Why read the final health care bill?

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As noted below, the Baucus health care bill was finally released in legislative language (soon to be available on Open Congress) — finally. The bill has jumped from 262 pages in plain language to 1,502 page in legislative language. Ezra Klein does a good job of explaining why the bill is so long:

…writing laws is not like writing blog posts, or newspaper articles: It requires an archaic, clunky vernacular that spends a lot of time explaining how one piece of text amends another piece of text, and expends a lot of words clarifying the most technical matters at the most granular level. Legal language requires more words than plain English, just as Chinese uses more characters. When people complain that legislation is slightly longer than a very long book, they’re saying something about their understanding of the difference between legal language and plain English, not about the law in question.

This is perfectly true and important to note. Bills that cover a giant issue like health care reform are bound to really long. This is still no excuse for Congress to not read or review the contents of the legislation (not that Klein is making this argument).

The Finance Committee’s original, plain language bill version did a decent job covering the major parts of the legislation. I don’t think any reasonable person is going to be surprised by the insurance mandates or Medicare waste reduction or, if it’s included, a version of the public option. These pieces have been debated and read over and over again. What should be most concerning are the provisions that no one is talking about, the enticements inserted for specific states or specific industries that fly under the radar.

Bloomberg reports on some of these enticements in a report today. Increased Medicaid funding for Sen. Harry Reid’s Nevada, extra money for Medicare Advantage recipients in Sen. Bill Nelson’s Florida and Sen. Ron Wyden’s Oregon, breaks for unions and high risk workers (miners). These are just a few of the enticements inserted into the bill in obscure legislative jargon. We aren’t sure what other nuggets could be out there.

The final bill should be made available for at least 72 hours prior to consideration so that these provisions can be found out and determined if they are harmful or not. There have been too many instances of bills passing in the past with small provisions slipped in that have a large effect.

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  • no, we do not need a constitutional convention. not with these bozos, they almost got their con con awhile back. what we need to do is succeed, draw the line at the mississippi river. and we will call it a republic again.

  • Sam Stone

    Let’s consider the NIH and the kabillions of tax payer dollars that are flushed down the tubes for “research”. Every year millions of dollars are doled out–more than any other industrialized nation, yet our ‘momentum in medical research’ is flat. Nobody is held accountable for the waste and fraud. Sitting on the NIH Board of Scientific Advisers is a physician, Dr Timothy Kinsella, who has a rap sheet dating back decades. Those offenses include Medicaid, Medicare and Ins Fraud, sexually assaulting a patient, over-radiating patients 3-4 times the required treatment for personal financial gain, falsifying hundreds of patient records, misuse of federal grant funds, unethical treatment of patients, and so on. Most recently (Nov 2009) Dr Kinsella blatantly lied (it was video taped and is on the NIH website)) during the NIH BSA meeting—an International forum. Documents from government and university investigations, court records, etc, are posted on a website: http://www.acancerdoctor.com. Also posted are the puzzling emails and correspondence from Dr Neiderhuber, the NCI director, (and other NIH members) with their responses to Dr Kinsella’s past and current illegal activities. Furthermore, in Sept 2009 the State of Ohio Dept of Taxation filed suit against Dr Kinsella for tax fraud–while Dr Kinsella continues to receive taxpayer funds as a federal employee making decisions for American’s health care. And this is the face of America’s health care!

  • Maguire

    The rejection of the public option by the Senate is very sad. There is a very large demographic of people that are being overlooked right now, and a public option would benefit them.
    Eva Mor author of (Making the Golden Years Golden) responded beautifully to a key part of the problem:
    “The administration of the existing health delivery system is bloated with waste and unnecessary cost. If information was shared by all providers of health services and all insurers by using computerized systems to store all medical records, it would cut costs and reduce errors that would save and improve lives.” http://www.ourblook.com/component/option,com_sectionex/Itemid,200076/id,8/view,category/#catid107
    To regulate costs in the medical industry and update the existing Information and communication technologies would certainly cut a large portion of spending, which has featured as primary complaint in this debate all along.
    I hope that when the two bills come together to be voted on the public option may make its way back into the bill.

