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Biased Editorializing...
Hey kids, ever hear that certain bills in Congress are hundreds, nay, thousands of pages long? here's why:



    Subject to the succeeding provisions of this section, for purposes of establishing acceptable cov erage under this division, the term ‘‘grandfathered health insurance coverage’’ means individual health insurance coverage that is offered and in force and effect before the first day of Y1 if the following conditions are met:


      1. IN GENERAL.—Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day of Y1.

      2. DEPENDENT COVERAGE PERMITTED.—Subparagraph (A) shall not affect the subsequent enrollment of a dependent of an individual who is covered as of such first day.

    2. LIMITATION ON CHANGES IN TERMS OR CONDITIONS.—Subject to paragraph (3) and except as required by law, the issuer does not change any of its terms or conditions, including benefits and cost-sharing, from those in effect as of the day before the first day of Y1.

    3. RESTRICTIONS ON PREMIUM INCREASES.—The issuer cannot vary the percentage increase in the premium for a risk group of enrollees in specific grandfathered health insurance coverage without changing the premium for all enrollees in the same risk group at the same rate, as specified by the Commissioner.


        IN GENERAL.—The Commissioner shall establish a grace period whereby, for plan years beginning after the end of the 5-year period beginning with Y1, an employment-based health plan in operation as of the day before the first day of Y1 must meet the same requirements as apply to a qualified health benefits plan under section 101, including the essential benefit package requirement under section 121.

      1. EXCEPTION FOR LIMITED BENEFITS PLANS.—Subparagraph (A) shall not apply to an employment-based health plan in which the coverage consists only of one or more of the following:

        1. Any coverage described in section 3001(a)(1)(B)(ii)(IV) of division B of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (PL 111–5).

        2. Excepted benefits (as defined in section 733(c) of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974), including coverage under a specified disease or illness policy described in paragraph (3)(A) of such section.

        3. Such other limited benefits as the Commissioner may specify.

        In no case shall an employment-based healthplan in which the coverage consists only of oneor more of the coverage or benefits described inclauses (i) through (iii) be treated as acceptable coverage under this division

    2. TRANSITIONAL TREATMENT AS ACCEPTABLE COVERAGE.—During the grace period specified in paragraph (1)(A), an employment-based health plan that is described in such paragraph shall be treated as acceptable coverage under this division.


    1. IN GENERAL.—Individual health insurance coverage that is not grandfathered health insurance coverage under subsection (a) may only be offered on or after the first day of Y1 as an Exchange-participating health benefits plan.
    2. SEPARATE, EXCEPTED COVERAGE PERMITTED..—Excepted benefits (as defined in section 2791(c) of the Public Health Service Act) are not included within the definition of health insurance coverage. Nothing in paragraph (1) shall prevent the offering, other than through the Health Insurance Exchange, of excepted benefits so long as it is of fered and priced separately from health insurance coverage.

That certainly didn't seems like 3.5 pages to me when reading it. The reason why the page counts are high is in part that in posting it here I stripped out a lot of extra formatting. The bills the congresscritters read are formatted for ease of markup: wide margins, every line numbered, large line spacing, etc. On average there appears to be less than 25 numbered lines per page, and each line is short as well: "included within the definition of health insurance" is an example line size.

But I'm not here to bitch about large page counts. Nor do I pick random pages of thousand-page-long (even if they are short pages) bills to read and post about. Rather, I'm here to talk about the editorial in the Investor's Business Daily concerning this bill, and specifically concerning the "'uh-oh' moment" they had when reading page 16 of the bill.

The lede from the editorial says:
It turns out we were right: The provision would indeed outlaw individual private coverage. Under the Orwellian header of "Protecting The Choice To Keep Current Coverage," the "Limitation On New Enrollment" section of the bill clearly states:

"Except as provided in this paragraph, the individual health insurance issuer offering such coverage does not enroll any individual in such coverage if the first effective date of coverage is on or after the first day" of the year the legislation becomes law.

So we can all keep our coverage, just as promised — with, of course, exceptions: Those who currently have private individual coverage won't be able to change it. Nor will those who leave a company to work for themselves be free to buy individual plans from private carriers.

I would have expected the editors of the IBD to know how to read. I would have expected the House Ways and Means Committee to know how to read as well. So I can't believe they would have missed the "Grandfathered Health Insurance Coverage Defined" subsection title between the "Orwellian header" and the "section" (actually, paragraph) title they cite. I can't believe they would walk out of a discussion with congressional staffers and not realize that "such coverage" refers to an existing plan grandfathered in to the new scheme.

Given that three pages later (page 19), in the same section even, the bill discusses new individual health coverage plans, I fail to see how anyone genuinely appraising this bill (or at least these 3.5 pages) could feel that the bill "outlaw individual private coverage".

I'm left with an unmistakable conclusion:

Either (a) The editors of Investor's Business Daily are incompetent at their job of reading, analyzing, and reporting on the bills of interest to their readers,

or, (b) they are willfully, knowingly, and transparently lying to their readers, pandering to their political viewpoint, and deliberately taking quotes out of context to bias their readership against a bill for false reasons.

They know that the vast majority of people won't fact-check them, won't read the bill for themselves to judge the accuracy. In fact, they are counting on it. You'll note, when you read the article, that they identify the bill as "the House's 'health care for all Americans' bill", which I found completely unhelpful when trying to find the text to HR.3200 America's Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009. The editorial is already circulating through the blogosphere, and the opponents of health care reform are going to leap on it, requote the out-of-context portion of the bill, banter about the "outlaw individual private coverage" line, as well as the remainder of the rant in the editorial, and scream about how horrid this bill is. It's deliberately quotable and inflammatory, and I'm sure the IBD editors know that and are counting on it.

But I fact-check, it's my service to you.

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The formatting is great for its intended purpose: to allow a bunch of people to discuss the bill on paper, making notes as they go. The line numbers easily allow someone to say "I think that this, on page XX, line YY, should be reworded so", and allow others to scribble down the changes on their working copy. It's the exact same reason why manuscripts are asked to be submitted with wide margins, double spaced, etc.

But I was hoping to get more comments on the rest of the post, not my aside about formatting and page length.

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