Health Care Bills Make for Heavy Summer Reading

Okay, fellow Americans. Our elected officials do not seem to have the time to read health care bills HR3200 and HR3400, so it’s up to us. So fire up your laptops and PCs and type “thomas.loc.gov” in your browser. You are now on your way to more than one thousand pages of verbage about the health care reform package. Good luck.

After you type in “Thomas.loc.gov” and hit send, you will be greeted with a page from the Library of Congress. Click on the “HR3200: America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009” that appears at the top. You will then be offered a list of options from the bill. Then pick, click, and we’ll see you in a few days.

Although many Americans are clamoring to read HR3200 (and its shorter cousin HR3400 which addresses small business health insurance plans and excessivelawsuits against medical providers), apparently our lawmakers are happy to leave the reading to us. House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers commented that “what good is reading the bill if it’s 1,000 pages and you don’t have two days and two lawyers to find out what it means after you’ve read it?”

Rather than read HR3200, it seems that many of our lawmakers are following party instructions instead. (Do I hear someone’s mother saying “If Johnny jumped off the bridge, would you do it too?”) Something is wrong when one of the most important bills ever to be debated by our elected officials is being pawned off as too big and complex to read.

But their constituents are reading it. Some of the most popular pages being highlighted by Americans are page 167, which discusses how any individual who does not have an acceptable (government approved) health care plan will be taxed 2.5% of their income; page 272, which discusses rationing care for cancer patients; and pages 425-430, which address end-of-life issues.

Americans have a responsibility to read information about the health care reform bill before they complain. But our elected officials also have a responsibility to read the information before they vote. If they don’t, they will likely not get their constituents vote the next election. In the meantime, however, their neglect does not help Americans with their plight. It looks like we need to keep reading. Keep the light on, America.

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