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The Official Blog of National Taxpayers Union

The Health Care Reform Bill in Its Own Words

Posted by Jeff Dircksen - July 15, 2009

We've spent a little time looking at the language in the House Democrat's 1,018-page health care reform bill, "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009," and a couple of things stand out. First, the legislation empowers a very busy bureaucracy. The term "Secretary" -- as in the Secretaries of Health & Human Services, Labor, Defense, and Veterans Affairs appears 1,124 times in the bill. The Secretaries -- along with Commissioners (199 references), Committees (76 references), and Boards (17 references) are busy conducting studies, developing methodologies, and receiving recommendations among other things -- some of the other things are listed in the table below, including requiring, limiting, penalizing, regulating, taxing, and enforcing their way to affordable health care for all.

Language of a Busy Bureaucracy...

Second, the bill doesn't include language that might help driven down costs without the busy bureaucracy. The terms "consumer-driven" and "patient-driven" as in consumer-driven and patient-driven choices and health care do not appear in the bill. And while the terms "benefit" and "benefits" appear 375 times, "choice" and "options" appear just 85 times combined. Even "marketplace" -- a term that the President has used to describe the so-called public option -- appears just 3 times as does the term "competition."

Limiting Freedom, Competition, & the Marketplace

Words don't always have a lot of meaning inside the Beltway, but if the language of the "America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009" is a guide to its true intent then the bill is really about empowering bureaucracy and limiting freedom, competition, and the marketplace.

(Thanks to Demian Brady and Pete Sepp for their research assistance.)

Thoughts?   Add Comment -

Kevin said on Jul 16 2009 at 3:48am
I heard that on page 16 of the bill there is a provision for making private insurance illegal. So apparently once this gets implemented if you lose your job or become self employed and lose your coverage you are only able to get the government insurance. So it looks like it eventually will be a single payer government option just as Obama always wanted. Great, just more power to Obama's power hungry administration to run every aspect of our lives. Nothing like higher taxes, fewer options and rationed health care. We must make sure that this bill does not pass or America as we know it ceases to exist.

Portsmouth Tea said on Jul 16 2009 at 6:56am
Read bill here: http://help.senate.gov/BAI09A84_xml.pdf

Page 16 talks about certain types of coverage a group plan must carry and relies heavily on the recommendations by the United States Preventive Services Task Force, but does not appear to make private insurance illegal.

The task force is supposedly independent, though I don't know how one gets on the task force.

Portsmouth Tea said on Jul 16 2009 at 7:01am
The bill does establish the suspicion that kids mature slower these days, codifying children at age 26:
"A group health plan and a health insurance issuer offering group or individual health insurance coverage that provides dependant coverage of children shall make available such coverage for children who are not more than 26 years of age."

natrualdist said on Jul 16 2009 at 10:04am
Portsmouth, I don't think you are linking to the correct bill. The bill you linked to is only 614 pages long, but the health care bill in question is 1018 pages (according to the article.)
Does anyone have the actual House bill number or senate bill number?

natrualdist said on Jul 16 2009 at 10:15am
Found it.

House bill number H. R. 3200. Under section 102 is where it talks about outlawing new insurance policies after the first year of the bill taking effect.

Read it here:

Jeff said on Jul 16 2009 at 10:22am
The copy of the bill (HR 3200 btw) that we received is 1,018. The Government Printing Office versions is 1,017 http://frwebgate.access.gpo.gov/cgi-bin/getdoc.cgi?dbname=111_cong_bills&docid=f:h3200ih.txt.pdf. A text/HTML copy is available from THOMAS here, http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/query/z?c111:H.R.3200:

Jeff said on Jul 16 2009 at 10:38am
I am not an attorney, nor do I play one on this blog, but I will go out on a limb here and speculate that insurers are not allowed to enroll people in "grandfathered" plans, which is what sec. 102(a) deals with, consequently future enrollees would have to pick from plans that are probably more "conforming" than existing plans.

Great question for the Speaker and other House leaders though.

