What Does ‘Flush’ Have to do With it?

-By Vince Johnson

I’ve spent four days in a state of deep confusion trying to comprehend the Senate version of the health bill which is now viewable on Internet. It is 2,079 pages of Senatorial gibberish such as you can see in 106 words from Page 1,760 as quoted below

“(2) PART B.—
(A) Section 1842(b)(3) of such Act (42
U.S.C. 1395u (b)(3)(B)) is amended—
(i) in subparagraph (B), in the flush language following clause (ii), by striking1761
‘‘close of the calendar year following the year in which such service is furnished (deeming any service furnished in the last 3 months of any calendar year to have been furnished in the succeeding calendar year)’’ and inserting ‘‘period ending 1 calendar year after the date of service’’; and (ii) by adding at the end the following new sentence: ‘‘In applying subparagraph (B), the Secretary may specify exceptions to the 1 calendar year period specified in such subparagraph.’’

The word “flush” appeared in the text and this made me curious. This web page has a feature where you can search the entire text for any word or phrase in the document and get the results in a split second. So I searched the word “flush” and discovered it appeared 9 times in the bill.

I wondered what 100 Senators meant by the word “flush” so I looked it up in the dictionary. I found 15 different definitions none of which gave me a clue regarding how the Senate might define the word “flush” in a bill devoted to health insurance. “Flush” has several meanings that make sense to me including the following: To blush; a good hand in poker, to be at the same level like “flush” with the counter top and of course, from those days when I was a kid when Mom would yell out “Don’t forget to flush it.”

I checked the phrase “women’s health” and found it appeared 46 times. So I checked “men’s health” and was flabbergasted to discover this term doesn’t appear even once. I scanned “abortion” and found that it appeared 14 times. I tried to figure out if this bill included or omitted abortion coverage and decided the wording was too fuzzy to be certain one way or the other. I have a hunch the “fuzziness” is intentionally ambiguous, but who really knows?

The word “physician” appeared 153 times and “surgeon” appeared 34 times. “The Secretary” appeared 2,173 times. The math here is interesting. Every time “Physician” or “Surgeon” appeared once, “The Secretary” appeared eleven times. “Internal Revenue” came up 104 times. Egads! Are these clues about who will really be running the show?

The word “Subclause” appeared 146 times. “Subparagraph” appeared 603 times. “Subsection” appeared 1,703 times. In each case, the word was a cross reference to another part of this bill or a part of another Act already in force. This means that a true and knowledgeable understanding of this bill would require time consuming analysis of 1,703 cross-references to text that may require reference to other text on other pages in other acts currently in force. Impossible!

The bill is already 2,076 pages long. When the 1,703 cross-references are included, each Senator would have to read and re-read 3,779 pages of their own gibberish before he or she could honestly say they understand the bill with sufficient understanding to make an intelligent vote.

To sum it up: If I had the chance to ask a Senator a few questions, I’d start with this one: How does the Senate define the word “flush” and why was it used nine times in this bill? If I didn’t get an answer, I would ask some other questions that are really bugging me:

In a bill entitled “Quality, Affordable Health Care for All Americans” why is the phrase “women’s health” used 46 times, and “men’s health” does not appear even once? Should this omission be considered a gesture of absolute contempt for the millions and millions of men who will vote in the next two elections? Or was this just another oversight needing explanation and amendment?
Vince Johnson welcomes comments. Please send them to,Vince Johnson(vjadtrak@wvi.com)
See Vince in the new book Americans on Politics. Policy, and Pop-Culture.

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