A letter from Congress and the President to Medicare health care recipients

Let me begin by wishing all of you a very Merry Christmas on behalf of President Obama, and your Congress. As you know, through my tireless efforts, we were able to bribe enough senators, enabling the Senate to pass its version of health care reform on Christmas Eve.

All of us here in Washington hoped you would be so busy with your children and grandchildren you wouldn’t notice some of the provisions that will impact your benefits under Obamacare.  Unfortunately for us, Dr. Scott Gottleib – in one of those pesky opinion pieces in the Wall Street Journal – has chosen to release details before we’ve had a chance to tell you about the wonderful reforms.

As you know, under current law, if Medicare declines to cover you for a particular procedure, you have the right to appeal Medicare’s decision. We found this provision particularly offensive and costly, so, we’ve created a new “Medicare Commission”, and …

Unlike existing Medicare coverage laws, patients won’t have the ability to appeal any of the decisions of this new Medicare Commission.

We know, over time, you will come to enjoy this streamlined process.

Next, we decided too many doctors were referring seniors to specialists. This was particularly troubling to us because we were certain you were growing tired of being referred to physicians who specialized in treating your condition. What we’ve done to help is penalize any doctor whose “referred” patients account for the top 10 percent of Medicare’s costs.

Under Section 3003 of the Senate version of Obamacare, these top 10 percent of doctors will see their overall Medicare reimbursement reduced by 5 percent. Because of this provision, you will now be able to receive less medical care than you previously did by limiting the time you spend seeing specialists. This will free up more of your time to do the things you enjoy in life.

Finally, under section 3403, we’ve created an Independent Medicare Advisory Board who will have absolute authority over the amount of money spent on Medicare each year.

If Congress believes Medicare has overreached, it has to pass a separate law to explicitly block the agency’s newly acquired powers. These provisions are deliberately designed to leverage Congress’s inability to act in a timely fashion.

This will, of course, save us time as any such law will need a 3/5 vote of Congress, and, we all know that will never happen. And, it will probably save your time because cuts in Medicare spending will result in fewer doctors accepting Medicare, and thus fewer doctors for you to visit.

All in all, we believe this legislation is a win, win for everyone. But, if you fail to agree, the bottom line is that you will not be able to do anything about.


Senator Harry Reid (D. Nev.)

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The Sound Off Sister was an Assistant United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, and special trial attorney for the Department of Justice, Criminal Division; a partner in the Florida law firm of Shutts & Bowen, and an adjunct professor at the University of Miami, School of Law. The Sound Off Sister offers frequent commentary concerning legislation making its way through Congress, including the health reform legislation passed in early 2010.


  1. sammy22 on December 27, 2009 at 1:32 pm

    Gee, I did not get that letter. Perhaps not enough postage or some other screwup by some agency w/ connections to the Federal Government. The real problem is not who/how the health care is being delivered (we all know it's first rate), IT IS HOW IT GETS PAID!!

  2. donh on December 27, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    I hold the Catholic Church ENTIRELY to blame for this abomination. It is the revolt of the Ted Kennedy Wing of the Church . Liberal Theologians  want to shepphard illegal aliens into the main stream of America, furthur the communist revolution popular in Hispanic countries to the south via the American Welfare system , and bury the old debates about abortion and euthenasia behind a friendly language of Euphamisms. This unholy rebellion lead by Catholic Democrat politicians and priests violates everything Christ stood for with regard to helping the most vulnerable and healing the sick.

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