A couple of months ago we had the election for our new county mayor. We have already received an increase in our property tax and our wheel tax, but this is not my story today. In July I posted a story titled the "The 1200 dollar Fishhook and Dishonest Politicians". If you didn't read the original post you need to go HERE right now and read it or the rest of this won't make much sense to you.
Good, now that you're back, a few days ago I got a letter in the mail from this very same politician. He was very upset with me about this blog post. Well as you know I'm not going to let a single bit of hate mail go to waste so here is his letter and a couple of documents. What follows is my reply to him along with a few comments for my blog readers. Here goes:
LETTER FROM ANGRY POLITICIAN
Please find enclosed a copy of your blog of July 15, 2010. I recently received this rant by mail from an anonymous source. Having served in government for several years, I have learned that criticizing politicians is a pastime for some. Granted in many cases it is very deserving but in some cases it comes from sheer ignorance and is a mere means to vent frustrations by “badmouthing politicians” rather than kicking the dog.
Although you state that I was charged ZERO for the services provided by you and the hospital, I will not be as rude and crude as you were and call you a liar, but I must say you have skillfully demonstrated your ignorance.
To address your absurd accusation that I lied about the amount I was charged by you and the hospital, I have enclosed the Explanation of Benefits notice provided by Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Please click on the images for hi-res versions. I have included some educational explanations in the images - GROUCH
This clearly indicates to me that Decatur County Hospital charges to me were $256.00 and your charges including the ER services were $927.00; that totals $1183.00 or $17.00 short of $1200.00 Pardon my exaggeration but that’s pretty close to $1200.00
I have paid for health insurance for half a century and Medicare since its inception, as a result much of my healthcare needs are covered. What you implied was free to me was grossly inaccurate—I have paid for my health care through 50 years of insurance premiums and Medicare taxes and premiums.
For a doctor whose purpose is to care for people, I find it astounding that you are spewing such hatred. After reading your blog I’m convinced you have an acute need for a psychiatric analysis. I wish you and the hospital the very best, but from my vantage point, the future looks dim for you as well as the hospital.
And now folks, my entertaining reply. This is long so if you have something else to do, go do it and come back later, but it's GOOD, I promise:
I appreciate your most thoughtful letter. I have to wonder why you bothered to send it. The election was almost 2 months ago. You lost. It is time to move on.
I also wonder why this person anonymously sent you a screen capture of my blog page. Again this is over something well in the past. I suppose the person that sent it must have way to much time on their hands and only sent it to create ill will and discontent, which apparently it has done at least for you.
First let me say that if I had wanted to be rude, I would have identified you on my blog page and then called you some names. I did not. I left it up to the readers to figure out the culprit. I guess the person that sent you the screen capture was able to figure it out.
I also had to almost laugh out loud at the EOB you sent me when the figure “Amount you owe provider” was .00! If you knew anything about health care and hospitals which evidently you don’t, you would know that the amount doctors and hospitals “charge” and the amount they are actually paid by insurance companies, including Medicare are always substantially different. The health providers always “settle” for a discounted or negotiated amount which is generally drastically less than any initial charges. I am sure that you thought your precious Medicare paid the hospital the “Medicare benefits” amount which would total $1124.31, however, you probably failed to notice the little disclaimer at the bottom of the EOB which discusses “Medicare allowed amount”. Nowhere on the EOB is there an amount that Medicare actually paid the hospital. The amount would be so small it would be disgraceful and the government intentionally hides it. The problem is that the average person on the street would not necessarily know this and if I boasted that I was charged $1200 for a fishhook removal, that person might believe that I actually had to pay this. If you’re going to be the mayor of a county, it is up to you to educate yourself about how EOB’s work and exactly what they mean, especially if you are going to launch darts at the hospital. It appears you chose not to bother with this little detail.
The figures I quoted in the blog post came from the hospital administrator. If you would like to argue any inaccuracies, I am sure she would be delighted to meet with you.
By the way, please don’t whine to me about all the money you’ve paid into Medicare over the years. I am in the same boat as you and in my opinion, Medicare and Social Security are a couple of the biggest socialist rip-off schemes ever foisted upon a populace. Health care providers have been held hostage now for many years by Medicare with the government dictating what they can and cannot be paid.
