro system,” according to CNN.

Young, 36, of Fairfax Va., was arrested Wednesday morning at the Metropolitan Police Headquarters in D.C. “and his employment was terminated,” according to The Washington Post.

“Young, at the request of an undercover federal agent, sent codes for mobile messaging cards that Young believed would be used by Islamic State fighters overseas to communicate, according to an indictment filed in federal court in Alexandria, Va.,” The Post reported.

Metro Transit Police Chief Ron Pavlik said in a statement reported by The Post that “the investigation into Young began years ago when his office went to the FBI with concerns.” Young has been monitored by the FBI since 2010.

Young is set to appear in court later Wednesday.

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A new study by GW researchers has found that in-person interviews for jobs created better impressions than interviews conducted through technology, according to a University press release.

The study focused on “the effects of technology-mediated interviews,” and was authored by Nikki Blacksmith, a doctoral candidate at GW’s department of organizational sciences and communication, as well as Jon Willford, another doctoral student in the department and Tara Behrend, an associate professor of industrial/organizational psychology, according to the release.

“We live in a world where we increasingly rely on technology, but this study reminds us that personal interactions should never be underestimated,” Blacksmith said in the release.

Blacksmith added that this study shows that organizations that are not consistent with the type of interview across all candidates “could result in fairness issues and even possibly a lawsuit.”

To find these results, the researchers “examined 12 articles published from 2000-2007 that included interviewer and interviewee ratings,” or assessments of how the companies and candidates performed during the interview. All of the articles included both in-person and technology-based interviews, according to the release.

The researchers then found that technology-based interviews resulted in lower ratings than in-person one, with video having the lowest ratings, followed by phone or computer interviews, according to the release.

The study also found, contrary to the assumption that as people became more accustomed to technology, the technology-based interviews would have more favorable ratings, that “the opposite occurred, and the ratings became more negative for more recent studies,” according to the release.

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Some classes will start outside of the Flagg Building on 17th Street as renovations continue. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Some classes will start outside of the Flagg Building on 17th Street as renovations continue. Hatchet file photo by Sam Hardgrove | Assistant Photo Editor

Sculpture classes at the Corcoran School of the Arts and Design will begin the school year outside the school’s flagship building after planned summer renovations have taken longer than anticipated, officials said in a release Monday.

For at least the first three weeks of the school year, the classes, originally scheduled to meet in the Flagg Building on 17th Street, will be held in Smith Hall and use the metal fabrication shop in the Science and Engineering Hall, the school’s director Sanjit Sethi said in a release.

The more-than-a-century-old building, which housed both the school and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, began the first phase of an estimated $47.5 multi-year renovation project this summer to repair the building’s outdated infrastructure and modernize its art facilities. Some of the summer projects are not expected to be completed by the start of the academic year, meaning access will initially be restricted to certain parts of the building, according to the release.

“As you can imagine, large-scale renovations rarely go as planned and working on a 120-year-old building that is on the National Register of Historic Places adds complexity to this project,” he said in the release. “With this in mind, there have been unanticipated delays as to what we had hoped to accomplish by the start of the fall 2016 semester.”

Construction crews are working 60 hour-a-week shifts to finish the work as quickly as possible, Sethi said in the release.

Officials said the renovations this summer were focused on bringing the building up to modern safety codes and increase its handicap access. Work took place primarily in the sub-basement, basement and first floor. Here’s what crews have worked on this summer, according to the release:

  • Workers expanded a painting and drawing studio in the basement and constructed two new classrooms that will hold museum studies classes and other seminars. A new wheel studio is also under construction.
  • Staircases to the sub-basement were replaced and widened, and a new elevator was installed.
  • Crews removed building materials, furniture and equipment to install updated plumbing, electrical and mechanical equipment in the sub-basement. This school year, Corcoran students can submit project proposals that use the materials workers cleared out, the release stated.
  • Darkrooms are receiving upgraded sinks, equipment and ventilation to ensure they don’t pose a health risk.
  • Bathrooms on the first floor and in the basement are being expanded.
  • New wheelchairs ramps were installed on the first floor to allow for access throughout the building including the Hammer Auditorium and the Atrium.
  • New sprinkler and fire systems were added to all metal and wood shops.
  • Last month, the historic oak and bronze-covered doors to the building’s 17th street entrance were removed and sent to a specialty metal shop in Alabama to be refurbished, as part of a project funded by American Express.

GW officials committed to renovating the historic Corcoran building when the University absorbed the school in 2014. The work is expected to last until 2018.

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Monday, Aug. 1, 2016 5:02 p.m.

Fundraising campaign tops $875 million

Updated: Aug. 2, 2016 at 1:40 p.m.

Officials have raised more than $875 million for the $1 billion campaign as of the end of July, according to a University release.

This new total is about a 4.8 percent increase since February of this year. About $770 million had been raised by this time last fiscal year.

University officials said that student aid will be the primary focus of the campaign during fiscal year 2017, which will coincide with University President Steven Knapp’s final year at GW.

“Philanthropic support for student aid will be a priority in the coming year as the university seeks to further President Steven Knapp’s legacy of increasing access to a GW education and improving success rates of all students once enrolled,” the release stated.

Sixty thousand individual donors have given to campaign so far, with more than a third of them donating to support students.

Major donations since February include $2.19 million from the Avenir Foundation to create an endowment for the Textile Museum and roughly $87,000 from the annual Senior Class Gift.

Aristide Collins, the vice president for development and alumni relations, said that fundraising during the next fiscal year will prioritize improving student experiences.

“In the final year of President Knapp’s tenure, we are encouraging our alumni, parents and friends to make a philanthropic commitment to support GW students,” Collins said in the release. “Student scholarship and fellowship support through our Power & Promise initiative is a key priority, but athletics, student services and career services also are essential elements of our overall focus on enhancing the student experience.”

Officials still plan to reach their goal of $1 billion by June 2018, according to the release. The campaign, which publicly launched in June 2014, has raised more than $500 million over the past two years.

This post has been updated to reflect the following correction:
Due to an editing error, the Hatchet incorrectly stated when the campaign will end. Officials plan to reach $1 billion by June 2018, not June 2017. We regret this error.

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