Labor Law Guy

Tom Daschle Lives On in the Stimulus Package

Posted in Federal Labor Law, Random Musings, State Labor Law by laborlawguy on February 10, 2009

Those who were fretting that the extinction of Tom Daschle as potential secretary of Health and Human Services might delay health care reform needn’t worry.

The inclusion of several stealth provisions in the stimulus package now sailing through Congress will implement, mostly unnoticed, provisions from Daschle’s government-heavy idea of reform in his book, Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.

His idea to prescribe which treatments and medications can and cannot be used by individual doctors lives on through the electronic health records (EHRs) initiative, which would be overseen by a National Coordinator of Health Care Technology. This latter person/office would monitor everything going on in the EHRs to make sure every doctor is following government guidelines and giving cost-effective care. And every doctor means your doctor.

Not only that, but the stimulus package includes the creation of a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research to define and dictate cost-effective care: What physicians and hospitals can and cannot do.

In other words, this is the stealth implementation of Daschle’s plan to create a board similar to the one in Great Britain that dictates every medicine and every procedure for every known medical problem so that they are both efficient and cost-effective (but most of all cheap). Now, on the surface, this sounds reasonable until you face the actual results as a patient.

The British agency Daschle fell in love with (with the totally disingenuous acronym of NICE) has done things like, well, forbidding treatment of macular degeneration because the medicine was too expensive until the patient went blind in one eye. (This policy was reversed finally after three years of public outrage.)

Betsy McCaughey, former lieutenant governor of New York and now an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute,  calls this “Ruin Your Health With the Stimulus Plan.” She explains:

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.

There’s little wonder, then, that President Obama continually and frantically insists that the stimulus package be hurried through Congress–he doesn’t want anyone actually reading it. As his chief of staff quipped, this is “no time to waste a good crisis.”

As these pages have been predicting since the git-go, the only way anybody in government–using government solutions–can make health care both “accessible and affordable” is by restricting and rationing what’s available.

Hey, if you successfully lower health care expectations, maybe enough people will start kicking off before they reach 65, and the government won’t have to pay Social Security or Medicare.

Nice plan.

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