Keith said on Jul 16 2009 at 8:45pm
What insurance companies are going to benefit from this?
Is this bill unconstitional? It clearly restricts our freedom of choice

GMoney2009 said on Jul 23 2009 at 10:18pm
Really, if you haven't read the bill, don't quote it like you did.

Section 102 - http://tinyurl.com/m674uw

of House Resolution 3200 - http://tinyurl.com/n7c55h

simply defines how insurance plans that don't meet the reformed requirements will be allowed to continue, but not accept new members, which in the long run could mean the plans would eventually be phased out due to dwindling membership, but it does not outlaw private insurance.

The idea is also that insurance plans more in line with the end goals of the reform will be offered by private insurers, and thereby insurers will convert those old policies into reformed policies.

Quite frankly, the wording I read, looks like insurance companies are lobbying to protect themselves from each other, more than the government.

Or maybe I'm wrong and becoming a new Grandfather will become illegal and Obama's Population Control of sterilization and forced abortions will become the new norm. Best way to control costs, is limit the number of persons for who benefits are being paid. THAT makes more sense, and is better for conservative talking points.

The last person standing will have the BEST insurance ever, but of course they will solely be paying for it through the taxes they tax themselves, as they will be the government for themselves. Genius!

GMoney2009 said on Jul 23 2009 at 10:22pm
I forgot to add, that I'm more suspicious of the bill now that I know it was sponsored by two Republicans. I feel a lil bit better now that it has garnered the support of two Democrats, although I know none of the players on either side.

Carson said on Jul 24 2009 at 11:55am

What basis is there to your claim that "insurance companies are lobbying to protect themselves"?

Are you accusing conservatives of advocating population control?

Any support this bill recieves by the House or Senate is solely to benefit them politically. Obama said himself, he doesnt have to worry about this plan and that he's not the issue here.

This bill is a power grab and to speak on suspicion because a particular party has shown support shows your IGNORANCE...

Rick said on Jul 28 2009 at 6:52am
It is clear to me that the goal of this is to elliminate private health insurance for everyone but the very affluent, because they will be the only ones capable of affording it. Think about it, they are not allowing new enrollees into those plans that don't conform to the new regulations. For instance, coverage for "dependant children" until age 26. Well, no insurance company is going to cover very many if they have to cover dependants until age 26. So the cost will become prohibitive, but the coverage still available. It is an attack on the (quite naturally conservative) middle class, which the Obamanites cannot stand because of the power they currently possess to direct policy in America. That is what this legislation is aimed at elliminating.

EllenCWaine said on Aug 07 2009 at 9:49am
Whether you like the plan or not, this is really stupid science. By this measure, the Dems' bill is far less coercive as the Bill of Rights. See http://languagelog.ldc.upenn.edu/nll/?p=1643

said on Sep 04 2009 at 5:01pm
where does it mention that certain people will be exempt>

Will said on Nov 21 2009 at 9:34pm
Everyone who is opposed to, and frightened, by the H. R. 3962 Bill, please voice your opinions and help show the numbers of opposition to this bill among the citizens of America by joining: http://www.facebook.com/pages/US-Citizens-Against-The-National-Health-Care-Bill/209360755329

Maguire said on Dec 16 2009 at 2:17pm
There is an exorbitant amount of cost going into and surrounding the establishment of this bill. However these costs are only in addition to the overall cost of health care. Complete health care reform is necessary, not simply the provider care reform which we are currently awaiting. . According to Eva Mor author of (Making the Golden Years Golden), The administration of the existing health delivery system is bloated with waste and unnecessary cost. If information was shared by all providers of health services and all insurers by using computerized systems to store all medical records, it would cut costs and reduce errors that would save and improve lives. http://www.ourblook.com/component/option,com_sectionex/Itemid,200076/id,8/view,category/#catid107
Preventative care is something we need desperately in this country so the real question is going to be, how do we get it? Especially when there are so many parties who have private interests at stake in the face of reform. Health care is a public service which every American will eventually require at some point in their lives, however as it stands, health care has been diluted by bureaucracy, industry, and politics.