‘Let’s Talk About Health Care.’ ‘Please, God, No!’

Dec 21, 09 | 8:25 AM   byMichael Wolff
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What is in the health care bill? The Senate version? The House version?

I have been looking through the coverage—the vast sturm und drang about it—and can’t find any news organization that has in any accessible way summarized the damn thing and made it easy reading.

In essence, we have a raging argument about a bill that no one, except maybe people with very peculiar interests, actually understands. On top of that, no final bill yet exists. We don’t know what’s in the House bill or the Senate bill, but now we have to reconcile them.

Even for the hot-button issues—like the public option and abortion funding and opting into Medicare (whatever that is)—you’d be hard pressed to find a neighbor or colleague or family member who could tell you just what the resolution has been.

The country is deeply polarized by a legislative overhaul, the details of which remain opaque to almost everybody. I’ll bet even most members of Congress haven’t the foggiest.

The guy who does my hair thinks it’s going to be murder on small businesses. That’s just about the most personal view I’ve heard about the bill. Most everybody discusses the bill (actually, most people don’t discuss it because they have no idea what’s in it) in terms of what it’s doing to do to everybody else, not what it’s going to do to them. That would be a lot more helpful and interesting. What do I get? What does my mom lose?

Do you know, for instance, if your kid who graduated from college last spring and who still hasn’t found a job will get covered under this bill? And for free? Or is it going to cost you? And your parent, on Medicare? Those home health aides? Yes or no? Not to mention those death squads—reasonably there’s got to be some rationing, or rationalizing, no?

The New York Times has been keeping a running chart of some of the issues and how they differ in the Senate and House bills, but it’s unreadable. The Times must be taking dictation from emotionally stunted congressional aides. Nobody’s giving it straight: a daily tally of the 10 major issues in the bill (for all I know there may be 50 absolutely vital issues—well, then, bring them on) and telling us what’s changing, what’s up for grabs, what we’ve got consensus on?

That the geniuses at the Times haven’t done this probably indicates they can’t. They don’t understand it either. Or are hopelessly bored by it and assume their readers will be, too (fair assumption).

It is, perhaps, a Democratic trick. Surround the bill with so much hot air and wonk talk and conflicting options that, in the end, most people throw in the towel. After all, the Democrats need to exhaust both conservatives and liberals—which they seem almost to have done.

Still, someone who can speak English is on top of it. Someone’s surely keeping track. What’s in the goddamn bill?

Please, somebody, spell it out and keep it simple. Tell me everything I need to know. But just what I need to know. And make it only about me.

More of Newser founder Michael Wolff's articles and commentary can be found at, where he writes a regular column. He can be emailed at You can also follow him on Twitter:
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