That 1,990-page Democratic health care bill? It's longer now; includes new government controls
By: Byron York
Chief Political Correspondent
11/05/09 9:17 AM EST
It's become common practice to refer to the House Democrats' national health care bill as being 1,990 pages long. That's true of the bill introduced last week by Speaker Nancy Pelosi. But now Democrats have added a 42-page "manager's amendment" to the bill. Some of the new language in the amendment replaces material already in the bill, but there are enough new provisions to ensure that the bill is now more than 2,000 pages long. And there will likely be even more additions to the bill before the final debate.
What's more important is what is in the new amendment. Much of it reflects Democrats' concerns that their bill would cause an increase in health insurance premiums. Remember when the House leadership, the White House, and sympathetic media commentators everywhere attacked the insurance industry for predicting that the Democratic bill would cause premiums to go up? The manager's amendment is, in effect, the House Democrats' admission that it would do just that. Their answer: more government control. The new language sets up a process for the government to monitor "unjustified premium increases" and threaten insurance companies with exclusion from the government-run Health Insurance Exchange if they exhibit a "pattern of excessive or unjustified premium increases." The government, of course, will determine what is "excessive" or "unjustified."