By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
The former lieutenant governor of New York is warning the public that new health care rules that will adversely affect millions of Americans may have been intentionally hidden in the stimulus plan.
Betsy McCaughey, New York’s former lieutenant governor and an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute said in an opinion piece appearing on Bloomberg.com that the new provisions, many of which were written by Obama’s former pick as head of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Daschle, will affect “every individual in the United States.”
For instance, if the bill is passed, a new provision will require that everyone’s medical treatments 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,” McCaughey says, “But the bill goes further.”
A new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will then be able to 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,” McCaughey writes, adding that these provisions are virtually identical to what Daschle prescribed in his 2008 book, Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis.
The plan will also levy new penalties on hospitals and doctors that are not “meaningful users” of the new system.
“’Meaningful user’ isn’t defined in the bill,” McCaughey adds. “That will be left to the HHS secretary, who will be empowered to impose ‘more stringent measures of meaningful use over time.’”
The stimulus also establishes the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. The goal of this new council, according to Daschle’s book, 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, McCaughey writes.
Seniors will bear the brunt of these new rules, McCaughey says, because they will be forced to become “more accepting” of the conditions that come with age instead of expecting treatment.
Another serious concern is a provision in the stimulus bill that would require changes to Medicare. For example, Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective but the bill will require the application of a cost- effectiveness standard set by the Federal Coordinating Council.
“The stimulus bill will affect every part of health care, from medical and nursing education, to how patients are treated and how much hospitals get paid,” McCaughey writes. “The bill allocates more funding for this bureaucracy than for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force combined.”
Even more alarming, McCaughey says it’s no accident that this kind of radical health legislation is hidden in a stimulus bill. It was intentional.
“Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay,” McCaughey writes. “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.’”
McCaughey says this bill needs more scrutiny. “This stimulus is dangerous to your health and the economy.”
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