MILITARY PERSONNEL FINANCIAL SERVICES PROTECTION ACT -- (Extensions of Remarks - September 21, 2006)
SPEECH OF HON. RON PAUL OF TEXAS
IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 20, 2006
* Mr. PAUL. Mr. Speaker, as a supporter of ensuring our service personnel have access to a wide range of financial products I am concerned with the provision of the Military Personnel Financial Services Protection Act, S. 418, enacting a complete prohibition on so-called contractual or periodic payment mutual funds, which, according to testimony received by the House Committee on Financial Services, are sold voluntarily with full disclosure to officers at individual meetings held off base.
* This is the first time in recent memory that this committee has ever proposed banning a product that is fully permissible under current law and that--again according to testimony received by the committee--is used by thousands of senior military officials to facilitate their financial security. Specifically, we were told that the clients of First Command Financial Planning, the Texas-based company principally involved in this market, has invested $734.4 million aggregate in these accounts in 2004. The sales charge on that amount was about $44 million, or about six percent. What is the basis for outlawing a product that over half a million individuals, including half the flag officers on active duty at the time, had freely chosen? Do we really believe that individuals charged with the deployment of billions of dollars of military equipment, are not sophisticated enough to make their own financial decisions?
* When the Congress last looked at this product in 1970, we recognized periodic payment mutual funds are a valuable means to help encourage savings by people who do not have large amounts of discretionary income. I have seen no evidence in the record indicating that the judgment then was incorrect. In fact, testimony received by the Financial Services Committee indicates that these periodic payment mutual funds are working for those military members choosing to utilize them.
* Before voting on S. 418, Congress should consider whether it is in the best interests of our armed services to substitute our judgment for theirs by banning a financial product that the armed services deem well-suited for their financial security.
* Mr. Speaker, I am pleased to introduce the Enhanced Options for Rural Health Care Act. This legislation allows critical access hospitals to use beds designated for critical access use, but currently not being used for that purpose, for assisted living services financed by private payments.
* This bill will help improve the financial status of small rural hospitals and extend the health care options available to people living in rural areas without increasing federal expenditures. Currently, fear that rural hospitals will lose critical access status if beds designated for critical access are used for another purpose is causing rural hospitals to allow beds not needed for a critical access purpose to remain unused. This deprives rural hospitals of a much-needed revenue stream and deprives residents of rural areas of access to needed health care services.
* My colleagues may be interested to know that the idea for this bill comes from Marcella Henke, an administrator of Jackson County Hospital, a critical access hospital in my congressional district. Ms. Henke conceived of this idea as a way to meet the increasing demand for assisted living services in rural areas and provide hospitals with a profitable way to use beds not being used for critical access purposes. I urge my colleagues to embrace this practical way of strengthening rural health care without increasing federal expenditures by cosponsoring the Enhanced Options for Rural Health Care Act.