Tuesday, February 10

Health Care in Stimulus Bill

Tom Daschle may have dropped out of the hunt for a cabinet position, but his handprints are all over the Senate's stimulus bill. Unfortunately, what has been unearthed from the bill in regards to our health care is just the type of thing we have feared.

First, health care is one of those lightening rod topics that should demand lengthy and in-depth deliberation and research before sweeping legislation would turn it on its head. But according to Bloomberg.com, this legislation hidden within the stimulas bill to avoid just the type of debate.

Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. “If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,” he said. “The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”
According to Bloomberg.com,

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” (445, 454, 479). 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.
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 (442, 446).
Unfortunately, for doctors and hospitals who choose to exercise their professional opinion without the blessing of the government strict penalties will be imposed (511, 518, 540-541).

What penalties will deter your doctor from going beyond the electronically delivered protocols when your condition is atypical or you need an experimental treatment? 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.
And if you think that all sounds bad, then just be glad you aren't elderly. Yet. According to Daschle,

Health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective. The stimulus bill would change that and apply a cost- effectiveness standard set by the Federal Council (464).

This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis.

Is this the type of health care system you want in the United States? Do you want a system that doesn't value all members of our society? When you are diagnosed with cancer, do you want some government worker making arbitrary decisions about your care? Do you want the government overriding your doctor's decisions?

If that type of health care is okay with you, then sit tight. But if that type of health care scares the socks off you, then you need to take action now. Read this to learn what you can do.


Jeff said...

Question #1: Why should we believe Betsy McCaughey's claims when her 1994 claims about the Clinton health care plan were shown to be so inaccurate? Can you provide a more reliable source, like the AMA, to substantiate her allegations?

Question #2: Putting aside the question of whether any of Ms. McCaughey's claims are accurate, how is health care by committee any different then the health care we already have? You must have a good HMO.

Natalie said...


What were her claims regarding Clinton's health care plan?

Second, these aren't Ms. McCaughey's personal assertations. She is quoting directly from the bill and from Daschle's book.

Regarding your second question... are you kidding me? How is nationalized health care different from the health care we have now??!!

Let's see what our friends to the north think about their nationalized health care system:

1. One of the major complaints about the Canadian health care system is waiting times, whether for a specialist, major elective surgery, such as hip replacement, imaging procedures such as MRI or Cystoscopy, or specialized treatments, such as radiation for breast cancer.

2. A March 2, 2004, article in the Canadian Medical Association Journal stated, "Saskatchewan is under fire for having the longest waiting time in the country for a diagnostic MRI—a whopping 22 months."

3. According to the Fraser Institute, treatment time from initial referral by a GP through consultation with a specialist to final treatment, across all specialties and all procedures (emergency, non-urgent, and elective), averaged 17.7 weeks in 2005.

3. In 2007, it was reported that Canada sent scores of pregnant women to the US to give birth.[50] In 2007 a woman from Calgary who was pregnant with quadruplets was sent to Great Falls, Montana to give birth. An article on this incident states, "There was no room at any other Canadian neonatal intensive care unit."

4. When Robert Bourassa, the premier of Quebec, needed cancer treatment, he went to the US to get it.

5. Champion figure skater Audrey Williams needed a hip replacement. Even though she waited two years and suffered in pain, she still did not get the surgery, because the waiting list was so long. So she went to the US and spent her own money to get the surgery.

6. A January 19, 2008, article in The Globe And Mail states, "More than 150 critically ill Canadians – many with life-threatening cerebral hemorrhages – have been rushed to the United States since the spring of 2006 because they could not obtain intensive-care beds here. Before patients with bleeding in or outside the brain have been whisked through U.S. operating-room doors, some have languished for as long as eight hours in Canadian emergency wards while health-care workers scrambled to locate care.

Jeff said...

Anecdotal stories are not evidence for anything. Why did Charlie Rose go to Europe for heart surgery? Why do uninsured Americans go to Canada for health care and prescriptions? Someone just told me the other day that he was having terrible back pain and the doctor told him it would be 3 months before he could get an appointment. He had to call a friend who knew the doctor to get in earlier. What does any of this mean? The fact remains that Europeans (and I think Canadians) are healthier than Americans. I'm not saying nationalization is THE answer, but it deserves more respect and consideration than a backhanded socialist slap, especially when our healthcare is so terrible and getting worse.

Regarding Ms. McCaughey's quotes, I can only find four quotes:

“If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it,”

“The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol.”

“every individual in the United States”

“guide” (not sure if this is an actual quote or a use of quotes to make a commentary)

The rest appears to be commentary, as far as I can tell. Who knows, maybe she is right, but I think we should be more cautious before concluding the stimulus bill "nationalizes" health care. That's a pretty big stretch.

Natalie said...

oh my word! You've got to be freakin' kidding me. You don't think that the government (not an insurance company) having access to your records and telling your doctors what treatment they approve of is nationalization!!!! Then you tell me what your definitition of nationalization is?

And, those quotes you are citing are not from McCaughey, they are from Daschle. Those are his words. Not hers.

Jeff said...

Right, that's my point. They are the only quotes in the article. The rest of the content is her commentary and characterizations. All I'm saying is, I have a hard time believing the stimulus bill "nationalizes" health care in the way that Ms. McCaughey and you seem to believe. If that's one of your chief objections to the stimulus bill, then perhaps we should have a better source than McCaughey. I'll check the AMA website to see if they say anything about it.

On a more important topic, how do you keep a Diaper Genie from stinking so badly?

Jeff said...

The AMA: Fifth Paragraph



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