Healthcare reform began like any other type of legislation: as a bill. The bill had to go through approvals by committee, the House, the Senate, and ultimately the President before it could be passed into law. During that time it underwent cuts, additions, and amendments. Initially, the bill clocked in at a whopping 2,700 pages at the time of passage, which sounds like a lot until you start looking at some of the legislation Congress routinely deals with. That said, the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was larger than most bills to begin with, but considering the scope of healthcare reform, this is understandable.
It was for this reason that a lot of confusion surrounded the contents of the ACA at the time it became a law. Even today, there are still arguments about what should and should not be included in Obamacare, with some debates reaching as high as the Supreme Court. Overall, there has been a hesitancy to take the time to read and understand the law in its entirety. Not only did many members of Congress admit that they hadn’t actually read the whole thing (or that they’d gotten the Cliff Notes version from aides), the Supreme Court justices actually balked at having to read the law after the fact, which is perhaps why the law was not only upheld, but there were no cuts to specific portions of the ACA.
The result was a lot of misinformation swirling around, both before the passage of Obamacare and in the weeks and months following the enactment of the law. The good news is that healthcare.gov has since taken strides to answer the many questions the public has about how this law actually works and how citizens can work within the system. With pages upon pages of explanatory content on their website, Americans can get answers to nearly any question simply by searching.
However, the passage of a law is not the final word on the matter. In the years since Obamacare took effect, the government has issued further regulations pertaining to the law. The ACA may only be 2,700 pages, but when you start to add in the regulations related to this law, the number of pages becomes astronomical. According to sources in Congress, the stack of rules, regulations, and proposed regulations amounts to somewhere in the neighborhood of 20,000 pages, although there is some debate about the exact number. Some say proposed regulations shouldn’t count while others claim some of the pages contain such small type font that they should constitute more pages.
Either way, it is clear that the ACA and attendant regulations make for some pretty heavy reading material. However, this is not unusual for such complex and wide-reaching legislation. Any law designed to control a system that affects all Americans is bound to require quite a bit of thought and accompanying documentation. So while it is unlikely that the average American will ever read Obamacare, at 2,700 pages or 20,000, it is clear that the Obama administration is trying hard to cover all bases where healthcare reform is concerned.
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