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

THE BALTIMORE SUN

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.

Reliving the horrendous events of March 19, listening to the graphic testimony and watching the impassive defendant, hoping for some sign of remorse from him has worn on us, the family and congregation of Sister MaryAnn Glinka.

This letter will never explicate all that is in my heart and the hearts of many who were affected by the life and death of Sister MaryAnn Glinka. Similarly, it is impossible to tell you of the battle that has raged within me regarding the life and death of Melvin Jones.

In my anger at him for taking away a life, I wanted to do him harm. I wanted to hurt him as he has hurt so many of us because he took what was not his.

In his greed and selfishness, he violated the preciousness of our home. And yet, with time, I have been able to move from wanting his "life for a life" to "hating the sin." I vacillate on forgiving the sinner; consequently, while I concur with the verdict of the jury, I hope and pray that life without parole means life without parole without any opportunity for weekend passes or as rewards for good behavior.

I believe in mercy but I also subscribe to justice.

I would like to thank Archbishop Keeler and the bishops of the archdiocese for their support throughout this difficult time. While I am very much aware of the National Catholic Conference of Bishops' statement denouncing the death penalty, it has never been suggested to me by any official of the church to stand up and give support of this position.

Instead, my congregation and I have received only words of comfort and support in our struggle to accept this terrible reality of our lives. More so, our religious leaders have encouraged us to take time to allow for the healing hand of God.

I am also grateful to prosecutors Stuart Simms, Timothy Doory and Emmanuel Brown for their care and concern for us as together we walked this painful journey.

There are countless others who must be thanked. Some know who they are but there are many whose strength behind the scenes gave us the courage to continue and to them, again, we say thank you.

Baltimore has been home to the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore since 1881. We were committed then to serving the poor, the needy, the unlearned, the marginal.

Melvin Jones may have taken control of our existence for a few short months, but we wish it to be known that while we are a little weary and perhaps a bit weakened, we have a firm faith in a God who constantly renews our strength and teaches us what is ours to do.

With this resolve, we recommit ourselves to serve the "uncharmed" citizens of Baltimore regardless of race, creed or colors as we have done throughout the years.

As the jury made its way out of the courtroom after the verdict, one juror held back and turned to us in the gallery. He said, "I am sorry for your loss."

Touched and wordless then but recovered today we say to him, "We're sorry for your loss as well."

Sister MaryAnn Glinka rests in peace.

Sr. Ritamary Tan, OSF

Baltimore

The writer is superior general of the Franciscan Sisters of Baltimore.

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