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The Art of Commenting to Government Agencies By Gerald Rogan, MD

Comments or letters, which may be published in a future issue, should be sent to the author’s email or to e.LetterSSV Medicine@gmail. com.

IF YOU HAPPEN TO FEEL disenfranchised, or that our government does not listen to your thoughtful comments, you may benefit from my experience with the process of commenting to our governmental agencies. I was a recipient of comments whilst serving the Medicare Program as a Medicare B Carrier Medical Director. Many physicians and others would comment about our proposed Medicare local coverage decisions. Our policy team read every comment. We posted a summary of each or group of similar comments and responded to each. In some cases, commenters shared relevant insights we had not considered. Some comments changed the policy and some did not. Based on this experience, here are my recommendations to improve your art of commenting: Determine whether you are commenting to a proposed piece of legislation or a proposed rule (aka regulation). Legislation is proposed to the public by the legislature, not by an agency of the executive branch of government. Once a law is enacted, it is interpreted by the government agency which administers it. For example, Congress enacted the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, aka Obamacare) which affects Medicare and Medicaid. PPACA is a law, not a regulation. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), under Health and Human Services, administers portions of the PPACA that are relevant to Medicare and Medicaid. One can sign up with CMS to receive proposed rules on a variety of topics. The California Department of Health Care Services and the

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Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine

California Department of Industrial Relations issue regulations for Medi-Cal and Workers Compensation, respectively. You may comment on most of them. 1. Do not comment on whether you agree or disagree with the underlying legislation. That ship has left the harbor. Address concerns about legislation to your legislator, not to the law’s administrator. Contact the California Medical Association for guidance. 2. Be sure your comment arrives prior to the end date of the comment period. If it arrives late, again the ship has left the harbor. You have disenfranchised yourself. 3. Address your comment to a proposed rule to the person or department listed to receive the comments. 4. State the name of the rule to which you are commenting. 5. Summarize or quote the portion of the rule to which you are commenting. 6. Be sure you understand what the rule proposes. If you are not sure, do more research to find out. If you misunderstand the proposal, your comment is worthless. 7. State whether you support or do not support the proposal. 8. If you support the proposal, stating same may be sufficient. If you are concerned that others may comment against the proposal, you may wish to explain your reasoning. 9. If you do not support the proposal, provide an alternative solution, if you

Profile for Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society

2015-Jul/Aug - SSV Medicine  

Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine is the official journal of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society (SSVMS) and promotes the history,...

2015-Jul/Aug - SSV Medicine  

Sierra Sacramento Valley Medicine is the official journal of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society (SSVMS) and promotes the history,...