Ilovebenefits’s Blog

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Health Care: Pork Equals Inferior Care

Editor’s note: this item from Greg Scandlen:

One comment I would make about this article is that it is profound more for what it says than doesn’t say. If Congress is singling out a single institution to be exempt from reimbursement limits, it is suggesting that all others will be subject to reimbursement limits. In this case it is about those that serve the disease called cancer. Therefore it seems to follow that less money will be going into the treatment of cancer. Last time I looked it was in the top two or three killers of people in the United States (at least).




Max Pappas from FreedomWorks forwarded Section 1145 of H.R. 3200,  “TREATMENT OF CERTAIN CANCER HOSPITALS.” He said, “it seems to give the Secretary the power to put price controls on specialty cancer centers,” and was wondering if he was reading it right.

Like everything in this bill, it is impossible to know for sure, but it certainly seems like it. At a minimum, it appears to give HHS the power to reduce payment to any facility whose charges are above average, and it appears to be independent of any case mix adjustment where facilities with more difficult cases get paid at a higher rate.

Particularly telling are three additional paragraphs that seem to carve-out particular hospitals in certain Congressional districts from being subject to this. It is impossible to know what facilities those might be or who is benefiting. Here is an example of one:

“A hospital that was recognized as a comprehensive cancer center or clinical cancer research center by the National Cancer Institute of the National Institutes of Health as of April 20, 1983, that is located in a State which, as of December 19, 1989, was not operating a demonstration project under section 1814(b), that applied and was denied, on or before December 31, 1990, for classification as a hospital involved extensively in treatment for or research on cancer under this clause (as in effect on the day before the date of the enactment of this subclause), that as of the date of the enactment of this subclause, is licensed for less than 50 acute care beds, and that demonstrates for the 4-year period ending on December 31, 1996, that at least 50 percent of its total discharges have a principal finding of neoplastic disease, as defined in subparagraph (E).”

Any time legislation is this specific it is a hint that it is aimed at only one favored party, but Congress doesn’t want you to know about it. There is certainly only one facility in the entire United States that meets all these criteria. And that one facility almost certainly has a CEO who is the brother-in-law or campaign contributor of the Member of Congress who wrote the paragraph. While every other treatment facility will have its payments slashed, this one is exempted.

This is one paragraph in a 1,000-page bill. The rest of the bill is chock full of similar provisions, all aimed at rewarding friends and punishing opponents.

There is nothing new about this. Two years ago, Robert Pear wrote an article in the New York Times about similar shenanigans in the SCHIP bill, but he was able to identify specific hospitals and the Congressmen who were carrying their water. For instance, he reported that one hospital in Green Bay, Wisconsin was “deemed to be located in Chicago” to secure higher Medicare payments. The provision was inserted by Rep. Bart Stupack (D-MI) because the facility also serves Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. And Rep. Maurice Hinchey (D-NY) determined that two hospitals in Kingston, New York will be paid at the rate for hospitals in New York City.

But there has never been a health care bill as big or as corrupt as this one. It takes an awful lot of pages to reward all your campaign contributors. No wonder it is so long.

New York Times


August 13, 2009 - Posted by | Federal Government, healthcare | ,


  1. H.R. 3200 is about as corrupt as it gets. It stinks of special interests which is why it is up to us as Americans to READ THE BILL and engage.

    Congress and the Senate have been less than honest and forthcoming when it comes to the particulars of H.R. 3200.

    Comment by bydesign001 | August 14, 2009 | Reply

  2. Freedomworks is run by Dick Armey, former congressman. He should know about corruption and favoring special interests when it comes to writing bills. But Freedomworks is also at the center of the town hall screamers and lobbying against change – so I don’t give this much credibility.

    Though it is interesting to think about special interests that might be favored by such important legislation. I’m sure the lobbyists are right on top of this. This is how our government works.

    From 1995 – 2007, Republicans controlled the writing of bills, like the Part D drug plan and Medicare Advantage guidelines to pump billions of dollars into private insurance companies. Now it’s the Democrts’ turn.

    That’s the way democracy works. Those that win get to write the rules.

    Comment by azagent | August 14, 2009 | Reply

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