KITCHEN TABLE CHATS

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I have worn many labels (Not in any particular order): Catholic, Wife, Mom,Gramma, Doctor, Major, Soccer Mom, Military Wife, Fellow.

All of these filter my views of the world. I hope that like St. Monica, I can through prayer, words and example, lead my children and others to Faith.
"The important thing is that we do not let a single day go by in vain without putting it to good use for eternity"--Blessed Franz J├Ągerst├Ątter

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Is Anyone Listening?!

I keep writing about the health care commission authorized by the House stimulus package. Is anyone listening? Betsy McCaughey at Bloomberg .com has more information that is terrifying:

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.

But the bill goes further. 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). 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.

New Penalties

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” (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.

The stimulus bill does that, and calls it the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research (190-192). 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.

Elderly Hardest Hit

Daschle says 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).



The Federal Council will have the power to prohibit care to premature infants because their potential disabilities make their lives unworthy of preserving. This legislation will enable the federal government to deny care to the elderly simply because of their age.

This provision has no business being in an economic stimulus package. If this is such a wonderful idea, let's take it out from under the cloak of darkness and expose it to the light. Take it out of the stimulus package and debate it as a separate piece of legislation. Let its supporters defend its merits. Make its supports defend the scope of control over individual lives this plan is ceding to the federal government.

UPDATE: It is not just me. The Washington Times is also waving the warning flag about this deadly provision of the stimulus bill. Read "Health Efficiency Can Be Deadly".

Think of it, a centralized, federal database tracking your every visit to a health care provider - where you went, who you saw, what was diagnosed and what care was provided. Chilling. The immediate concern is privacy - traditionally these matters are between a doctor and patient, but now the federal bureaucracy will interpose itself into that relationship.

3 comments:

RAnn said...

I'm listening, and enjoying your comments. I despise the idea of giving the government any more power over my life or pocketbook than necessary.

I read several of your other articles about healthcare, including the one in which you noted that we should accept unequal healthcare in this country. How would you feel about a system like that proposed by Daschel, available to all for a percentage of income priced premium, with additional insurance available to those able to pay for it. To put it in more personal terms, how would you feel about a Medicare system that would deny your mother Gleevec as being too expensive; but where she could go to the supplement she purchased with her own money (or just use out of pocket funds) to get it?

Also, a question. Do you have any information on what is driving up the overall costs of healthcare? In other words, is treating sore throats, having normal pregnancies or providing well baby care costing a lot more than it has in the past? Are the increased costs spread across the board, or is the "problem" that we are doing so much more, and that more needs to be paid for?

Catholic Mom said...

RAnn,

I think you are close to what I think would be a reasonable system. The federal government provides a floor or safety net not a ceiling to health care.

I also think it is immoral to make judgments about the worthiness of a human life before offering treatment. Catholic teaching is that patients are not required to initiate or continue treatment that is excessively burdensome. The decision of what is excessively burdensome is made by the patient, not the state.

I also have to wonder if some of these provisions are being supported by lawmakers because they do not individually believe they will ever be in the group denied care. Sort of like the tax thing. They don't mind raising taxes because they don't plan on paying them.

In any case, stay tuned. Your questions have inspired a whole new post. Just not sure when I will have it up.

Shakespeare's Cobbler said...

The American Medical Association is denying the claims: http://www.ama-assn.org/ama1/pub/upload/mm/399/clarification-summary-hr1-2-10-09.pdf; it appears the bill has already passed at this point http://www.ama-assn.org/ama/no-index/news-events/senate-passes-economic.shtml; and so now time will tell if nothing else can... I pray the AMA can and will fight any such questionable work should one arise.

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