Friday, October 30, 2009


House Democrats’ health care bill runs to 1,990 pages, costs $1.06 trillion, covers 96 percent of eligible Americans and demands the production of 42 studies on everything from whether post-partum screening should be required to using student loan programs to help recruit doctors.

The studies could be a blueprint for action by future congresses. They include looking at geographic disparities in Medicare, whether more services need to be provided for those who don’t speak English and the undercapitalization of nursing homes.

But studies are just part of the extensive reach of the measure, which Democrats introduced Thursday.

The word “report” appears 364 times and “tax” is used 214 times — and while some of those refer to bookkeeping such as tax years, the bill does raise several key levies, such as a “surcharge” of 5.4 percent on individual taxpayers who earn $500,000 or couples with incomes of $1 million.

Rep. Mike Pence, Indiana Republican, said the bill uses the word “shall” 3,425 times, which he said was an indication that a lot of new mandates are being imposed.

Among them is a requirement that chain restaurants print directly on their menus how many calories each item contains.

The bill also takes care of some long-languishing measures, such as reauthorizing the Indian Health Service, which has been kicking around for the past decade and was most recently held up by a fight over abortion.

The Congressional Budget Office says the bill will have a gross cost of $1.06 trillion but, with $167 billion in new penalty taxes imposed on businesses and individuals, the net cost is $894 billion.

It would mean 36 million more people would be covered than the status quo by 2019, and leave about 18 million without insurance. One-third of those left uncovered would be illegal immigrants.

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