S. 1796, the 1,502-page America’s Healthy Future Act bill (aka the Baucus Bill) has been excreted from the Senate Finance Committee. And the hysteria about its length has already begun. Oh my, the table of contents alone is over 12 pages!
What you will not hear, however, is that all such bills are issued in “markup” format. They are double and triple spaced. They only use up the middle third of the page. This leaves room for Senators, staff & lobbyists to mark up the bill to render it totally contrary to its purpose, I mean, to be sure all interests are taken into account.
If you cut and paste the bill into Word, take out most of the spacing, and use 2/3 of the page instead of 1/3, the bill shrinks to 439 pages, about the size of the average trashy novel. So it is short enough for anyone to read and understand. Anyone. You can do it yourself at:
So if your Congressperson bloviates about this bill being too huge to read, you might help him or her find another career when the next election comes around.
I would hope the bill is as long as it needs to be to be sure no one ever again goes bankrupt because of our health care system, that everyone is covered, and that our costs are reduced by 1/3. I’ll let you know after I finish reading the bill. But of course by the time the mark ups are done it will be unrecognizable from its current form.
I guarantee you one thing though: this is a momentous moment in our country’s history. Health care reform will only be as good as what is demanded by each and every American. I wish I could remember who first said this: the best measure of our humanity is how large a circle we have to draw to include everyone we think of as “us”. On this issue, let’s draw a circle large enough to include every citizen.