You of course missed the whole point of my blog post which was not the amount you were charged for your fishhook removal but rather that you chose to stab the hospital in the back in front of a would be constituent. The fishhook charge is irrelevant. Your childish behavior as a public servant is disgraceful.
There is no doubt that the hospital is and has for some time been in financial trouble. This is not something that just happened, but is due to years and years of incompetence, neglect, and abuse by the people that were supposed to be running the show.
Did you know that when the new administration took over, old bills and invoices were slowly uncovered, found stuffed away in drawers and cubby holes? The amount of these bills were in the high 6 figure amount approaching nearly a million dollars! Did you know this?
Did you know that the current administration has slowly paid down this debt to about half of what it was, while still on a shoestring budget and still barely making payroll? Did you know this?
Did you know that insurance claim forms were stuffed away in drawers and cubby holes and never filed with insurance companies? These were claims totaling about ¾ of a million dollars. They have since been submitted. Did you know this?
Did you know that the accounts receivable days were over 150 when the new administration took over? The old administration made little effort to collect money for the services it provided. The AR days are now less than 50. Did you know this?
Did you know that when the new administration took over the charge master for the hospital had not been updated since some time in the early to mid 1990’s? We were charging early 1990’s prices for services rendered in late 2007 and beyond. The charge master has since been revised. Did you know this?
Did you know that several years ago, the hospital had the opportunity to become classified as a “critical access hospital”? This would have meant a restructuring of how we are paid and would have gone a long way toward alleviating the financial crunch we are in now. Unfortunately. the old administration used incorrect data and determined that it would not be in our best interest to go critical access. Now I am told that the rules have changed and it is too late for us to go critical access. The administrator told me the other day that this is a door that has been closed to us, possibly forever. Did you know this?
Did you know that the hospital is continuously under assault by Medicare in the form of the thing called RAC audits? They come back at a later date and try to take money away from us on claims already filed in good faith and already paid to us by the government. One of the latest travesties includes the government trying to take $11,000 dollars from us because the doctor used the word “removed” instead of “excised”! Did you know this? Why are you not on the phone complaining to your congresswoman and senators as I have already done?
Did you know that all of our ambulances are falling apart? The hospital cannot afford to buy more trucks. Calls to the county for help have repeatedly fallen on deaf ears. Did you know that on more than one occasion we have been down to a single functioning ambulance for the whole county? Did you know this?
Decatur County, not the hospital, is tasked by the state of Tennessee with providing 911 service (including the ambulance service) for the county. Yet the burden for this has been laid solely on the back of the hospital, a burden it can ill afford. Did you know this?
Did you know that if you have a heart attack or a stroke that your chances of survival are significantly greater at DCGH than they would be at another average hospital. In spite of all the financial difficulties previously mentioned, through the efforts of the doctors, nursing, EMS, and administration, we have become an accredited chest pain and stroke center and are affiliated with St. Thomas Hospital in Nashville. This required a lot of hard work and enormous effort. Did you know this?
Did you know that for a hospital of our size we are number one in the nation in our progress toward the computerized physician order entry program? This means we are on the cutting edge of technology. We are well on our way to having a completely paperless medical record system which saves time and money and also reduces errors and improves quality and hopefully will expedite reimbursement. Did you know this?
Did you know that we have a radiology department that certainly surpasses any other hospital of similar size offering state of the art CT scanning with teleradiology support, MRI, mammography, and ultrasound? Recently we have received a large grant to implement the PACS (picture archiving and communication system) which will streamline our radiology department and eliminate the need for old hardcopy films and enhance support of the staff doctors by the radiologist. All of these achievements required much thought and much hard work, and all was accomplished on a shoestring budget. Did you know this?
Our lab at DCGH is second to none, performing tests quickly and accurately on a scale generally found at much larger hospitals. Did you know this?
Did you know any of these things about the hospital? I doubt it. You could have known if you had been interested, but never do I recall seeing you at a single hospital board meeting. All of these issues have been discussed in open forum at the board meetings. I can’t really pick on you individually here as I recall seeing none of the mayoral candidates at the any of the board meetings either.
Instead of taking the time to educate yourself and find out the facts about the hospital, you chose instead to slap one of the “good old boys” on the back, have a good laugh, and stab the hospital in the heart. You sir, should be ashamed of yourself. If the hospital should cease to exist it will be a tragedy for the county. You accused me of being ignorant. Perhaps you would like to take a moment of silence at this time to contemplate your position on ignorance.
