Letter: Argument against health care bill filled with errors
In the Jan. 13 edition of the Gazette-Journal, Jonnie Adams asks the question: "Do you ever wonder what has happened to this country?" Luckily for us all, Adams answers that question with her own letter.
When commenting on the admittedly flawed health care bill, Adams makes numerous false (and obviously uninformed) claims. According to Adams, "the government will set all doctors’ fees and will impose a prohibition on hospital expansion." First, the government already establishes a physician fee schedule for Medicare and the new bill contains two categories of physician services with different fee growth rates depending on the GDP. In regards to hospital expansion, this is only disallowed for rural physician-owned hospitals which previously received a waiver from the general self referral prohibition.
In her next claim taken from the internet, Adams attempts to scare everyone about the government’s "real-time access to individuals’ bank accounts" and its "authority to make electronic fund transfers from those accounts." This section of the health care bill does not mention "individual bank accounts" or require electronic payments but instead focuses on simplifying the electronic payment process for health services. (Similar processes are used for payments for credit cards, utilities, etc. Does Adams complain about those as well?) This section does state that the Secretary of Health and Human Services will establish standards to "enable electronic funds transfers" for automated reconciliation. But enable does not mean mandatory.
Adams continues her false claims by stating that health care for union members, union retirees and community organizations will now be subsidized by the government. The truth is that the health care bill will establish a new re-insurance plan for retirees, spouses and dependents covered by ANY employer plan, not just labor unions or non-profit groups. The re-insurance plan will reduce premiums, co-pays and deductibles for the retirees and the payments "shall not be used to reduce the costs of an employer."
Adams also attempts to mislead everyone by claiming that "members of Congress are exempt from this plan." However, a provision from Sen. Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) states that "the only health plans that the federal government may make available to members of Congress and congressional staff … shall be health plans that are (I) created under this act … or (II) offered through an exchange established under this act."
By the way, Ms. Adams is also incorrect in the assertion that members of Congress are also exempt from Social Security. This is directly from the Social Security Administration’s website: "All members of Congress, no matter how long they have been in office, have been paying into the Social Security system since January 1984."
Harrow D. Hill
Port Haywood, Va.