I am not in the habit of using chat and text messaging acronyms or abbreviations. On the last day of this year, however, I found an appropriate use for LOL while reading the newspaper with my morning coffee. That is what I did, loud and abrupt enough to startle the cats.
My guffaw was perhaps a tribute to the acumen of former and unlamented House Speaker Nancy Pelosi in observing that it was necessary to pass the Obamacare, or ACA, law in order to find out what’s in it. How true that observation was.
According to wire reports related in various newspapers and other media today was this gem:
“The words were tucked deep into the sprawling text of President Barack Obama’s signature health-care overhaul. Under the headline, “Protection of Second Amendment Gun Rights,” was a brief provision restricting the ability of doctors to gather data about their patients’ gun use — a largely overlooked but significant challenge to a movement in American medicine to treat firearms as a matter of public health.”
“The deal to add gun language to the health-care bill was struck so quietly that several top officials in the Obama administration and in Congress had no idea the passages had been added until approached by The Washington Post last week.
“A White House official, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity [naturally], said the provision was ‘added into the health-care bill on the Senate floor.’ For explanation on what happened, the official added, ‘I’d send you to the Hill.’”
The provision was added at the request of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, no less. For all of his other faults, Reid has been, up to this point anyway, an ally of the National Rifle Association and supporter of Second Amendment rights. It’s on page 19 of the statute as enacted and signed and available at this link if anyone is interested. http://www.ncsl.org/documents/health/ppaca-consolidated.pdf
The NRA is reported to have asked for the provision to ensure that gun ownership would not be a an excuse for increasing medical insurance premiums. I’m not sure I buy that, at least not entirely, because other parts of the Act would seem to preclude such. More to the point, while it does not invade physicians’ province in the practice of medicine – if they believe it’s medically necessary or appropriate they can ask it and the patient can decline to answer – it seems a obstacle to the creation of a national database of gun owners by subterfuge. This is a valid concern for us all.
The attempt to define a political issue as one of national health is also of serious concern. This has been a ploy of totalitarian and authoritarian regimes throughout history. The Soviets in Russia famously locked up dissidents as “mental cases” and the National Socialists in Germany made similar pseudo-medical excuses for locking-up or exterminating members of disfavored groups. In earlier, cruder times witches hunts and pogroms were excused in the name of public health, as it was understood at the time.
Be all the above as it may, however, the really outrageous aspect of the entire Obamacare fiasco is the manner in which it was enacted. The link provided above is a document that is 907 pages long in Adobe Acrobat .pdf. I do not know if any member of Congress read the entire bill, or understood the ramifications of the various parts they were voting on. Perhaps some staff members did and wrote executive summaries, but I doubt that any Representative or Senator actually read the bill in its entirety (If anyone who knows one who did, I’d like to know). There is something fundamentally wrong with a legislator voting to enact a law that we all have to live under that is so long, involved, and complicated, and which they do not fully understand. It is true that medical care delivery and funding is immensely complicated, but that is because there is already a hodgepodge – calling it a system is laughable – of complex laws and regulations dealing with delivery of medical services. Part, if not most, of the complexity is a result of the legislative process itself. To obtain votes for passage, provisions are included to appeal to lobbies of interest groups that may not have anything to do with the main purpose of the bill, or do so pertain but are put in to assuage influential members of Congress. Furthermore, the President does not have a line item veto – he must accept or reject the entire bill.
Of course, it this instance it would not have mattered. If the bill had a provision that required any imaginable silly thing, President Obama would have signed it. He did so notwithstanding intervening special elections that clearly expressed public displeasure with the process, if not the substance of the bill.
Since I have family members and close friends who are members of the medical and health care community, I hear about some of the – I hope unintended – effects of the Obamacare legislation that already are appearing. The chickens are starting to come home to roost; the hen-house will be full in 2014.
What is really ironic is that one of the consequences of the Act that few read and nobody understood at the time is that one of the left’s signature pieces of legislation strikes in favor of the Second Amendment rights, something they loathe. For the rest of us, though, it’s a comic relief – laughing out loud so we do not similarly cry.