Saturday, October 31, 2009

Big bill, giant disappointment

The big Health Care Reform bill was released, accompanied by unwarranted self-congratulation.

Its short title: Affordable Health Care for America Act. What’s next — the Peace On Earth Act? Congress have bit off more than they can chew, although it is likely they can screw up 17.9% of the economy.

Their health legislation is a dual threat, the most audacious legislative package ever introduced, and the most mendacious.

I was going to curl up with a copy over the weekend, until I gave up.  A web search yielded mostly government puff pieces by other people who haven’t read the bill. No analyses, which suggests that even the harshest critics of the government’s Unconstitutional actions need more time.

Typical nonsense from the Committee on Education and Labor, some self-perpetuating government body:

Kruger, Mike on October 29, 2009 10:30 AM
For the first time in U.S. history, all Americans would have access to quality, affordable health care under updated health insurance reform legislation unveiled by House Democrats.

The Affordable Health Care for America Act [H.R. 3962], which blends and updates the three versions of previous bills passed by the House committees of jurisdiction in July, embodies President Obama’s key goals for health reform. It will slow the growth in out-of-control costs, introduce competition into the health care marketplace to keep coverage affordable and insurers honest, protect people’s choices of doctors and health plans, and assure all Americans access to quality, stable, affordable health care.

That blew up my Bullshit Meter.

The 1990 pages of text are available for download, and read like the following excerpt, which summarizes the bill’s alleged intent:

20 institutes health delivery system reforms both to in-
21 crease quality and to reduce growth in health spend-
22 ing so that health care becomes more affordable for
23 businesses, families, and Government.

Right. Because there is no entity better suited to reducing cost, while improving quality, than the US Federal government. Look at the great job they’ve done to education.

Reading the bill doesn’t seem too daunting at first glance because of the large print. Only when you actually read it, you discover the problem. It has numerous terms, which are defined elsewhere in the document.

(1) ACCEPTABLE COVERAGE.—The term ‘‘ac-
4 ceptable coverage’’ has the meaning given such term
5 in section 302(d)(2).

18 ‘‘essential benefits package’’ is defined in section
19 222(a).

That is clear, if useless. You need to find section 302(d)(2) and various others. Good luck. Had they put the document online with links, it would be easier to decipher, painstaking work for those preparing the files. If they eliminated this shortcut to confusion, defining terms where they occur, the bill would have been 3100 pages.

Pelosi proclamation

Even obvious terms are defined elsewhere.
9 (16) INDIAN.—The term ‘‘Indian’’ has the
10 meaning given such term in section 4 of the Indian
11 Health Care Improvement Act (24 U.S.C. 1603).

All they needed to write was that they are not referring to citizens of India.  The one term that needed explanation was not defined.  REFORM.

The best definition I saw was
17 (30) Y1, Y2, ETC.—The terms ‘‘Y1’’, ‘‘Y2’’,
18 ‘‘Y3’’, ‘‘Y4’’, ‘‘Y5’’, and similar subsequently num-
19 bered terms, mean 2013 and subsequent years, re-
20 spectively

If I understand, they refer to 2013 as Y1, 2014 as Y2 and so on. Wouldn’t it have been easier to call them 2013, 2014 and so on?

Then there are scattered Clerical Amendments, lots of them, changes that could have been incorporated into the document. They result from combining three different bills the laziest way possible. Every law gets amended, so understanding the original, which seems unlikely, will only suggest future unintended consequences. This 1990-page catastrophe has all these amendments, even though it has yet to pass. If this plan is unworkable and makes health care less affordable and available, at least they could have come up with something readable, so we could understand exactly how we are getting screwed.

My feeling is, if I can’t read and understand it, it’s no good, no good, no good. Just the cross-referencing is a nightmare. It’s in a searchable PDF file, but finding particular sections is daunting. A  word search for “doctor” yielded nothing.

Included are vague amendments to the Internal Revenue Code of 1986. Nothing screams “simplicity” like IRS involvement.

A Health Choices Commissioner will be established (under section 241). In other words, a new department. But don’t worry. Decisions can be challenged.
17 (4) APPEALS.—The Secretary shall establish an
18 appeals process for individuals to appeal a deter-
19 mination of the Secretary—

Not sure if the Secretary is different from the Commissioner. One thing is clear. There will be new taxes, which will get higher and apply to more citizens, whenever the government wants more money. Supporters keep saying it is fully paid for and will reduce the deficit in the long term. How about a money-back guarantee?

A huge section addresses Indian health care. (Not India Indians.) I’ve got reservations about that because the government already administers their health care — disgracefully. The plan covers “suicide education.” From what I’ve read, Indians have mastered that. However, they are Americans, so why the separate provisions? Don’t they deserve the same plan as everyone else, assuming anyone deserves it.

HillaryCare provided a little booklet that I read at the time. It was very clear, which may be why it died. But if Pelosi’s bill is designed to confuse us, we must oppose it.

One complaint about private insurers is that they have so many rules, it is so complicated. I wouldn’t turn to government to make things easier, but even I was amazed at how thoroughly convoluted the bill is. Nancy and the Gang have outdone themselves. Obviously, this allows the Speaker to claim the bill does, or does not do, anything she says because it’s impossible to decipher.

Of course, if the bill passes and a Health Choices Commissioner is chosen, it will be too late. And what of changes in Administrations? Obama chooses one kind of Commissioner. The next president may choose someone quite different, creating instability.

Dennis Smith at The Heritage Foundation asks “Do members of Congress have any idea how this massive legislation will really affect us? Does anyone in the Speaker’s Office or in the Congressional leadership really know how moving the various parts of health care legislation will interact with one another and impact our care, our spending, our pocketbooks?”

What a stick-in-the-mud! He crystallised the problem in one sentence:
“It is becoming clearer as to how much of a gamble the politicians in Washington are willing to take with our lives, our fortunes, and our futures.”

See.  It’s not that complicated at all. end/ gt

Apologies for the lengthy post.  Did I mention the bill I’m discussing is 1990 pages?

Posted by gt slade in 22:30:50

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