Monday, March 02, 2009

Shut Up and Take Your Medicine

The O.G.M. (Office of Government Meddling) seems to think they know more about how to treat us than our doctors do. It's bad enough that Washington wants to take all our money and spend it for us, now they want to control health care as well.

If you have never heard of the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, you need to take notice.

According to the site, the NCIH performs the following tasks.

Health information technology (Health IT) allows comprehensive management of medical information and its secure exchange between health care consumers and providers. Broad use of health IT will:
Improve health care quality;
Prevent medical errors;
Reduce health care costs;
Increase administrative efficiencies;
Decrease paperwork; and
Expand access to affordable care.

Interoperable health IT will improve individual patient care, but it will also bring many public health benefits including:

Early detection of infectious disease outbreaks around the country;
Improved tracking of chronic disease management; and
Evaluation of health care based on value enabled by the collection of de-identified price and quality information that can be compared.

All sounds well and good.

But now look at what Betsy McCaughey opines at

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.
Even this sounds benign, but it get's worse.

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.
Even though Mr. Daschle is not the HHS head, does not mean his fingerprints will not be all over any health care initiative coming from Washington. Kind of makes you wonder why the Prez is so adamant about EHR/EMR.

The Federal Council is modeled after a U.K. board discussed in Daschle’s book. This board approves or rejects treatments using a formula that divides the cost of the treatment by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Treatments for younger patients are more often approved than treatments for diseases that affect the elderly, such as osteoporosis.

In 2006, a U.K. health board decreed that elderly patients with macular degeneration had to wait until they went blind in one eye before they could get a costly new drug to save the other eye. It took almost three years of public protests before the board reversed its decision.
This almost has a Star Chamber quality to it.

Of course there is a positive to all this. If you want to control health care spending, the easiest way is to deny coverage for treatment. Rationing always works.
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