ALG Calls for "Real Transparency" in Health Bill Provisions With Website Allowing "Public Review and Comment"

"The final version of the health bill should be posted on the Internet for 14 days

before any procedural votes begin. The American people need the time to weigh

in on what is actually the eighth version of the government health care takeover."

ALG President Bill Wilson

January 11th, 2010, Fairfax, VA—Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson today called upon leaders of the Senate and House to "implement real transparency" and to "post the final version of the health care takeover on the Internet for 14 days prior to any votes."

"In the age of the Internet, Congress should be able to get the final bill up on government websites for a legitimate public review and comment period lasting two weeks, where constituent comments would be directly forwarded to the people's Senators and Representatives," Wilson said.

"There is too much at stake," Wilson said, adding, "this is a bill that will nationalize one-sixth of the American economy, downgrade research and development in the medical sciences, take private options away from patients forcing them onto a government-run plan, ration health care away from seniors, and bankrupt the Treasury."

"The American people have a right to know exactly what's in the final version of this bill before Congress takes it up again," Wilson declared, noting that "Nobody will know what the secret deliberations between Senate and House leaders will produce until the bill is posted publicly."

Wilson said a Senate deal reached to secure Senator Ben Nelson's (D-NE) support for a government "takeover" of the nation's health care system "highlights the need for real transparency in the nation's legislative processes."

The deal would require every state except Nebraska to pay for the cost of expanded Medicaid eligibility (up to 133 percent of the poverty level) under the legislation. 

The deal, which Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-CA) called a "bribe," is worth at least $45 million to Nebraska over the first ten years of the bill, according to the Washington Times.

Wilson said that "with real transparency, such an unseemly deal would never be allowed to occur," and today along with 23 other free market and limited government leaders called on Senate and House leaders to take up C-SPAN's offer to televise negotiations reconciling both versions of the legislation, fulfilling a campaign promise made by Barack Obama.

According to the letter, Obama "has broken a campaign promise he made multiple times that healthcare negotiations be public and broadcast on C-SPAN. The president's broken promise indicates a lack of transparency in his administration and sends a clear signal that he is hiding details of the bill from the American people." 

The 24 leaders noted that Obama "made such a promise at least eight times, yet it was reported last Tuesday that the Democrat congressional leadership will bypass the traditional conference committee process."

Wilson said the broken C-SPAN pledge was "just the tip of the iceberg," and that "the American people need the time to weigh in on what is actually the eighth version of the government health care takeover."

Wilson said the eight versions of what he dubbed "ObamaCare" were: 1-3) three House committee versions; 4) HR 3200, the House passed version of "public option"; 5) Baucus co-ops, the Senate Finance Committee version; 6) the Senate "public option," which Senator Joe Lieberman and other lawmakers objected to; 7) the Reid substitute that the Senate passed, and 8 ) the current House-Senate version that Congressional Democrats are now meeting on to discuss.

"This is too much for the American people to keep up with," Wilson explained.  "The biggest advantage this bill presently has is its intentional ambiguity.  Every time they create a new bill with new provisions, once the details get out, it proves unpopular, and so they go back to the drawing board with yet another bill."

That is why Wilson said the final version should be posted on the Internet for two weeks prior to any votes.  "With a sufficient period for comment by the American people, there will be no question as to where they stand on a bill that threatens to take over one-sixth of the American economy by government."

Based on what they currently know, voters are opposed to the bill, according to Rasmussen Reports.  In the organization's latest poll, some 55 percent of likely voters are opposed to the legislation, which only 40 percent support. 

Wilson said that a two-week comment period could actually help lawmakers to develop support for the measure, "if that were their goal."

"National polls have shown overwhelming opposition to this legislation for months on end," Wilson noted.  "A major reason for that has been the lack of transparency: the secret deals for Nebraska and Louisiana; the fuzzy numbers used to manipulate CBO budget scoring to achieve a 'deficit-neutral' score; the use of the Medicare Independent 'Advisory' Board for health care rationing away from seniors; and the upward pressure the bill will place on health premiums that Congress does not want you to know about."

"Overall, the public is getting the sense that Congress is trying to pull a fast one on the American people," Wilson said, concluding, "Instead, here's a novel idea: why not be transparent about what's actually in the bill and let it pass or fail on its merits?"