Silliest “Serious” Objection To The House Health Reform Bill

Ken AshfordCongress, Health CareLeave a Comment

It still gets a lot of play, even among congresspersons:

"The health care reform bill is over 1,000 pages long!"

I'm not sure what that objection really means.

Are they suggesting that, because it's a huge bill, it must represent a massive government program?

If that's so, why don't they say it's a massve government program?

Or, are they complaining that the bill is so big, nobody can possibly read and understand it?  If that's so, then critics are merely exposing their ignorance or lack of education.

Let's make a comparison.  Atlas Shrugged is 1,200 pages.  People can read and understand that.

But here's the thing — Atlas Shrugged is printed in small type-face, single spaced.

This is what a typical page from HR 3200 looks like.  This is a page from the actual bill:


You see that?  Double spaced, huge font, and margins that are actually wider than the text itself.

A typical bill contains about 160 words per page — a typical book, like a Harry Potter, book — twice as many.

In other words, the House Health Care reform bill is about half a Harry Potter book.  And a teen can knock that one out in half a day.

Yes, you may say, but that's still too big for a bill.

Is it?  A bill to reform health care?  That's pretty broad subject.  Half a Harry Potter book sounds about right, considering the subject matter.  You not only have to make the actual changes themselves – to insurance practices, to administrative practices, to doctor-patient practices — but you have to address private insurance, Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security — AND you have to set forth a way to monitor the reforms to make sure they actually are being implemented — AND establish procedures about enforcement for violators of the new policy, etc.  It IS a lot of ground to cover.

Yes, you may say, but the language of the bill is far more convoluted than a Harry Potter book.

And that's true.  But this is legislation — not quippy thirty second sound bites.  It's ALWAYS been written in legislative-ese. 

But it IS in English.  Don't understand what a particular term means?  There's an entire definition section (which occupies a few dozen pages of the bill). 

And a congressman with a paid staff of (one hopes) educated people can certainly figure this out.  After all, congressmen (through their paid staff) wrote it.

So the notion that the bill is really long and full of big words and doesn't have pictures is not only a specious criticism, but an embarassing one showing the ignorance or laziness of the person making the criticism.