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Creepy

Posted By Russ Roberts On February 9, 2009 @ 11:16 pm In Uncategorized | Comments Disabled

Betsy McCaughey appears to have actually read the spending bill (HT: Drudge [1]) and finds (page numbers from the pdf of HR1):

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.

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 [2] 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.

This is a bad idea. (Check out this podcast with Steve Lipstein [3] for the basics on the idea. It's near the end. He likes it. I don't.) But if you think it's a good idea, fine. Just don't bury it in a bill that's supposed to save the economy. Put it out in the daylight and let people debate it.

Are there only 36 Senators willing to oppose this bill?

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[1] Drudge: http://www.drudgereport.com

[2] HHS: http://www.hhs.gov

[3] this podcast with Steve Lipstein: http://www.econtalk.org/archives/2008/12/lipstein_on_hos.html

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