NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


February 12, 2009

Former Senate Majority Leader Tom Daschle's fingerprints are all over the items concerning health and health care included in the "American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.″  Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health, says Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York and an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.

The bill's health rules will affect "every individual in the United States."  Your medical treatments will be tracked electronically by a federal system.  Having electronic medical records at your fingertips, easily transferred to a hospital, is beneficial.  It will help avoid duplicate tests and errors.  But the bill goes further, says McCaughey:

  • One new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective.
  • The goal is to reduce costs and "guide" your doctor's decisions; these provisions in the stimulus bill are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, "Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis."
  • According to Daschle, doctors have to give up autonomy and "learn to operate less like solo practitioners."

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far, says McCaughey:

  • Hospitals and doctors that are not "meaningful users" of the new system will face penalties. "Meaningful user" isn't defined in the bill.
  • That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose "more stringent measures of meaningful use over time."

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment, asks McCaughey?  The vagueness is intentional.  In his book, Daschle proposed an appointed body with vast powers to make the "tough" decisions elected politicians won't make.

The stimulus bill does that, says McCaughey, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research.  The goal, Daschle's book explained, is to slow the development and use of new medications and technologies because they are driving up costs.  He praises Europeans for being more willing to accept "hopeless diagnoses" and "forgo experimental treatments," and he chastises Americans for expecting too much from the health-care system.

Source: Betsy McCaughey, "Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan,", February 9, 2009.

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