A few days ago, TV commentator Bill O’Reilly said that he has a Master’s degree from Harvard University, but that he still cannot understand the Health Care bill. (H. R. 3200)
Well, I am a quasi-literate, half-smart, semi-self educated Georgia redneck and I cannot understand it either. I downloaded the document, all 1,017 pages of it, and attempted to read the thing. I failed. No wonder Rep Conyers objected to being told he should read the bill. The thing is impossible to understand as it is written.
Even the people who wrote the bill apparently have a problem understanding it. From time to time throughout the document, they give up trying and just let someone else do it. For example, in the section on definitions you will find this gem: “(5) DEPENDENT—The term ‘dependent’ has the meaning given such term by the Commissioner and includes a spouse.”
The document is a mishmash of legalese and bureaucratic mumbo-jumbo. For example: ‘‘(e) PAYMENT OF GRANT.— ‘‘(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall make a grant to each State that meets the requirements of subsections (b) and (d), if applicable, for a fiscal year for which funds are appropriated under sub-842 section (m), in an amount equal to the reimbursable percentage of the eligible expenditures of the State for the fiscal year, but not more than the amount allotted to the State under subsection (c) for the fiscal year.
The following section is the one that many people think would deny end-of-life treatment to elderly or severely handicapped people. See if you think that is what it says.
SEC. 1233. ADVANCE CARE PLANNING CONSULTATION. (3) Physician’s QUALITY REPORTING INITIATIVE- (A) IN GENERAL- For purposes of reporting data on quality measures for covered professional services furnished during 2011 and any subsequent year, to the extent that measures are available, the Secretary shall include quality measures on end-of-life care and advanced care planning that have been adopted or endorsed by a consensus-based organization, if appropriate. Such measures shall measure both the creation of and adherence to orders for life-sustaining treatment. `(B) PROPOSED SET OF MEASURES- The Secretary shall publish in the Federal Register proposed quality measures on end of life care and advanced care planning that the Secretary determines are described in subparagraph (A) and would be appropriate for eligible professionals to use to submit data to the Secretary. The Secretary shall provide for a period of public comment on such set of measures before finalizing such proposed measures.”
What we need is a rule that all legislation must be written at or below the tenth grade reading level. And that it must contain fewer than 200 pages. That way even rednecks like myself can understand it. That is what was promised, transparency. But then again, I suspect that the politicians do not want us to understand what they are doing. If we ever figure it out, we might vote them out of office.
Mark Twain once said: “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on or by imbeciles who really mean it.”
He has a point.
Frank Gillispie is founder of The Madison County Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. His website can be accessed at http://frankgillispie.tripod.com/