Where Did the Affordable Care Act Come From?

Scott Adler and John Wilkerson:

In the 111th Congress, HR 3590 as introduced was titled the Service Members Home Ownership TAX Act of 2009. As enacted, HR 3590 was titled the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare. The legislative history of HR 3590 is unusual but by no means unique. It illustrates a widely appreciated but rarely studied point: bills evolve as they move through the legislative process. They pick up and shed policy provisions that can range from relatively small adjustments in language to complete bills (in the case of omnibus legislation).
The figure [below] illustrates a new text-based approach to systematically tracing the progress of policy ideas or provisions (as opposed to bills) in legislation. We use text reuse methods from computer science (think plagiarism detection) to trace similar language wherever it appears in legislation. Figure 1 is based on a comparison of section texts in introduced bills in the 111th Congress to section texts found in the enacted version of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).  A substantial number of ACA sections match sections in bills sponsored by other lawmakers (of both parties). One of these bills (HR 3692) became law after the ACA’s enactment, but apparently not before some of its original provisions found their way into the ACA.

Here’s the figure:


More at the post.  The paper is here.


2 Responses to Where Did the Affordable Care Act Come From?

  1. Andrew Gelman April 16, 2013 at 10:57 pm #

    I have to say, I’m not always such a fan of gimmicky infographics, but I like this one a lot. It’s crisp, clear, and the graphics really help make the point.

  2. Matt Jarvis April 18, 2013 at 11:20 am #

    I’m hoping that Scott & John will read this…

    Could you guys also use the same method and go back in time? Not too much; I’m thinking something like running ACA against the bills from the previous Congress, maybe also against the set of bills from ’93-’94 as well. That could get at the “origin” of the ideas in there.