By Tom Curry National affairs writer
msnbc.com
updated 2/8/2010 11:11:34 AM ET 2010-02-08T16:11:34

Claim: The Democrats' health insurance reform plan would create around 150 new federal agencies.  

As President Obama said in his State of the Union address, the overhaul of the nation's health insurance system "is a complex issue." The Democrats' plan tries to accomplish several goals at once, among them: expanding insurance coverage, controlling the rate of increase in federal health care spending, making medical care more cost-effective, encouraging preventive treatment, and tightening the regulation of private-sector insurers. To do all this, the House bill grew and grew, until, by final passage last November, it had reached 2,016 pages in length. One of our readers says he heard that the bill would create 150 new federal agencies. Would it?

Fact or fiction?
Fiction. Reading the 2,016-page House bill, we were able to find 32 new agencies, task forces, advisory committees, and other bureaucratic creations. They range from a Comparative Effectiveness Research Commission to a Personal Care Attendant Workforce Advisory Panel. Some of the bureaucracy seems duplicative: For instance, the bill creates both a Native American Health and Wellness Foundation -- and a Committee for the Establishment of Native American Health and Wellness Foundation. The most important of the new entities will be the Health Choices Administration which will decide on insurance plan standards and administer subsidies to the estimated 20 million people buying insurance through the new electronic marketplaces. Apart from creating agencies, the bill would generate a huge amount of work for the secretary of Health and Human Services with dozens of new projects and grant programs.

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