I started out trying to prove the point that HR 3200, the “Health Care” bill currently before the House of Representatives, made end-of-life (“advance care”) counseling mandatory. What I discovered was something a bit more sinister and which demands an immediate answer. The point is that, despite what some in Congress would tell you, it is important to read bills you’re voting on. Here’s what I found.
The relevant section in the bill is 1233. It seeks to modify section 1861 of the Social Security Act to change the definition of “medical and other health services.” The changes begin on page 424:
5 SEC. 1233. ADVANCE CARE PLANNING CONSULTATION.
6 (a) MEDICARE.—
7 (1) IN GENERAL.—Section 1861 of the Social
8 Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1395x) is amended—
9 (A) in subsection (s)(2)—
10 (i) by striking ‘‘and’’ at the end of
11 subparagraph (DD);
12 (ii) by adding ‘‘and’’ at the end of
13 subparagraph (EE); and
14 (iii) by adding at the end the fol15
lowing new subparagraph:
But wait! If you find the relevant paragraphs in the currently text of the SSA, they read:
(DD) items and services furnished under an intensive cardiac rehabilitation program (as defined in subsection (eee)(4));
(EE) kidney disease education services (as defined in subsection (ggg));
So the problem is, the language in HR 32oo doesn’t match the text in Title XVIII of the Social Security Act. Something doesn’t add up. I’m going to need some additional fact-checking but I also need your help. Please get the word out that we need an answer on a question as important as this. Please also remind your Senators and Representatives that if they read bills before they tried to push them on us, this kind of misunderstanding wouldn’t happen.
Added: link to SSA: http://www.ssa.gov/OP_Home/ssact/title18/1861.htm#act-1861-mm-1
link to HR 3200