Skim this article!

Ever wonder what to say when, while discussing health care reform, you’re confronted by some blowhard uncle or neighbor who starts yammering about the need for everyone to “read the bill!”

If so, you would do well to read (or at least skim) this article by John Dickerson of the online magazine, Slate.com. Here’s a key passage:

Though the politics of the complaint [i.e. that lawmakers haven't "read" the bill] are irresistible, it doesn’t make much sense. Just because lawmakers read legislation doesn’t mean they understand it. The reverse is also true: Just because they understand it doesn’t mean they’ve read it. Drafting and reading legislative language is an art form. Staffers who know how to read it and write it are hired to translate the language. They get down in the weeds so the legislators can stay focused on the big principles.

Plus, members of Congress have a hard enough time knowing where they stand on the big things. That’s why they’re always accusing one another of flip-flopping. Let’s not confuse them by making them puzzle over something like this: “For purposes of extension of an agreement with a qualifying ACO under subsection (g)(2), the Secretary shall treat receipt of an incentive payment for a year by an organization under the physician group practice demonstration pursuant to section 1866A as a year for which an incentive payment is made under such subsection, as long as such practice group practice organization meets the criteria under subsection (b)(2).”

Think of it like buying a house: I want to buy this house at this price. I make an agreement with the seller. A month later I sit down in a lawyer’s office and go through page after page of legal jargon with someone I trust—not just to have the expertise to explain it to me but to protect me from anything I don’t want in there. I could study real estate law, read the contract, and make my own determination—but I have a job and a family. If there’s a problem with the final language of the contract, my lawyer alerts me and modifications are made (or I back out).

That’s what finance committee Democrats say Republicans will be able to do when the health care language is crafted into final language that will come up for a vote on the Senate floor.”

2 Comments

  1. IBXer

    September 25, 2009 at 2:49 pm

    If Democrats want people to be able to sit down and read it then why were they in such a hurry to get it passed before the recess?

    hmmmmm…?

  2. [...] of their lenders and mortgagees.” In re Schwartz, 366 B.R. 265, 266 (Bankr. D. Mass. 2007). Skim this article! – pulse.ncpolicywatch.org 09/25/2009 Ever wonder what to say when, while discussing health [...]