CAMLAW: Complementary and Alternative Medicine Law Blog

Health care reform legislation 1,000 pages later

Health care reform legislation is so dense it may be impenetrable, legal authorities say.

According to one report:

The push for transparency has become a running congressional side debate in Congress, with lawmakers — often minority Republicans, but some Democrats too — pressing leaders to post measures online for 72 hours before a vote.

"I don't think the American people can be left in the dark," House Minority Leader John Boehner, R-Ohio, said this week.

It might sound like a no-brainer. President Barack Obama has made transparency a watchword of his administration, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi pledged upon taking office to "create the most open and honest government in history."

The Internet makes it all possible.

So what's the problem?

Well, have you ever tried reading a bill.

They can be virtually unintelligible. Written in legalese and peppered with cross references to other laws or statutes that are never explained, they defy understanding by anyone without a law degree or years of legislative experience. Even lawmakers don't usually read the bills; that's what staff members are for.

"The minutiae of legal drafting is not necessarily related to understanding the concepts in the bill," said Rep. Earl Pomeroy, D-N.D., who certainly has had his hand in writing laws in nearly 20 years in the House.

"You could literally get lost in the forest for the trees" trying to read it, he said.

The impenetrability of legislative language is not in itself an argument against posting bills online and letting voters try to figure them out. That happened over the summer with the House's 1,017-page health care bill, with mixed results. Some sections of the bill were taken out of context or misunderstood, often to feed critics' political agendas. At the same time, there was a full airing of concerns that the legislation raised.

That's why it's important to have health care legal issues translated into plain English.  So that clients can understand from attorneys who understand health care law and regulation. It's easy to champion an idea for health care reform, more difficult to draft that idea into language. 

Michael H CohenMichael H Cohen
The Los Angeles / San Francisco / Bay Area-based Michael H Cohen Law Group provides healthcare legal and FDA legal & regulatory counsel to health & wellness practices and ventures, including health technology companies (medical devices to wearable health and nanotech), healthcare facilities (from medical centers to medical spas), and healthcare service providers (from physicians to psychologists).Our legal team offers expertise in corporate & transactional, healthcare regulatory & compliance, and healthcare litigation and dispute resolution, in cutting-edge areas such as anti-aging and functional medicine, telemedicine and m-health, and concierge medicine.Our Founder, attorney Michael H. Cohen, is an author, speaker on healthcare law and FDA law, and internationally-recognized thought leader in the trillion-dollar health & wellness industry.
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Michael H. Cohen, Esq.; 468 North Camden Dr. | Beverly Hills, California 90210 | 310-844-3173