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The Kennedy HELP bill (draft text)

[Welcome, Crooks & Liars readers! I know the material is a little dense, but I remember TARP, when that legislation was online, and I think digging into that helped the debate. So, health care policy wonks, do help us take a look at the sausage before it goes in the casings... --lambert]

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This book lists the sections of the Kennedy HELP bill draft ("Kennedy's Healthy Choices" bill is what my source calls it) in order. The text is a draft, and so sections may be missing, cross-references may not work, etc. That's why we have "markup" -- to fix that stuff (and, of course, to lard the bill with gifts to the health insurance companies).

You can use the table of contents (UP) link at the bottom of each post to get an overview of all the sections, or you can read through the bill in order by clicking on the RIGHT or LEFT links. The sections are grouped 0-9, 10-19, and so on (due to limitations in Drupal's book module)

I've tried to make each section into a post. Since these posts derive from a PDF file sent to me by a kind soul, and legislation is very complex, the linking, cross-referencing, and chunking is not all that it could be -- and there are also problems with the text, like punctuation and weird decisions that the PDF converter made. However, the script that does all this is very simple -- so if material is missing, it's by far the most likely explanation that it is simply not in the draft that I was supplied. Do feel free to supply missing pieces in comments.

If some even kinder soul -- staffer, whistleblower -- would like strike a blow for true open-ness and transparency, and send me the source XML for this bill, or any other bill, you may contact me at

So, here's the bill in blog form, so you can comment! Health care, have at it!

[One thing we might want to do in each comment thread is develop a paragraph or two that accurately describes what the particular section does. If we did this, we could take all of the paragraphs from the various threads and combine them in one place so we would have a handy section-by-section analysis of the entire bill. I don't think we need any formal divvying, just if you get to a section and are interested, take a stab at describing it. Just a thought - bdblue]

NOTE I did the Senate bill first, since it was the most egregious. A House bill will come soon.

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BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Has the committee prepared a section-by-section analysis. What this is, typically done by the committee, is a document that goes through each section of the bill and explains what it does. Here's an example from the Patriot Act. They are enormously helpful.

Now, if the HELP Committee hasn't done one and/or won't share, we could do our own. In addition to doing a standard section-by-section, you can also do one with comments. Where you have the objective section analysis (this section creates a health exchange. In each health exchange...) followed by a section of comments (Comment: What's missing from this section is X...).

One thing we could do to structure it is to post comments aimed at developing a section-by-section analysis. So that it evolves as people notice things, etc., but eventually they could all be put together into one comprehensive analysis document.

The main benefit of doing it this way is that it's organized. You don't have to read through 30 comments to understand what one section says.

Sorry, it's the lawyer in me. I do this sometimes at work (and if it were in my area, I could turn out a section-by-section in a couple of evenings, but it's not so I can't) and I think it's much simpler if you have some organization to it or a view towards an end product instead of just having comment on top of comment.

Just a thought.

Submitted by lambert on

If people want create posts, they can be put in the book next to the relevant section.

Otherwise, people can comment on the sections -- the headings give an indication of the subject matter, as they should.

As you know, legislation is complex, and so for me to autogenerate a more structured approach, I would have to have the original XML (which is disgracefully not available -- so much for open-ness and transparency). As it is, this conversion and Drupal-izing took most of the day for me (mostly the Drupal-izing) so the best I can really do, for now, is chunk the headings in bill order.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

Sorry for the confusion. What I had intended to suggest was that in posting comments, perhaps something we could aim for is to develop a section-by-section analysis. So that one of the goals of the comment thread would be to have in it somewhere just a simple description of what the section does. And then at the end, we could take the description from each and put it into one document, which I envisioned as a post, so we'd have it. If that makes any sense.

But that may be more than we want to do or more structured than people want to do it.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

I didn't in any way mean for you to do anything. I was actually trying to open up a discussion among those who will be commenting on what we might all do to get through the thing. But all I've managed to do is muck it up and create confusion, which was the opposite of my goal. Sorry about that.

Submitted by lambert on

I'm tired and cranky.

Look, as a Fellow, you've got access to the post at the top that introduces the book. I've never been good at divvying up stuff. If you've got a proposal, do feel free to add it right up top where people will see it first, like [ .... suggestion -- --BDBlue] I want to get the resource used!!

(Hipp, if u cn rd ths, feel free to do the same.)

Submitted by hipparchia on

i'm the dive in and let somebody else do the clean-up later kind of person myself, but i'm willing to try to organize my comments, with try being the operative word.

thanks for breaking it up into manageable chunks, and for removing it from pdf form. gotta go out for a bit, back later tonight.

BDBlue's picture
Submitted by BDBlue on

And, of course, nobody has to organize any of their comments. It was just a suggestion, probably born from having to read and analyze too many bills in RL (which never pass, btw, my in-box is the dustbin of history).

Submitted by hipparchia on

because if all we have to do to keep this from getting passed is to have bdblue read it.... ;)