NYT headline today: Obama Aides Aim to Simplify and Scale Back Health Bills, as well they should.
The Senate and House bills are all-encompassing and tremendously complicated. Law professor William Jacobson has been reading ONE of the healthcare bills, HR3200, by selecting one page at random every day, and the results are mind-boggling. Take a look:
Yesterday he was reading page 479, and here’s what he found, Throwing Darts at HR3200 – Day 4 (Birth of a New Entitlement)
The page selected for today’s post is page 479 of the House Bill, which contains the final paragraphs of the 19-page long Section 1302, “Medical Home Pilot Program.” As you will see, whether this is a “pilot” program or a “permanent” program depends upon what the meaning of “pilot” is (I think you know where I am going with this). We may be seeing in Section 1302 the birth of a new home health care entitlement.
Or today’s post, Throwing Darts at HR3200 (Cutting Hospital Readmissions), where he looks at page 294:
Suffice it to say that someone has spent a lot of time drafting a formula in Section 1151 to create an incentive for hospitals which have high readmission rates to lower those rates under threat of decreased Medicare payments. The key thing is that these calculations do not take into account whether any one particular patient’s readmission was unnecessary. Rather, this is a macro-level analysis of an entire hospital based on “excess” readmission rates.
And, by the way, the formula used is complex enough that Jacobson says,
Maybe a hospital administrator could follow the calculation and explain it in plain English, but I cannot.
So it is a good thing that “Obama Aides Aim to Simplify and Scale Back Health Bills.”
However, that’s not what the NYT article actually describes. Instead,
“It’s so important to get a deal,” a White House official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity in order to be candid about strategy. “He will do almost anything it takes to get one.”
Come to think of it, it makes perfect sense for the White House to make it look like they “Aim to Simplify and Scale Back Health Bills,” when it actually it’s all part of a sales pitch since, as Taranto (h/t Instapundit) put it,
We know July was a long time ago, but we distinctly remember back then that the administration was demanding that Congress pass ObamaCare before the August recess. And the president is only now getting around to telling us what ObamaCare even is?
And that’s a very good question.