Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Reporter's Notebook

- Paul Leonard can be contacted at

America, meet H.R. 3200

AT over 1,000 pages, Health Reform Bill H.R. 3200 is American democracy’s answer to the Russian novel, with the long labyrinthine list of foreign names replaced by equally foreign-sounding terms like “gainsharing demonstration” and “basket percentage.”

And that’s just on page 838 of one of the five versions of the bill currently in committee.

So it’s pretty clear that very little is clear about healthcare reform. Even a veteran politician like Pennsylvania party-jumper Sen. Arlen Specter had trouble explaining to a befuddled constituent at a recent town hall-style meeting that he couldn’t say for sure how he’d vote on reform – mainly because there is no Senate bill to vote on yet.

Since few people have read every provision in H.R. 3200, I thought it would be helpful to discuss what’s NOT in any version of the bill, according to money for abortion procedures, an opt-out clause for members of Congress or one mention of a government-run “death panel,” where decisions are made about a sick person’s “level of productivity in society.”

To be fair, what’s also lacking is a concrete estimate of how much healthcare reform is going to cost. There’s also scant mention about how many uninsured Americans will be covered under the plan or how the heavy burden of healthcare costs will be lifted off the backs of individuals and small business owners.

Despite HR 3200’s shortcomings, there seems little chance that Americans are going to turn their backs completely on reforming the system. “We need healthcare reform this year, we don’t want to wait,” said Julia Patterson, chair of the King County Board of Health at a Seattle rally for healthcare reform Monday. “The status quo is not acceptable.”

Speaking for those a little bit closer to home at the event, Clark County Board of Health Advisory Board Council member Dave Seabrook put it another way: “It’s morally wrong that millions of people have no access to healthcare … it harms all of us.”


Anonymous said...

Instead of healthcare reform, why are we not talking about insurance company reform. They are the ones who have driven our cost up. They are the ones who decide if a procedure should or should not occur even when ordered by a doctor. We already have a "death panel" within the insurance companies.