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Plain Writing Act of 2010

Last month President Obama signed into law the Plain Writing Act of 2010.The stated purpose of the law is

"...to improve the effectiveness and accountability of Federal agencies to the public by promoting clear Government communication that the public can understand and use."

"Plain writing" is defined as

"...writing that the intended audience can readily understand and use because that writing is clear, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain writing."

The Act requires federal agencies to use plain writing in any document it produces which provides information about obtaining federal benefits or filing taxes, or if it explains how to comply with federal requirements.

PlainLanguage.gov provides several examples of government regulations, manuals, handbooks and reports that were re-written following plain language principles. For example, here is a change in a Medicare Fraud Letter:

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.

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.

Find additional information about this new law on the Thomas website.


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