Secret Health Reform

The only time I hear something about what is in Health Care Reform is when it is being passed or voted on and I only here it from one network which scares me. The President promised a “new era of transparency” in Washington, so perhaps he should talk to the Senate about getting with his program. So far this has been a New Era of Secrecy not seen since Watergate. On July 15, six weeks ago, the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee passed an amended $1 trillion health-care bill, with acting Chairman Chris Dodd calling it a “historic achievement.” Too bad the committee won’t reveal this history even to other Senators, much less to the public.

Three weeks ago Republicans on the committee wrote Mr. Dodd “to reiterate our request for a full copy of the bill as amended, in the four-week mark-up.” Mr. Dodd has refused to comply. The Senate bill that is available on the committee Web site is 790 pages long. While that is some 300 pages shorter than the House health bill, that’s in part because it doesn’t include nearly 200 amendments that passed when the committee redrafted the bill. Amended sections of the bill might as well be written in invisible ink.

The whole process was so haphazard that at one point during the committee mark-up Barbara Mikulski, the Democrat from Maryland, declared: “Giving me language on little pieces of paper on which I’m going to commit the sacred fortunes and honor of the United States for decades, this is not the way to go. We can’t do this on the backs of envelopes.”

We called Mr. Dodd’s committee office last week to ask why the bill isn’t posted, and a spokesman explained that it is still being “worked on.” Will it be ready by October? “Don’t count on it,” the staffer said.

Meanwhile, President Obama has been saying that critics are “misrepresenting” his proposals. But who’s to know what’s reality and what’s a myth when the public and Members of Congress aren’t able to read a bill that would restructure one-seventh of our economy. We don’t have any idea what the bill will cost or how many people it will provide insurance for, because the Congressional Budget Office can’t score it. No wonder the public is increasingly skeptical of this entire exercise.

New Era of Secrecy of is a series of reports which focus on the Obama administrations renege on their campaign promise to have a transparent government.

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