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Congress Should Treat HR 2998 As They Do Telemarketing
by Jan Ireland
30 September 2003Bill Young

American servicemen and women injured in Iraq should not be billed for the food they eat while recovering in the hospital.

Congressman Bill Young (R-FL) informed his House colleagues early in September about certain Americans receiving bills for food they ate while they were in the hospital.  That’s not unusual on the surface, since we all expect a charge for hospital care.  What makes it unusual, and unacceptable, is that the people receiving the bills are American servicemen and women.  And they are leaving the hospital after being wounded in Iraq.

Staff Sergeant William Murwin, a Marine Corps reservist, was driving a HUMVEE in Iraq, when a ten year old boy tossed a grenade into his vehicle.  Sergeant Murwin lost part of his foot.  He was in the hospital for 26 days.  He has recovered, and has now returned to his job as a sheriff’s deputy in Nevada.  Imagine his chagrin, however, when along comes a bill in the mail for $210.60.  He has been charged for the food he ate while he recovered in the hospital.  I bet at least fifty million Americans are upset upon hearing that. 

The Federal Trade Commission’s national Do Not Call registry was a smash hit from the moment it was announced.  More than 700,000 signed up the first day.  The phrase ‘burning up the phone lines’ took on new meaning.  Americans could put their home phone numbers on that national registry, and expect a cessation of the telemarketing calls that often seemed to come at dinnertime -- as if the originators hoped homeowners would be tired enough to be persuaded.  I bet at least fifty million Americans were happy about that list.   

Their happiness took a detour when a federal judge voided the list, saying the FTC did not have the authority to initiate it.  Congress moved as fast as five-time Tour de France winner Lance Armstrong on his bicycle.  They met, wrote, voted, and passed legislation to give the FTC the authority it needed.  And this happened virtually overnight.  When fifty million Americans are clear about something, politicians listen.  The fifty million Americans were very happy about that. 

And now another federal judge, this one in Denver, has stopped the list again.  No doubt fifty million Americans will be upset when they hear this new twist.

Congressman Young and his wife, Beverly, paid the bill for Sergeant Murwin.  But other bills are following other American servicemen and women, and will continue to do so until Congress acts. 

HR 2998, introduced by Representative Young, could be passed overnight if Congress really wanted to do it.  We’ve seen what Congress can do when they know fifty million Americans want action.

I bet if fifty million Americans called their congressmen, and told them to support that bill that stops charging wounded American soldiers for the food they eat in the hospital -- Congress would treat HR 2998 as they do…well, telemarketing.  I bet it would pass overnight.

And I bet 50 million Americans would be very happy with their politicians if it did.

Jan Ireland is a masters level counselor/teacher, who has turned to writing. She says that obfuscation in the media prompts her to search for the

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