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A Bureaucratic Nightmare

August 3, 2010

Have you tried counting the number of new agencies, boards and commissions created under Obamacare? Don't waste your time. The Congressional Research Service (CRS) recently released a report that claims such an estimation would be "impossible" and "unknowable." Why? According to Politico (and previously mentioned in multiple NTU blog posts), the provisions of the law vary dramatically and many of its details are yet to be determined, much less released.

Politico writes: "The law says a lot about some of them and a little about many, and merely mentions a few. Some have been authorized without instructions on who is to appoint whom, when that might happen and who will pay." Confusing, I know, but that means a number of agencies are in an interminable waiting period until they receive further instruction, and then there are others that have the authority to spawn new organizations if just one entity is insufficient. CRS says the Patient-Centered Research Institute "'may appoint permanent or ad hoc expert advisory panels as determined appropriate.' How many such panels will be 'determined appropriate' by the institute is currently unclear." How can a bill that's 900+ pages long possibly be this ambiguous?

Politico goes on to assert that the law's lack of specificity could result in more complicated congressional oversight. I'd venture to say it could result in little to no congressional oversight! One example, as presented in the CRS report, is the Government Accountability Office (GAO). Obamacare requires the GAO to appoint at least 83 new members to six new boards, but how can they be accurately and independently audited when the U.S. comptroller general has appointed their members? For those of you still questioning this potential conflict of interest, remember that the comptroller general is chief leader of the GAO.

The Politico article explains the debate in greater detail, so I encourage you to give it a read. One thing is for certain: we have no real picture of how Obamacare will affect us now and down the road. It could be years before these provisions are fully enumerated…maybe longer.


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