Green Room

Questions for your health care town hall meeting

posted at 1:27 pm on August 4, 2009 by

There are plenty of copies of H.R. 3200 now for Congress to read. If you are going to a townhall with your Congressperson or Senator (which means you don’t live in MN-7, since Rep. Peterson has decided he doesn’t want to meet with you), you should read and bring specific questions about this bill. I intend to offer one set a day at my blog.

Today’s comes from Secs. 141 and 142. In these sections we read (edited for readability):

There is hereby established, as an independent agency in the executive branch of the Government, a Health Choices Administration (in this division referred to as the ‘Administration’).

The Administration shall be headed by a Health Choices Commissioner (in this division referred to as the ‘Commissioner’) who shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate.

(1) QUALIFIED PLAN STANDARDS- The establishment of qualified health benefits plan standards under this title, including the enforcement of such standards in coordination with State insurance regulators and the Secretaries of Labor and the Treasury.

(2) HEALTH INSURANCE EXCHANGE- The establishment and operation of a Health Insurance Exchange under subtitle A of title II.

(3) INDIVIDUAL AFFORDABILITY CREDITS- The administration of individual affordability credits under subtitle C of title II, including determination of eligibility for such credits.

(4) ADDITIONAL FUNCTIONS- Such additional functions as may be specified in this division.

Questions for your congressperson or senator:

  1. Will this commissioner have the power to terminate one’s insurance plan and place one in a government plan if he or she decides the private plan does not qualify? Dr. Bernadette Healy says yes.
  2. She also says that assignment is “random”. Indeed it is; see Sec. 205. Does your Congressperson support random assignment of people to plans that the Health Choices Commissioner says do qualify?
  3. What will be the relationship between the Health Choices Commissioner and the IRS as regards the enforcement of the 2.5% tax on individuals who do not have coverage, as defined in Sec. 401?
  4. Will the Commissioner hire his or her own staff to administer “random compliance audits”?  What will be their powers?
  5. If I disagree with the determination of the Commissioner, to whom may I appeal? What are the checks and balances on the Commissioner’s power?
  6. We heard recently of a massive Medicare fraud case that lead to many arrests.  How would this new Health Choices Administration assure us that fraud would not explode in these government exchanges?

If you go to these townhalls, take these questions on index cards and distribute to your neighbors and friends. I’ll bring more as I get them.

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