Health bill ‘shall’ bankrupt U.S.

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 2, 2009

You could hear the “kaplunk!” over the telephone line.

What was that I asked?

“The latest health care bill – all 1,990 pages of it,”Congressman Gregg Harper said.

The freshman congressman and I had been discussing the upcominghealth care legislation and its effects on the rest of us back herein Mississippi Thursday when the new bill was delivered to hisoffice.

I hope you are going to read it all this afternoon, I joked.

“We will be splitting it up amongst the staff and I will betaking a copy on the plane with me to read as I fly back toMississippi,” he retorted. “We expect a vote next week as early asTuesday.”

One thousand nine hundred and ninety pages may be hard tovisualize.

A ream of paper is 500 sheets and is 2 inches thick. One copy ofHB 3962 contains four reams of paper standing 8 inches tall, andholds the most far-reaching social agenda on health care in thisnation’s history.

Members of Congress are expected to not only read it, but alsocomprehend it and be in a position to vote on it next week!

The proper usage of the word “will” and “shall” has forever beendebated, but one thing is clear: the action item of the two verbsmeans “must.” Congressman Harper commented that a quick computersearch found that the word “shall” appeared 3,425 times in the1,990-page bill.

“That is a lot of “shalls,” he said.

Particularly frustrating for Harper is the fact that the entirediscussion on the bill has been held behind closed doors. Theoriginal bill, HR 3200, has been in the public view since lateAugust, and while the new bill has been pared down from 2,400pages, he said he did not know what changes were in the newversion.

What the congressman did know was that a government takeover ofhealth care is going to be bad for Mississippi.

He quoted a recent Blue Cross/Blue Shield study that found thatthose who currently have family health coverage would see a $3,869per year premium increase. The state of Mississippi, he said, willreceive a $200 million unfunded mandate that state taxpayers willbe required to pick up for the next 10 years.

“Think of the problem the Mississippi Legislature had this pastyear with just a $90 million Medicaid shortfall,” he quipped.

Harper commented that the original goal for health care reformwas to find a way to cover those without health insurance, butWashington is trying to do a blanket approach that is going toaffect everyone.

“We need to focus on insurance affordability for those who donot have it, without punishing those who do,” Harper said.

Solutions to achieving that goal, he said, could be as easy aseliminating pre-existing conditions, allowing insurance companiesto sell policies across state lines and give small business taxrelief.

The Republican congressman was quick to point out the problemswith other government-operated agencies such as the Medicaresystem, the Social Security system and the U.S. Postal system.

“Are we sure we want these programs as our business models?”

House Democrats feel they have the votes to bring out theirnewest health care bill and expect a vote as early as Tuesday orWednesday of next week. Harper is not sure they have the votes, asmoderate Democrats are pushing back.

“We have definite partisan opposition to the bill,” he said.

Meantime Harper and his staff are trudging through the 3,425″shalls” that are spread upon 1,990 pages of health carelegislation whose end result if passed will undoubtedly bankruptthis nation.

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven MS 39602,or send e-mail to bjacobs@dailyleader.com.