But don't forget that everyone agrees that health spending is already too high. So the stimulus also devotes $1.1 billion to create a new bureaucracy called the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. A billion dollars isn't nearly enough to conduct the rigorous clinical studies needed to provide more information on what medical treatments result in the best outcomes. But Democrats want to get this "health-care Fed" on the books now so it's around when they pass the next entitlement expansion -- for the entire middle class.
When government finances start to buckle under that subsidy, the comparative effectiveness outfit will start to ration care to control costs, much like the United Kingdom's National Institute for Clinical Excellence (NICE). The draft report accompanying the House portion of the bill notes that procedures and drugs "that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed."
In sum, what we are really getting in this stimulus bill are several more steps in the gradual government takeover of the health-care market.
George Will has some words about this new agency as well:
The stimulus legislation would create a council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. This is about medicine but not about healing the economy. The CER would identify (this is language from the draft report on the legislation) medical "items, procedures, and interventions" that it deems insufficiently effective or excessively expensive. They "will no longer be prescribed" by federal health programs. The next secretary of health and human services, Tom Daschle, has advocated a "Federal Health Board" similar to the CER, whose recommendations "would have teeth": Congress could restrict the tax exclusion for private health insurance to "insurance that complies with the Board's recommendation." The CER, which would dramatically advance government control — and rationing — of health care, should be thoroughly debated, not stealthily created in the name of "stimulus."
UPDATE: PLEASE SEE THIS POST FOR MORE OMINOUS INFORMATION ABOUT THIS NEWLY FORMED AGENCY.