Hospital BillingsI'm writing in reference to the...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

November 25, 1993

Hospital Billings

I'm writing in reference to the "Questions and Answers" piece regarding a reader's frustration with hospital billings (Nov. 5), in which it's stated that a proposed uniform bill will eliminate the "duplication and wasted administrative work of the present system."

I wonder if President Clinton's task force on health care was informed that over a decade ago, a form (called the UB82) was created just for this purpose.

Now it seems a new name (UB92) is going to magically provide the ease of administration for which we have all been waiting.

In fact, the reality is that a standard piece of paper, or any other medium for that matter, will not solve the health care billing system problems.

The real problem which exists lies in the fact that there are different payers who require a variety of information to process a claim for payment.

Some require extensive demographic information, some require diagnostic codes, others require detailed billing with all supplies listed, while others will pay a summary of services. The list goes on and on.

Each payer, furthermore, has a coding structure and format required to process claims.

Contrary to the public's belief, most claims are submitted via magnetic tape or direct data transmission through terminals or telephone modems. Our computer systems must be programmed to provide the medium with appropriate formats to be acceptable to the third-party payers.

In summary, the reason for administrative cost is not the lack of a standard piece of paper, but rather the differing coding requirements, format requirements and information needs of the third-party payers.

As a final note, I felt it would be interesting to say that the state of Maryland's report, "The Year in Review -- Fiscal Year 1991," shows total medical assistance payments to be $1,480,741,191, of which $28,225,365, or less than 2 percent, is for administration.

The president's task force on health reform has claimed a possible savings of up to 25 percent in administration. Since the state share is merely 2 percent, can the balance of the 25 percent be the hospital administrative departments? I really doubt it.

Samuel R. Seccurro

Baltimore

The writer is the vice president of finance for Deaton Specialty Hospital and Home.

Frank Sinatra Fan

J. D. Considine's Nov. 2 report on Frank Sinatra was outrageous

Mr. Considine has tried to make these performances into a contest. His criticism of a 78-year-old voice is like a drama critic putting down a Kate Hepburn acting effort because she looks older and her voice shakes, or putting down Mickey Mantle's performance in an old-timers baseball exhibition game with the current Yankees standing on the sidelines jeering his ineptitude.

Witness the phrases "meeting on his own turf," "one-upping Sinatra," "Sinatra doesn't suspect the degree Bono is making fun of him."

If Mr. Considine had done his homework, he would have known that all of these performers greatly admire and were delighted to be chosen to work with Frank Sinatra who is already a legend.

I'm looking forward to Duets 2.

Robert L. Brooks

Wilmington, Del.

National Guard

An editorial from your paper appeared in the Springdale, Ark., Morning News of Nov. 1, headlined, "Demands on the Guard."

Many numbers are cited as to military strength on peace-keeping duties throughout the world. The Sun can be commended on disclosing plans to use the Guard in this role.

However, the writer goes on to state some erroneous historical facts. He states that the Guard was denied a combat role in the Persian Gulf war.

The 142nd Field Artillery Brigade of the Arkansas National Guard saw combat every day of the ground war.

They fired prep missions, crossed the berm and fired support missions for the First Infantry Division, U.S. Army, and also support missions for the British Armored Division. They were 140 miles from Baghdad when the cease-fire was declared.

In World War I, nearly half of all combat was performed by Guard units, fleshed out by volunteers.

It did not take "28 months to gear up the Guard" in World War II. Some Guard units were in deployment before Pearl Harbor, and the Maywood Tank Battalion of the Illinois National Guard was virtually wiped out in the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines in early 1942.

In Korea, the 45th Division, Oklahoma National Guard, and the 40th Division, California National Guard, both performed commendably.

Also the same artillery unit of the Arkansas National Guard that was in the Persian Gulf war was in combat in Korea for 17 months.

As you can see, the idea of the Minuteman is not a chimera, as you aver, but an established fact.

In the memory and honor of all our sons who died in foreign wars while on active duty with the Guard, I feel it is my obligation to point out where you were a little uninformed.

Jerry Watkins

Lowell, Ark.

Questions of Mercy and Justice

The past weeks have been the most grueling that many of us have ever experienced.

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