Read the Baucus Health Care BillSeptember 23, 2009 - by Donny Shaw
Last week, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Sen. Max Baucus [D, MT] posted his much-anticipated health care bill for download in a bulky, unmanageable 223-page .pdf file. Basically, it was, the most uninviting and least accessible release possible for a bill that was about become the heart of Congress’ health care reform effort. As David wrote on this blog last week, it seemed like a release designed to ensure that the only people reading the bill would be health care lobbyists and D.C. insiders. It seems designed to keep the general public out.
Today, we’re implementing tons of improvements to the Baucus bill page that we posted last week, and it’s now just as readable and portable as any other bill in Congress we have on the site. But it’s taken us a full week to get this far. If Congress would release all legislation in a single, standardized manner, government transparency sites like OpenCongress and GovTrack could get bills online quickly for public review and feedback before Congress begins to act. The way the Baucus bill was handled, we’re getting it online in a usable format after the committee has already begun working on it. For an example of what the public can do with a bill released in a timely, standardized manner, see the thousand of comments the public has submitted, section-by-section, to the House health care bill.
It’s currently in mark-up in the Senate Finance Committee. You can watch a live webcast of it here.
Help us build public knowledge about this important bill moving through Congress by sharing the the link with your social network friends and blog readers. This bill could very well form the basis for the health care legislation that eventually becomes law, so it’s crucial that we start learning what’s in it and how it works.