The Reconciliation Act of 2010 sits before us now, a 2309 page .pdf file chocked full of Therefors and Wherebys and a whole slew of legalese; one piece referencing another. Even if you have a law degree, there’s no way you’ll know what it all means and how (or IF) it all works together. In short, even legislators are going to have to take each others’ word for it. But that all assumes that any of them will have or will take the time to read it.
72 hours of “transparency” means over 32 pages per hour — if they don’t sleep, eat, shower, cross-reference the spaghetti-code, or think about what any of it means or how it all supposedly fits together. The reality is that there is barely time to read it all, never mind the hope of catching mistakes or misunderstandings. There is certainly no time to analyze it, to ponder, to decide… and yet the House is expecting to vote?
We here at Medical Justice have kept an open mind, we hoped that this Health Care Reform bill would be a good start, something that could be modified, revisited. We even hoped to press for Tort Reform separately of this bill. But there’s no way that such a mammoth document could possibly be comprehensive, or even comprehended. Any good idea takes in the myriad nuances of a situation, gives those nuances fair consideration, and comes up with a simple, streamlined solution, a formula or policy, per se, to guide one towards the correct course of action. This sprawling text is the exact opposite of a good idea. Like our country’s tax code, it will take teams of expert to even know for sure whether something is or is not lawful. This is what they want to give the American people? How will WE ever know what it really says? Are we expected to take their word for that as well?
The Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation’s report is out. It took 5 pages to summarize 20 pages of tabled data. We can grasp that. Over a period of 10 years, this health care bill is expected to cost about 940 billion dollars, insure 31 million people, put an end to pre-existing conditions for dependent children, and supposedly reduce the Federal Deficit by 1.2 trillion dollars during its second decade. During the first decade, it will produce relatively little, but tax increases will begin almost immediately. There’s your summary version. HOW will it accomplish these things, though? What will We The People have to live with on a day-to-day basis? What will health care providers have to deal with on a day-to-day basis? In short, nobody really knows.
To vote on this bill without weeks of vetting, thinking, examining, soul-searching, is irresponsible at the very least. We aren’t saying that it must be bad, (though it seems less than optimal.) We aren’t rendering an opinion about what is in there at all. We are saying that 72 hours isn’t even remotely realistic. Speaker Pelosi should not call for a vote on this matter without allowing legislators the time to read and analyze it.
We won’t tell you how to feel about this bill. We couldn’t possibly. We haven’t the time for such analysis ourselves. What we will ask is that you phone your representatives; tell them not to be forced to vote quickly. Tell them to take their time, to read it for themselves, to pour over all the nuances and intricacies before voting. After more than a year of working on this, it seems the least they could do.