Read the Bill!!
Congressional committees have been busy coming up with various ideas for health care reform. The Obama Administration has been busy urging both houses of Congress to adopt health care legislation before the August recess. If you are like me, you have been asking yourself, what’s the rush? Well, it’s become pretty apparent to me what the rush is all about.
They don’t want members of Congress to have the time to read the bill. Nor do they want them to have time to talk to the people who really count – the people who put them all in office. I wonder why? Could it be that they just don’t want us to know what’s in the bill. Right now there are two main versions of Health care bills being discussed on Capitol Hill. The House Bill, H.R. 3200 is 1017 pages long. The Senate Bill, called “The Affordable Health Choices Act” is 615 pages long.
Do you trust everyone in Congress to read the bill in its entirety?
I don’t. So I thought we should take a look at the House Bill, and see if there is anything in it that the American people might not like. No spin, just the language that has already been inserted in the bill. Let’s start with the first thing that really jumps out at you. Section 123 is titled “Health Benefits Advisory Committee”. It clearly provides for the establishment of a private-public advisory board, which will recommend covered benefits and essential, enhanced, and premium plans. The Committee will be comprised of (among others) the Surgeon General and the chair of the Health Benefits Advisory Committee (surprise, political appointees in charge!) What is really frightening here is that the Committee is going to consist of 27 members (including the Surgeon General) 18 members who will be political appointees of the President, and 9 members who will be appointed by the Comptroller General. These are the people who will make recommendations to the Secretary of Health and Human Services. I surely don’t want a committee of political appointees making health care decisions for me and members of my family. Do you?
Let’s take a look at another Section of the proposed House Bill. Section 142 is labeled “Duties and Authority of Commissioner.” In a nutshell, it provides that the Health Care Commissioner will be responsible for establishing qualified plan standards, running something called a Health Insurance Exchange and administering individual affordability credits. It sure sounds like the “Commissioner” is going to determine the benefits that you and I have under any plan.
Section 152 of the Bill is labeled “Prohibiting Discrimination in Health Care” says “Except as otherwise explicitly permitted by this Act and by subsequent regulations consistent with this Act, all health care and related services (including insurance coverage and public health activities) covered by this Act shall be provided without regard to personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related services.” In other words, coverage will be provided to all people in our country, without regard to how they got here.
Had enough? It gets better as the bill goes on. For example Section 1173A is called “Standardize Electronic Administrative Transactions”. What does that mean to you and me? Well, in every day language it says the Government will have “real time” access to your financial information so that they can determine your financial responsibility, and it also provides that at the discretion of the government this determination of whether you are eligible for a specific service with a specific facility, “may include utilization of a machine-readable health plan beneficiary identification card.” I’ve just covered a few items contained in the House Bill. If you don’t get the idea that any plan being considered by Congress is going to impact on the kind of health care that you and your family are going to receive, then you just aren’t reading the same things that I am.
I’m sure people who want a one size fits all health care bill at all costs will say these are just scare tactics, utilized by conservatives determined to stop health care reform. To them, I say, rewriting every part of the American health care system is not reform. But more importantly “Read the Bill.”