With Mitt Romney officially entering the race for the Republican presidential nomination Thursday, expect to hear a lot more from the former Massachusetts governor on how the health-care legislation he signed in his state differs from that signed into law by President Obama for the nation.
One approach Romney has used to try to distance his health-care law from the federal Affordable Care Act is to say that his legislation only had 70 pages compared with 2,700 pages for the Obama-signed law.
The intended message is clear: his was a stream-lined, state-centric law while the federal law was a gargantuan monstrosity created by a power-grabbing federal government.
As Kessler points out, the federal legislation Romney refers to actually contained much language that had nothing to do with health care because what passed was actually two bills, the Senate version and a so-called reconciliation bill. Kessler writes:
Michael Cannon, director of health policy at the Cato Institute, gave us a copy of a consolidated version of the two bills. In other words, this is what the law would have looked like if it had been written in the usual way. This version clocks in at just 907 pages.
Cannon is a critic of both laws and thinks that page length of a bill can be a telling indicator, showing a "potential for mischief." But he estimated that the section of the national law that directly compares to Romney's law is only about 200 pages of the 907-page version.
Okay, 200 pages is still more than 70, right? Not necessarily. When Romney signed the bill, the Boston Globe reported that it was 145 pages long. There's not much difference between 200 and 145 pages. Perhaps Romney is now using double-sided paper?
This and more led Kessler to conclude:
Comparing pages in different bills is silly, especially in this case. An apples-to-apples comparison suggests there is virtually no difference in page count between the relevant parts of the two laws—and that is not even accounting for the fact that "Romneycare"covers just one state and "Obamacare" covers an entire country.