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Correcting the Record on ObamaCare's Access to Individuals' Bank Accounts

By August 20, 2009

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Language in the original House ObamaCare bill clearly gives the federal government access to bank accounts of 'individuals'

Although this has been covered previously here at US Conservative Politics & Perspectives, the mainstream press still seems confused regarding the obscure language of the "Administrative Simplification" section of the original ObamaCare legislation, making it necessary to revisit the bill, refute the media's false conclusions and re-assert the claims made by this bill's opponents regarding some of its more overreaching aspects.

Let's hope it's confusion, anyway; because if not, that means at least two major news networks -- both well-known for their liberal bias -- are acting as outright shills for President Barack Obama's administration.

There is no doubt that certain arguments against the legislation are unfounded. For example, the so-called "death panels" to which former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin referred recently are actually amendments to Title XVII of the Medicare portion of the Social Security Act, outlining reimbursement provisions for services associated with end-of-life-counseling.

Nevertheless, the language is unclear enough to create fear and loathing that is legitimate. Recalling that this is falling under the category of "Definition of Services" and "Medical and Other Services" in Medicare, it raises the questioned about why this language was included at all. There's really only one reason that makes sense. Consults every five years are going to be required (mandatory) if patients want to receive Medicare reimbursement for associated services, and when end-of-life decisions become imminent, more consultations will be required if reimbursements are to be made regarding end-of-life treatment. It may not mean "death panels," but the language is obscure enough to raise the question about the participatory nature of the consults. The bottom line: if they're not mandatory, why are these consults included in the bill at all?

Back to the bank account stuff.

This article at CNN.com uses the news network's so-called "truth-squad" to dispel the notion that the House bill provides the federal government with real-time access to the bank accounts of "individuals." Their verdict (False. The provision cited doesn't affect individuals, but companies involved in medical billing.),is reckless in its misinformation.

For the sake of clarity, it is important to note that this part of the bill updates Title XI of the Social Security Act, and once again cite the page number, section and subsection of the ObamaCare plan that spells this out. It is called "Administrative Simplification" (Section 163) and Subsection 1173A of this measure, "Standardize Electronic Transactions" has a provision (a)(2)(B) that ensures that this new governmental power:

"be authoritative, permitting no additions or constraints for electronic transactions ..." (C) "be comprehensive, efficient and robust, requiring minimal augmentation by paper transactions or clarification by further communications;" and, finally, (D) enable the real-time (or near real-time) determination of an individual’s financial responsibility at the point of service and, to the extent possible, prior to service, including whether the individual is eligible for a specific service with a specific physician at a specific facility, which may include utilization of a machine-readable health plan beneficiary identification card;" ... (E) "enable, where feasible, near real-time adjudication of claims ..." (Emphasis added)

According to President Barack Obama, there are several versions of the bill now in existence. If this is indeed the case, (so far, I've only been able to find and read one) it is possible that this language has been clarified to strike out all references to the individual. As it stands, however, the language in the current version of the House bill clearly indicates that the authority of the government pertains to "individuals" not providers, physicians or insurers.

In fact, this is so clearly defined in the bill, that on page 64, the language for "operating rules" (which regulate the "using and processing [of] transactions") is changed in a related section to add the phrase "on behalf of an individual." Combine the two, and you have the government paying for services on behalf of an individual from the individual's account.

The most disturbing aspect of this part of the bill, as I've mentioned before is the lack of language outlining any sort of authorization on the part of the individual.

In my previous post (linked to above), I mentioned that the Democrats and Obama would scoff off any notion of the federal government dipping into individual's accounts without permission. This is indeed what has happened. If the bill had some sort of measure in it that explicitly describes the authorization process, perhaps conservatives wouldn't feel quite so paranoid about what this legislation has in store for them.

Obama and Congressional Democrats would be wise to scrap this version of the health insurance reform plan and start over from scratch, this time working incrementally with conservative Republicans on some basic reforms that include changes in tort law and the promotion of competition across the health care industry as the foundations for change.

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Comments

August 21, 2009 at 3:38 am
(1) benson bear says:

“If the bill had some sort of measure in it that explicitly describes the authorization process, perhaps conservatives wouldn’t feel quite so paranoid about what this legislation has in store for them.”

You gotta be pretty paranoid to see what you say in this section.

It doesn’t say anything about bank accounts, it doesn’t say anything about taking money from anyone.

