Reading The Healthcare Bill

I've been beating around the bush long enough.

It's time to tackle "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009", better known to the rest of us as "the healthcare bill".

The beginning is pretty tame - just a bunch of definitions and "wherefores" that have to be laid out in order to begin any actual undertaking of this size.

(1) IN GENERAL.—The purpose of this division is to provide affordable, quality health care for all Americans and reduce the growth in health care spending.

That "all Americans" is the thing that is at the crux of the debate, at least among the people I've talked to about this. More on that later - if I get too wound up about these people who claim Christianity as their guiding light with one hand while they use the other to beat down their fellow Americans at every opportunity, this reading project won't get very far.

I know law schools are woefully inadequate when it comes to training their students to create legal documents that are readable as well as technically correct, but whomever the Democrats selected to write section 102 subsection A-1-a :


(A) IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1 (Year One)

needs to be horsewhipped.

This is one of those sections that has had radio shock jocks all up in arms for the last few weeks, but the way these kinds of documents are written, section 102 subsection A-1-a and all the ones that follow modify the "grandfathered coverage" clause preceding them:

(a) GRANDFATHERED HEALTH INSURANCE COVERAGE DEFINED.—Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable coverage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 (Year One) if the following conditions are met:

Surely someone without a law degree was available to tell the Dems that this kind of writing was going to come back to bite them in the butt.

The first time as a mortgage loan officer that I went to get someone to sign the loan disclosures that came along with their application, it was a disaster. Back then, there were only about twelve disclosures the borrower really needed to sign to get a loan into underwriting - the servicing disclosure, the RESPA disclosure, the privacy policy disclosure, the Reg Z Truth In Lending disclosure, the fee disclosure, the PMI disclosure, the appraisal disclosure along with a state specific disclosure and several occupancy and insurance disclaimers - but because I didn't really understand how to explain what they said in plain English, it took forever to get the borrowers to sign them.

I took a copy of these disclosures home the next night and went through them, one by one, over and over until I could summarize them simply, yet still be able to elaborate on the details if a sharp eyed borrower had a concern about the language in any clause.

Making government documents readable for the general public should be the next thing the Obama Administration tackles after healthcare - but I won't hold my breath.

I don't know how far I'll get with this reading of the healthcare bill project, but I am willing to bet that, at 50 pages into it, where I stopped yesterday, I'm farther along than 99.9% of the country.

Then again, there were very very few people who actually read each and every word of the documents they signed at their home loan closings either.

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spatter said...

Brown Man,

I would definitely agree that a priority of this administration should be making legislation understandable.

However, I don't recall legislation ever being picked apart as methodically as this health care bill has been. Typically, Americans are too lazy or too lax in their critical thinking skills to care. Dems just under-estimated Repubs opposition to health care reform...

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