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Saturday, May 4, 2013

Good news about a simplified, shortened U.S. government form

The U.S. Health and Human Services Department announced some good news this past week--good news about the value of clear, concise writing and design--in the creation of a government form for use by citizens. 

The announcement is also good news about responsible efforts to aid implementation of the U.S. Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. 

As summarized in this article from Government Executive:
The Health and Human Services Department team implementing the Affordable Care Act on Tuesday unveiled a shortened and simplified application form to enter state health insurance exchanges established by the law. ...
Other comments on the new form:

Marilyn Tavenner, acting administrator of HHS’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services:

Consumers will have a simple, easy-to-understand way to apply for health coverage later this year. The application for individuals is now three pages, making it easier to use and significantly shorter than industry standards. This is another step complete as we get ready for a consumer-friendly marketplace that will be open for business later this year.
Health-care activist Ron Pollack, executive director of Families USA:
With tens of millions of uninsured people eligible for new help in securing affordable health coverage – either through substantial premium tax credits that will make private health insurance much more affordable or through the expansion of Medicaid – it is crucial that the enrollment process is as simple and consumer-friendly as possible. The new, improved forms are a huge step in that direction.
The article also reports on related comments by President Obama and some Republican critics of the Affordable Care Act.

I figure developers of the new form are members of the U.S. Plain Language Action and Information Networka government-wide group of federal employees working to improve communications from the government to the public. The group's website provides Federal Plain Language Guidelines for use by employees, but the advice is also helpful for other people who want to improve their writing and editing.

You can get more information on plain language at my website, Garbl's Plain English Writing GuideCheck out its pages  to learn how to improve your writing skills by using plain English techniques:
  • Focusing on your reader and purpose
  • Organizing your ideas
  • Writing clear, effective paragraphs
  • Writing clear, simple sentences
  • Using suitable words
  • Creating an enticing design
  • Testing for clarity.
The article is featured today, May 4, in my daily online paper, Garbl's Plain English Paragraphs, available at the Plain Language tab above and by free email subscription.

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