It just says that at the point of service one should be able to determine if an individual is entitled to the service. That’s a good idea, it requires consulting all of the various plans or entitlements he may have and it would be bad if a person was entitled but was denied because of red-tape snafu. That seems to be all this is about. Where is there any suggestion that money is taken real-time from a bank account? Remember these are insurance plans. Determining eligibility is determining if a patient has a plan that covers a thing, it is not determining the size of his bank account — the insurance company is paying, not him — and a fortiori it is not taking money out of his bank account.

August 21, 2009 at 10:10 am
(2) usconservatives says:

Benson Bear,

To make it easy for you, here is where it says the federal government gets “real-time” access to bank accounts. If it’s too hard for you to understand, just read the sections I’ve highlighted in bold and italics:

SEC. 163. ADMINISTRATIVE SIMPLIFICATION.
(a) STANDARDIZING ELECTRONIC ADMINISTRATIVE
TRANSACTIONS.”
(1) IN GENERAL.”Part C of title XI of the Social
Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320d et seq.) is
amended by inserting after section 1173 the
following new section:
SEC. 1173A. STANDARDIZE ELECTRONIC ADMINISTRATIVE
TRANSACTIONS.
(a) STANDARDS FOR FINANCIAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE
TRANSACTIONS.
(1) IN GENERAL. The Secretary shall adopt
and regularly update standards consistent with the
goals described in paragraph (2).
(2) GOALS FOR FINANCIAL AND ADMINISTRATIVE
TRANSACTIONS.”The goals for standards
under paragraph (1) are that such standards shall
(A) be unique with no conflicting or redundant standards;
(B) be authoritative, permitting no additions
or constraints for electronic transactions,
including companion guides;

58
(C) be comprehensive, efficient and robust,
requiring minimal augmentation by paper
transactions or clarification by further communications;
(D) enable the real-time (or near real
time
) determination of an individual’s financial
responsibility
at the point of service and, to the
extent possible, prior to service, including
whether the individual is eligible for a specific
service with a specific physician at a specific facility,
which may include utilization of a machine-readable
health plan beneficiary identification card;
(E) enable, where feasible, near real-time
adjudication of claims
;
(F) provide for timely acknowledgment,
response, and status reporting applicable to any
electronic transaction deemed appropriate by
the Secretary;
(G) describe all data elements (such as
reason and remark codes) in unambiguous
terms, not permit optional fields, require that
data elements be either required or conditioned
upon set values in other fields, and prohibit
additional conditions; and

59
(H) harmonize all common data elements
across administrative and clinical transaction
standards.
(3) TIME FOR ADOPTION. Not later than 2
years after the date of implementation of the X12
Version 5010 transaction standards implemented
under this part, the Secretary shall adopt standards
under this section.
(4) REQUIREMENTS FOR SPECIFIC STANDARDS.
The standards under this section shall be
developed, adopted and enforced so as to
(A) clarify, refine, complete, and expand,
as needed, the standards required under section
1173;
(B) require paper versions of standardized
transactions to comply with the same
standards as to data content such that a fully
compliant, equivalent electronic transaction can
be populated from the data from a paper
version;
(C) enable electronic funds transfers, in
order to allow automated reconciliation with the
related health care payment and remittance advice
;

August 21, 2009 at 9:45 am
(3) RealTime53 says:

Justin –

She doesn’t put a cost on the practice of defensive medicine, but here’s an interesting take on tort reform:

http://washingtonindependent.com/55535/tort-reform-unlikely-to-cut-health-care-costs

Some states have put a cap on damages, most notably Texas. Anecdotally, malpractice insurance premiums have not gone down in Texas.

“Obama and Congressional Democrats would be wise to scrap this version of the health insurance reform plan and start over from scratch”

I have to go with Krauthammer on this. Something is going to get passed. If it doesn’t, there will be no incremental new bill. Nobody is going to touch health care again for a very long time.

August 21, 2009 at 10:38 am
(4) usconservatives says:

Interesting stuff, RealTime. Thanks for forwarding the link.

I don’t believe that any one thing will serve as a panacea for the rising costs of health care. It’s the same way with immigration reform. Simply creating a guest worker program, for example, won’t resolve the issue with illegal immigrants already living in the US. It will help, though, as long as other measures are used in conjunction with it.

While I think tort reform would go a long way toward solving the problem, it won’t do much without robust competition in the pharmaceutical, insurance and medical industries. It’s like trying to shave with just the shaving cream and not the razor.

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