Reconciliation bill posted; Update: Shell bill

And it’s 2,309 pages long.  The House Budget Committee has to start its markup today to have any shot at getting it done by the weekend, which means that this version may change over the next few days:

House Democrats hope to complete their work by this weekend, before President Barack Obama begins an overseas trip he delayed for several days to focus on healthcare.

The package released by the committee runs 2,309-pages.

House Democrats have promised the bill would be posted online well before the eventual vote on the package.

The markup by the Budget Committee is the first step toward bringing the measure to the House floor.

The big question will be what the bill contains that makes it ineligible for reconciliation, if anything.  Any part not directly germane to budgeting should, according to the rules, have to go through normal Senate debate.  Republicans will want to find as many of these as possible to get the parliamentarian to rule against the reconciliation process.

On page 2099, the nationalization of the student-loan industry appears in the bill, as promised.  It’s difficult to tell whether that will create more problems for reconciliation by alienating Democrats worried about passing two government takeovers at once, or whether it’s a sweetener to convince some recalcitrant Democrats along who may have otherwise opposed the House changes to the Senate bill.  We’ll have to see how that plays this week, but the Democrats will have to deal with the sudden high visibility of the student-loan takeover, which has most flown under the radar thanks to the ObamaCare debate.

We need an “Army of Davids”, as Glenn Reynolds once wrote, to go through the bill and find the worst aspects of it.  Drop me an e-mail with the pertinent citations, and I’ll post them either in updates to this entry or in new posts later.

Update: Page 1557 has the Comparative Effectiveness Center:

(1) IN GENERAL.—The Secretary shall establish within the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality a Center for Comparative Effectiveness Research (in this section referred to as the ‘Center’) to conduct, support, and synthesize research (including research conducted or supported under section 1013 of the Medicare Prescription Drug, Improvement, and Modernization Act of 2003) with respect to the outcomes, effectiveness, and appropriateness of health care services and procedures in order to identify the manner in which diseases, disorders, and other health conditions can most effectively and appropriately be prevented, diagnosed, treated, and managed clinically.

Read the whole section, but pay attention to the composition of the panel, especially the last discipline:

(i) DIVERSE REPRESENTATION OF PERSPECTIVES.—The members of the Commission shall represent a broad range of perspectives and shall collectively have experience in the following areas:

(I) Epidemiology.
(II) Health services research.
(III) Bioethics.
(IV) Decision sciences.
(V) Health disparities.
(VI) Economics.

What is “comparative effectiveness”?  It’s a system of rationing scarce resources, and it has everything to do with economics.

Update II: According to Heritage and Philip Klein, this is a shell bill, not the actual proposed reconciliation bill.  It’s a copy of the version from last autumn.  Later this week, the House will gut this version and replace it with their new ObamaCare fixes.  However, the student loan nationalization will remain in the bill, so it’s not entirely old hat.