Taxpayers Group Objects To Coercive Health Plan Proposal

Taxpayers Group Objects To Coercive Health Plan Proposal

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Words matter. They really do.  As does the lack of using the right words too.

National Taxpayers UnionThe National Taxpayers Union Foundation (NTUF), a nonprofit, nonpartisan citizen group founded in 1969 to work for lower taxes, smaller government, and economic freedom at all levels, has taken a close look at the proposed health plan initiative and found certain words lacking.  The NTUF determined that the words “choice,” “options,” and “freedom” appear just 85 times in the mammoth 1,018-page legislation, while three restrictive words — “require,” “limit,” and “must” (and variations) — were nine times more prevalent.

Words Or The Lack Thereof

“Words don’t always have a lot of meaning inside the Beltway, but if the language of the ‘America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009’ is a guide to its true intent, then the bill is really about empowering bureaucracy and limiting freedom, competition, and the marketplace,” said NTUF Director of Congressional Analysis Jeff Dircksen. Among his findings:

  • The legislation envisions a very busy bureaucracy. The term “Secretary” — as in the Secretaries of Health & Human Services, Labor, Defense, and Veterans Affairs — appears 1,124 times in the bill. The Secretaries — along with Commissioners (199 references), Committees (76 references), and Boards (17 references) — would be “reporting” or making a “report” or “reports” (427 references), developing methodologies, and receiving recommendations as well as administering the plan’s provisions.
  • Language suggesting a new patient-centric approach is relatively scarce. The terms “consumer-driven,” and “patient-driven” as in consumer-driven and patient-driven choices in health care, do not appear in the bill. And while the words “benefit” and “benefits” appear 375 times, “choice” and “options” appear just 85 times combined. Even “marketplace” — a term that the President has used to describe the so-called public option — appears just 3 times, as does the term “competition.” The word “freedom” is nowhere to be found.
  • Variants of the words “require,” “limit,” and “must” appeared a total of 708 times. Terms describing the consequences of failing to abide by the bill — “penalty,” “enforce,” and “sanction” — showed up in 225 places.

Grammatical Sources Consulted

Dircksen consulted grammatical resources to construct a list of terms that most closely reflected the principles of consumer choice and patient-centered care proponents of the health care plan stressed, along with their opposites. He also sought terms that would reflect who would have a role in the health care decision-making process. Dircksen then searched the bill’s text for these words.

Source: National Taxpayers Union

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