I know of quite a few people walking around today who would not be here were it not for the hospital. We have quite a large elderly population, Many of them are unable or unwilling to travel long distances for their health needs. Without the hospital, many of them simply will not receive care. The hospital is one of the largest employers in the county. If the hospital goes away, so do those jobs.
You would think that a politician running for mayor would take time to find out all the facts about a facility as vital as our hospital and would celebrate our successes and pledge to do everything possible to make us financially sound, but, NO! I guess you would rather collect your facts from the barber shop and the local restaurant and whine about your $1200 fishhook and the fact that you’ve paid Medicare tax all your life!
It would have been so refreshing if you had said, “The hospital has done a lot of good things but they are having financial trouble. If I am elected I promise to do everything humanly possible to assure that the hospital becomes and remains financially sound.” Such a statement would have been so welcomed and so meaningful. It might have even gotten you elected.
It seems that hospital bashing has become a pastime with many in Decatur County. The problem is that the bashers have NONE of the facts and I NEVER see any of the bashers at any of the board meetings. You’d think the politicians would be above this, but I guess that is too much to hope for.
Your fishhook comment did not go unnoticed at the hospital. Hard working employees were shaking their heads. A couple asked me why you would say such a thing. None of this was due to my blog post by the way. The hospital was buzzing with the news long before that. The board members heard about it too. They didn’t say much, but they were all looking at the floor in disgust and shaking their heads.
I am encouraged to see that you are also an expert in mental health. It seems as if you take umbrage with the fact that I am a blogger. Evidently you don’t like my blog very much It could be that it pains you that I am a private citizen expressing and exercising my first amendment rights. That’s right, I am just a private citizen. I can’t raise anyone’s taxes, I can’t send anyone’s sons or daughters off to war, and I can’t make a bunch of stupid laws that infringe upon someone else’s freedom and liberty. I can only do what the first amendment grants, speak my mind.
I guess establishment politicians as yourself, who don’t think much of the Constitution anyway, would rather the people just sit down and shut up while you and others like you in all levels of government do as they damned well please, spend money we don’t have, trash the Constitution, and ruin this great country. In your eyes, we don’t know anything anyway, do we? For too long politicians of your caliber have enjoyed a population of voters who simply did not pay attention and most of those who did pay attention were too afraid to say anything. I don’t happen to fall into either category and sadly for you and your ilk, people across America are starting to wake up. If that makes me in “need for a psychiatric analysis” then I assure you I AM A RAVING LUNATIC!
The days of “politics as usual” where you could just say anything and do anything and not be challenged are quickly coming to a close. Frankly I cannot understand why you bothered to run for mayor. If your concern for the hospital is any indication, it is apparent you could care less about the county as a whole. Indeed the only thing you cared about was GETTING ELECTED. I am glad you lost. I am sick and tired of politicians who think they are entitled to the position and act like bullies when they finally get there, throwing their weight around and running roughshod over the voters.
Being elected to office does not and should not come with a throne and a crown. You work for the people! YOU ARE A SERVANT OF THE PEOPLE! Not the other way around!
I am hopeful that the elections this November will be a turning point for the direction of America and that politicians like you will be relegated to the dustbin of history for good!
Have a great day,
Thomas Hamilton MD.
PS. I would never dream of kicking my dog.
My friends, here is a classic example of what is wrong with politicians today. He thought he could just go around spouting a bunch of garbage and not be called to account for his statements. When I called him out, he was highly offended. Like most of the establishment politicians today, when someone disagrees with them and tells the truth, that person is labeled as crazy or hateful. I am surprised he did not call me a Nazi or a racist.
Now he has lost the election. He is hateful and bitter and looking for someone to blame. He thought he was entitled to the position and just cannot believe he was not elected. I can think of a few on the national scene that remind me of him in the likes of Lisa Murkowski, Charlie Crist, and Mike Castle. The PEOPLE rejected them and now they are bitter and angry and just can't give it up. Obviously this attitude sifts down even to the local level.
If you took the time to read all this, I appreciate it and I'd like to hear your comments.
PS. To the person out there that likes to anonymously send my blog pages to other people, GROW A PAIR! Identify yourself, don't be a spineless wimp!