Posts on health care reform have gotten into a lot of wonky subjects such as the insurance exchange, a variety of plans lumped together under the label “public option,” and details of how the system currently works from the inside. Now that the House bill has passed it seems like a good time to point out his trivia in evaluating the bill.
There have been a lot of comments that the bill is long, which I certainly will not argue with after trying to wade through multiple proposed House and Senate bills in addition to the current one. Length is hardly the key factor in evaluating a bill, but there is an interesting take on this at Computational Legal Studies. They argue that “simple page count vastly overstates the actual length of bill” and turned to word count instead. They counted 363,086 words (including titles, tables of contents, etc.) and further narrowed this to 192,531 words which impact substantive law. This falls in the neighborhood of a Harry Potter novel:
Number of substantive words in H.R. 3962: 192,531 words
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - 257,000 words
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire - 190,000 words
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – 198,000 words
How much of the bill will need to be cut for the movie version?
This was also compared to the full US Code:
Size of the United States Code: 42+ Million Words
Relative Size of H.R. 3962: H.R. 3962 is less than 1/2 of one percent of the size of the United States Code
I’m not sure that this is a meaningful argument to minimize the impact of its size. It seems that 1/2 of one percent might be pretty substantial for a single bill. To evaluate this it would help to know how many laws are included in the full United States code and what their typical size is. Regardless, it is not surprising that a bill which handles something as complex as health care coverage would be on the long side.