[ Monday, March 23, 2009 ]


Slightly OT: The (so-called) Stimulus Bill. You can read below my somewhat extensive posts on the HIPAA provisions in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (sometimes called the Stimulus Bill, the Porkulus Bill, and various other names, but in the spirit of neutrality we call it ARRA). In putting this together, my associate Virginia Alverson wrote the piece on the financial incentives for adopting (and disincentives for failing to adopt) electronic medical record technology in the ARRA. She was having a very difficult time figuring out how some other commentators had come up with they dollar totals for the financial subsidies; the language of ARRA is insanely confusing, but she still couldn't track how some folks, writing for high-end audiences like Modern Healthcare, came up with their numbers, since they didn't match hers. So, she called the other authors, one of whom explained to her why her thinking was perfectly logical but incorrect: "You're looking at the printed version that came out of the House, not the version with the handwritten changes that was actually passed."

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, our Congress, the finest in the world, actually passed a bill that not only had nobody actually read, but NOBODY HAD EVEN FINISHED THE WORD VERSION AND PRINTED IT OUT!!! Now, I know that at one time all bills were probably hand-written, back, say, in the 18th century. But it's the 21st century. It may be too much to ask that our congresscreatures read the legislation before voting on it; but can't we at least get a good printed "final version" to look at before the voting begins? I guess not.

What does a partially-hand-written law look like? Like this. What's even more frightening -- click on the link within that blog (where it says "by clicking here") and just scroll through the bill and look at the numbers. $258,000,000 for frog spit research, $1,400,000,000 for lint removal technology, etc. The AIG bonuses are just a rounding error in this bill.

Speaking of which, that's exactly how the AIG bonuses got in this bill.

UPDATE: Does it matter that the entire bill violated Senate rules? Nah.

The country is in the best of hands.

Jeff [3:28 PM]

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