The Colbert Healthcare Challenge: Part 2

I know you’ve all been eagerly waiting to hear about my adventures with the House healthcare reform bill. Well, I am currently on page 143 of the 1018 page document. As readers know, I am not afraid of a long and winding document. United States Constitution and Bill of Rights? A 19 page cake walk. Constitution of Iraq? A frustrating, but manageable 43 page read. The Malaysian Constitution? A very challenging 650 page quagmire, but I got the job done. I walked into this challenge cocky and confident. (Don’t remember the challenge? Click here.)

Here’s the thing, when everyone in the media reported on the bill, they said it was 1000 pages long. What they failed to mention is that it isn’t merely a 1000 page read. It is a 1000 page, soul crushing, life diminishing, tortured read. Mr. Gingrich, Newt, I apologize. You had every right to snort at the idea of reading this bill. Compared to you, I’m a young woman, with years ahead of me. You, on the other hand, have got to be in your 60’s. You don’t have the years to spare to have them sucked out of you by attempting to navigate this document. I now understand Newt, and I apologize.

So what I’m saying is, ouch, this is not an easy thing to digest. It’s constantly referencing other sections of the bill, and nine times out of ten it’s a section nowhere near the section you’re reading. The language is fairly clear, it has to be considering page 39 is sure to state:

PLAIN LANGUAGE.—In this subsection, the term “plain language” means language that the intended audience, including individuals with limited English proficiency, can readily understand and use because that language is clean, concise, well-organized, and follows other best practices of plain language writing.

“Concise and well-organized” is debatable, but I knew what all the words were, although occasionally despite reading statement out loud I still didn’t quite understand what it meant.

In defense of how outrageously long and complex the bill is, I have to say I hadn’t quite grasped the ripple effect of adding a government provided health option to our nation’s health care mix. You need to figure out who will manage it, how they will manage it, what it does to the tax code, how it may affect Medicare, and so much more. It’s this long because they’re attempting to be thorough.

That said, yes, I now understand why it’s so long and complex, that doesn’t actually make it any easier for me, Rebecca the Blogger, (Yes media outlets, contact me, I’m totally the next Joe the Plumber. If he can get a whole new career out of one question, I certainly deserve one for attempting this.) to read. Here’s the notables:

– I haven’t seen anything that looks like death panels.
– Looks like they want to lay the smack down on insurance companies: no dropping people suddenly, no denial due to pre-existing conditions, making sure all plans offer something with regards to hospitalization, outpatient hospital and clinic services, services of doctors and health care professionals, prescription drugs, Rehabilitative and habilitative services, Mental health and substance use disorder services, preventive services, maternity and infant care, no co-pays for preventive care.
– They are trying to make sure you can keep your current insurance if you like it.
– So far I’ve yet to see anything that looks like a socialist plot to take control of our federal government.

There you have it, the feeble sum up of the first 143 pages of the bill. Sweet mother, at this rate it will take me around two months to get through it all. I’ll keep working at it, but I suspect the bill will be passed, dumped, or radically altered by the time I get done reading this version.

There is one point I would like to make here, if you all will indulge me for a moment. I am not a politician nor am I a political analyst. I don’t even get paid to write for this website. I am not a professional anything. Yet here I am, struggling to wrangle this monster of a bill. I’m doing it out of a desire to try to be an educated citizen, and also to get some amusing blog content. Although I apologized to Newt, I’m outraged that a leader in the political arena would dare pretend to understand the bill without having ever read it. You make a LIVING with this stuff. You have a staff that could read it for you and give you a power point presentation. I got nothing. I’m a woman of average intellect with a PDF document that has nothing to gain by attempting to be versed in the nuances of this bill. Major news outlets aren’t asking me for an interview on the subject. I don’t have books to hustle. If you haven’t read the bill, I don’t want to hear your thoughts on it. Period.

Okay, I’ll get off my soap box now, because honestly, I can’t afford to lose any more time to writing this, I still have 875 pages to read.