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I was skeptical when my friend Milton insisted that none of the key elements of health care reform legislation would take effect for four years, thus rendering moot the charge by critics that coverage mandates would overburden businesses recovering from the current recession. Turns out Milton was right! That lag time should dramatically change the debate, except no one seems to know about this.

I asked our Washington Editor, Dave Postal, to check into this, and sure enough, the implementation timeline put out on July 14 by a trio of House committees shows that the launch of a public health insurance plan, the imposition of employer and individual coverage mandates (as well as penalties for those who do not willingly buy in), and bans on discriminating against individuals with pre-existing conditions would not kick in until 2013!

I don’t think many are aware of this critical point. My sense is that most people assume if President Barack Obama has an historic signing ceremony this year, health reforms will be in place in 2010. Not so!

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