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Illinois Rep Melissa Bean No Help to This Constituent

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Congresswoman Melissa Bean (D-IL, Eighth District) needs to be accountable for herself as well as her congressional staff.From Congresswoman Melissa Bean’s (D-IL., 8th District) Campaign Web Site:As part of her ongoing efforts to increase accountability and transparency in congress, Congresswoman Melissa Bean announced a congressional Accountability Initiative at a downtown Chicago press conference Thursday May 28 [2008].

I do not know for whom Congresswoman Bean was doing a favor when she hired Nicholas Jordan to be her Director of Constituent Services, but she was not doing one for herself, and she was certainly not doing one for her constituents. (Jordan worked in the office of Senator Richard Durbin prior to working for Bean.)

In February 2005, on behalf of my stepfather and now deceased mother, I provided Jordan with scores of written testimony and annotated documents, which showed how a Medicare managed care organization had circumvented numerous
Medicare regulations with the blessings of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The fact intensive information that I gave to him was not complicated, but there was a lot of it, and I offered to meet with him if he needed assistance in understanding its significance. Jordan was not enthusiastic about meeting with me, and he did not have an understanding of what a Congressional caseworker may do on behalf of a constituent.

My knowledge of the guidelines for Congressional caseworkers comes from the US House Ethics Committee, as well as other US government publications. This information is readily available via the Internet.

The following statements are from the
US House Ethics Manual.

Members and staff of the House often assist constituents in their dealings with administrative agencies by acting as facilitators or "ombudsmen". Members may properly communicate with agencies on behalf of constituents:

* to request information or status reports;
* to urge prompt consideration of a matter based on the merits of the case;
* to arrange for appointments;* to express judgment on a matter (subject to ex parte communication rules); and/or* to ask for reconsideration, based on law and regulation, of an administrative decision.

The failure of a regulatory agency to enforce its regulations obviously fits into the category of what issues “Members” may inquire about. However, Jordan inexplicably told me that he could not even express judgment about the matter to me, let alone HHS/CMS.

One of the specific violations that I reported to Jordan was that CMS and the Medicare managed care provider had repeatedly denied my stepfather and mother, in a variety of ways, their right to make Appeals, expedited (fast) and otherwise (i.e. due process).

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Initially, Jordan was unable to grasp that the issue was not about a judicial matter that I wanted Bean to intervene in. He had trouble understanding that there was no judicial matter because we had been denied access to the regulatory judicial process!

I had told Jordan that I would not turn down any offer of assistance in resolving the matter. However, I also told him that my goal was to convey the wrongdoing that I had encountered to Bean via her staff. I had hoped that somebody in her office would have taken the time to look at the material that I provided to them, and understood what the HMO and CMS had done that was wrong. I thought that this was important, because Bean was going to be voting on Medicare related bills. The Appeals process is the most important safeguard that has been established to protect beneficiaries from having their healthcare compromised by the bottom line of the Medicare managed care insurer and its provider. I had hoped that Bean and her staff would be interested in learning about how CMS was allowing the regulations regarding the Appeals process to be violated. That hope turned out to be wishful thinking.

Jordan eventually mailed a "letter of inquiry” regarding the issue, but:

• He mailed it to the wrong place, AdminiStar Federal, a company that has a contract with the Federal government to oversee the policies of beneficiaries enrolled directly in Medicare

• He misidentified the issue.

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• He failed to provide us with the "answers" that he claimed to have received.

Jordan had told me that he was going to send a letter to AdminiStar Federal. I then had advised Jordan that instead he should direct any correspondence to Matthew Brown, who at that time was the CMS Congressional Liaison in Washington. I explained to him that my stepfather and my mother were Medicare + Choice [now Medicare Advantage] beneficiaries, and CMS itself oversees those policies. Jordan chose to ignore me. Jordan misidentified the issue as being about the quality of “health care” that had been delivered. It is difficult to understand how Jordan made this error, because I had repeatedly told him that the issue was that Federal regulations had been violated. Bean is not a doctor, and I did not ask her office to become involved in a medical issue.

[By definition, any issues involving the CMS Appeals process will have origins in medical procedures, but I stated in writing to Jordan that I was not asking him to address that issue.]

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John Olsen knows virtually nothing about almost everything. He has a photo blog. He likes to perform on stage, preferably before a voluntary audience. In 1997,he became an activist about health care issues after he began overseeing his (more...)

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Illinois Rep Melissa Bean No Help to This Constituent

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Former CMS manager enabled Medicare managed care provider to dodge regulations.