Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Translation Needed - HR 3200 from Congresses to English

My friend Justin passed along an e-mail forward that's no-doubt been making the rounds. If my Goolging is correct, it was an e-mail version of this page, entitled: The HC Monstrosity-All 1,018 Pages. This blog post sets the stage with an introductory paragraph (the e-mail was missing this paragraph):

Since Congress doesn’t want to read the Health Care Bill and Obama, ACORN, Unions, Lawyers, & Special Interest Groups don’t want you to know whats in this monstrosity, I decided to do it myself. I’ve taken all my tweets on the HC bill and put them into one single place for your enjoyment. Additionally here is the link to the full bill

(ACORN? Really? Anyway, I digress)

The post, and e-mail, then go on to highlight dozens of sections of the bill, and what they mean for you as a citizen. So examples:

Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill – THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benes u get
PG 50 Section 152 in HC bill – HC will be provided 2 ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise ...

After reading this interpretation of the bill, how could you not be terrified of it?

One person did post a follow-up comment that attempted to refute most of the claims that were stated. For example, the above comments were addressed as:

Pg 30 Sec 123 of HC bill – THERE WILL BE A GOVT COMMITTEE that decides what treatments/benes u get

The government committee will not decide what treatment or benefits you get. The panel, which is mandated to represent both the medical field and employers, will recommend (i.e. not mandate) two things: an ”essential benefits package” (that is, minimum coverage), and cost-sharing levels for “enhanced plans and premium plans” (which would ensure a maximum individual medical expense). Not only would this committee not mandate the coverages in those plans, it would not mandate which plan is offered or which plan a person must buy. This in no way effects choice of the individual, only attempts to ensure standards under which an individual is guaranteed a certain level of care.
PG 50 Section 152 in HC bill – HC will be provided 2 ALL non US citizens, illegal or otherwise
Talk about grasping at straws. Here’s the exact verbiage of the text: “Except as otherwise explicitly permitted by this Act and by subsequent regulations consistent with this Act, all health care and related services (including insurance coverage and public health activities) covered by this Act shall be provided without regard to personal characteristics extraneous to the provision of high quality health care or related service.” Oh my God! Those evil bastards!!

Accurate or not, the issue raised by this blog post is a good one. HR 3200, heck most (all?) bills in congress are hundreds of pages of difficult to read text. It's awesome that they are available online, but the text is so hard to understand there's enormous room confusion.

When I checked out congress' version of the bill, I was impressed to find that they allowed people to comment and link to any section of it. Cool! But, the comments were surprisingly sparse and not especially helpful. Take these two comments on section 123, on the Health Benefits Advisory Committee:

So all of the members of the "Committee" are appointed by the president, since the comptroller is a position not yet filled permanently, and that position is appointed by the president.

Yes - and these few people will decide what health care coverage you will receive. Had enough Socialism yet?

Congress gets big points for offering a way to comment and permalink any section of any bill. But, they lose points for not engaging people in conversation and using their own comments to further explain what was intended.

If you ask me (and nobody does), I think a bill like HR 3200 should be accompanied by an English version. You should then be able to read a side-by-side translation. The English version should include the following:

  • A plain English description
  • What the intent of the section is
  • Where possible, a concrete example
  • Limitations on when the section applies
  • Frequently asked questions

Ideally, this translation would be "certified" by a bipartisan group of some kind.

Yes, an English translation would be a huge amount of effort to put together. But, I think everyone would benefit from it in a big way.


  1. McKay Machina7:48 PM

    Why hasn't anyone commented on this?

    People are becoming outraged over this and no one seems to know what they are so angry about. I've been listening to conservative talk radio for the last two weeks solid (out of morbid curiosity) and any negative reaction to the bill I hear by conservatives in the media is a regurgitation (sometimes verbatim) of what I'm hearing on KFYI (Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, etc.). Don't get me wrong, there's plenty to question and even reject about this bill but KNOW your stuff before you get yourself all worked up. You know?

    Anyway. Read the bill:

    If you don't bother to read it, you can't have an informed opinion about it.

  2. Anonymous6:30 AM

    I agree with the need for a suplemental document expecially since pg 39 of the bill mandates a plain language clause for Health care docs. Also, the health care advisory board may only recomend what should be, but the health care commissioner decides and yes there is a clause for making changes, but how long will that take and what says it has to be implemented?

  3. Excellent points guys.

    I think the White House actually published a video in response to the e-mail I cited above (or one like it).

    It's just so sad how much needless confusion there is - there's plenty to debate without bringing completely false statements into the discussion :-).

  4. Anonymous9:10 PM

    Section 246 says that no illegal immigrant will be covered - however, above that in, I believe, 242, there is mention of being covered as a "family" if one person is covered. Does this refute Sec 246 in that since the child (legal by birth) is covered, with the illegal parents be covered by virtue of being "family"?

  5. Anonymous12:28 PM

    Presidet Obama planted his New Hamphshire Town hall with Head Election Worker: Kathleen Manning Hall (Google for PREVIOUS buddy Picture with Obama during SHAM-pain) and there would be more to discuss about MOM except she took down Her FaceBook & pica web pages and all the Obama and Clinton peeps who was friends with) and then brought her daughter; Julia Hall; to Town Hall with fake "question"; so Obama could stage his DEATH4gammie discussion! Next day MSLSD = "editied OUT" said girl = Julia Hall and her mom and "EDITIED in" a little boy then panned back to Obama like that was who "asked" the question! Why? = BUSTED! The man who PROMISED "Transperancy" allowed a child to be used to further his Medical Manifesto MESS......then MSNBC actually re-edited the Town Hall video on their next mornings news show! That is FRAUD & LYING BY OMMISION! And YES! = anyone with an "Anchor Baby" can get a free ride on the backs of U.S. tax payer! We are headed down a slippery slope that 3 States already tried and they are BANKRUPT. Now Obama makes stuff up and can not even articulate this miss=oracle! He looks likes Charlie Browns Teacher when he is talking!