According to the Associated Press, many smokers were caught off guard by an obscure provision in The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. "Obamacare") allowing health insurers to charge smokers buying individual policies up to 50 percent higher premiums starting next Jan. 1.
Regardless of how you feel about the fairness or unintended consequences of that stipulation, one is compelled to wonder what OTHER penalties, taxes, regulations, waivers, agendas and pork barrel appropriations are lurking in the 2,700 pages of the far-reaching law. As the idiom says, "The devil is in the details." (No, literally. Beginning in 2015, hospital chaplains will be required to conduct cage fights with the Prince of Darkness and/or wash windows when room occupancy drops below 80 percent.)
That's not all. Dedicated volunteers helped me dig out the following items:
1. If you're electrocuted by "green" energy, go straight to the head of the line at the ER.
2. Hey, while you're digitizing those medical records, Senator Phogbound would really appreciate a bootleg copy of Adele's next single.
3. The pain chart is changed from a scale of "1 to 10" to a scale ranging from "I really shouldn't be tying up precious medical resources with my little problems" to "Please euthanize me and spare the world a lot of expense."
4. CPR standards are further relaxed. Chest compressions, lap dance - it's all good.
5. If your nose fails to light up when the surgeon touches the wrong organ during surgery, you can't sue for malpractice.
6. This act does not cover medications for the nausea you experience when you learn what sort of health care Congress receives.
7. The debt ceiling is automatically raised whenever a patient experiences an out-of-body experience, so the patient doesn't bump into the ceiling.
8. Federal funding is provided for the Sundance Film Festival documentary "Car Tragically Fails To Outrun Train; Curse You, Global Warming!"
9. Folk wisdom is changed to "An apple a day - from the apple-producing state with the largest electoral vote - keeps the doctor away."
10. The Federal Aviation Administration redesigns hospital gowns to make them more revealing.
11. Instead of name-brand pharmaceuticals or cheap generic knock-offs, Medicaid now urges patients to utilize a third category of medication: imaginary pills from imaginary girlfriends.
12. That's a nasty looking rash. Maybe we should just cryogenically preserve you and let your grandchildren deal with the problem.
13. If an ambulance driver finds traffic tied up in knots, he must find a gay Boy Scout to untie said knots.
14. By the powers vested in us by the Interstate Commerce clause, insulin intolerance is now outlawed and condemned to the scrapheap of history.
15. Prosthetic devices must be calibrated so there is a discernible lean to the left.
16. Ammunition magazines for opening child-proof lids may contain no more than 10 rounds.
Perhaps the biggest shocker was buried smack dab in the middle of the act. "So, in a code decipherable only by you, Nancy Pelosi, that was the exact location of the Lost Ark. This part of the message will self-destruct in 60 seconds. Are you SURE you read the whole 2700 pages, Nancy???"
- Danny Tyree's columns are distributed exclusively by Cagle Cartoons, Inc. (firstname.lastname@example.org)