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September 8, 2009

Understanding the Bills

Quote of the Day: “If Conyers, the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, needs a lawyer’s help to understand the health care legislation, what chance does the average citizen have of deciphering the bill?”- Press-Enterprise editorial (Riverside, CA)

Subject: Understanding the Bills

Many Americans are doing what Congress won’t do — they’re actually reading the healthcare bill!

* On September 2, a team of 38 people took part in a public reading of the bill in Scranton, PA.
* And allows people to hear the bill read online

These efforts are well-intended, but how many people can actually understand what they read? One individual read the bill but couldn’t understand it, and went to a Town Hall meeting to get answers. He came away from the meeting saying the bill was “still foggy” in his mind.

How about you — would you understand the bill if you read it? See for yourself.

Here’s just one section:


(a) Clarification Regarding Application of Guaranteed Renewability of Individual Health Insurance Coverage- Section 2742 of the Public Health Service Act (42 U.S.C. 300gg-42) is amended–

(1) in its heading, by inserting `and continuation in force, including prohibition of rescission,’ after `guaranteed renewability’; and

(2) in subsection (a), by inserting `, including without rescission,’ after `continue in force’.

To understand this provision you’d also need to know what 42 U.S.C. 300gg-42 says. And this isn’t an isolated case; the United States Code is referred to or revised a whopping 439 times in a 1,017-page bill!

Fortunately,’s One Subject At A Time Act (OSTA) has anticipated this problem. OSTA’s main purpose is to prevent unrelated, unpopular bills from being bundled together with popular or must-pass bills. But it also contains a provision requiring all bills to include the full text of any part of existing law that will be amended by the bill.That way both Congress and the public will know exactly what’s being changed.


Please send Congress a letter asking them to pass’s “One Subject at a Time Act.”

Use your personal comments to mention that citizens all over America are reading the healthcare bill and finding it impossible to understand. If you want, you can cut and paste the SEC. 162 example into your message. Tell them this kind of thing makes you doubt that they really understand what the healthcare bill would actually do. Point out that OSTA would solve this problem by requiring all bills to include the full text of any part of existing law that the healthcare bill amends.

You can send your message here.

We also recommend that you send a second message to Congress. Demand that they introduce the Read the Bills Act. Remind them that this issue isn’t going away, and that they’ll really feel the heat if they pass a healthcare reform bill without reading it. You can send that message here.

Read the Bills Act Coalition. This week we welcome seven new members to the RTBA Coalition:

Click here to join.

Thank you for being a DC Downsizer.

James Wilson
Assistant to the President

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