  • I heard there is a new level of health care professionals being placed into the health care reform bill to enable a wider spectrum of alternative health care providers and/or prevention health care workers…is this true?

  • Helena

    It is irresponsible not to read something you must vote on in my (your constituent’s) name. Your vote is not just yours. It represents all those who voted for you and even those who voted for the other guy or gal. Please be brave enough to stand up and say–I need time to read the entire bill and time to understand the bill’s full ramifications.
    Let your colleagues know that you expect them too,to read each bill that is brought before them before they vote.

    How can anyone think this is not the right thing to do. Read the bill.

  • Charles Truitt

    You are in congress because we sent you there. You work for us, if you don’t at least read the bills being voted on, how can you make any arguement that you are doing our work?

    READ THE BILL!!!!!

  • Bruce Purdy

    Common Sense dictates that any population subject to the laws written by it’s elected governing body have the right to know in advance what that body intends to make law.

  • william taylor

    irrespective of how it reads, and we should certaintly do that
    we have yet to see how it get paid for ?
    could we not at least simplify the pro’s and cons in 10 pages of less in common understandable language ?

  • Please read EVERY page!!

  • ann smith

    I agree that any bill of real importance such as the health care one should be posted on the internet for 72 hours at least.

  • First of all, the high minded statement’s that was given, as source of dialect. That was used in the end paragraph about the reading of the final bill is not the end tell-all of any,or final motion of any bill. Their rights to amend any portion of the bill, that even takes place shortly, or even long after the bill has been passed. I like the comments given by Ezra Klien about vocabulary of Governmental explanation. But we must not be in denial of benefits for those on medicare already. For if we do we might be introducing an even worse problem. That of taking care of moturary bills that will become phenominal. Of coarse I think personally we are already looking at that already. So a word of query to those who really make the difference. Look a little further into the treatment of those individuals that need help. But of all the natural enemies of life the one that everyone really seem to ignore is death. Carefully consider being so high minded when it comes down to family, security, health, and welfare of those of us, you do’nt know anything about. The congress, and senate need to stay focused on the Health Care Adminisration information. Instead of trying to always use vanacular verbage to the Health Bill anyway. Have sense of dignity in the matter of peoples lives. And therfore archiac curcumstances will prevail from both sides of the pro’s, and con’s of anyones life style on this planet.

  • Sanford W. Cramer 3rd

    Let`s depoliticize America to free
    businesses and entrepreneurs to race
    forward as they did in the relatively
    nonpoliticized computer industry of the
    70`s,80`s and 90`s. Depolilitcizing
    civilization the root underneath
    it all is leaping forward from the
    bicameral mentality to the neothink
    mentality. I am going to run for the
    Presidency in 2012 not as a Republican
    not as a Democratic(socialist, Commi)
    or any of the other partys but as
    a 12 vision party Neo-tech Party.

  • Amen to that!! And another thing,why didn’t congress just loan that money to the banks under the same terms ,conditions and at the same interest rates that apply to those they (the banks),deal out loans to(that would be us ,their lowly customers).

  • Zeb Matson

    It is time that “We the People,” force our Elected Representatives to do away with “Blind Trusts” in which our Elected Representatives “HIDE” where their Income Streams come from. It used to be a “Privilege to Serve the People.” Since Congress at the Behest of “Senator Bob Dole and his Cohorts,” Wrote and Passed the Legislation that “HIDES” where their Income comes from and who they are actually writing Legislation For; to Screw us out of Our Hard-Earned Income so that they get Richer and we get Poorer….Hmmmm does any of this remind any of you of what it is like to live under Feudalism….what I call an evolution into a Feudocracy that started with making Corporations into Legalized Entities that cannot be imprisoned or punished with Time Served in a Prison or Executed for causing Death or Injury by Selling Products that ARE UNSAFE AND HAZZARDOUS!!! It is TIME to Hold another United States Constitutional Convention to Rewrite our Laws and THROW THE CROOKS OUT!!!!!

  • Danie ray

    Read read the bill(s) set before you. Look what happened when TARP was passed ! A lot of money and very little for it.