States Visited

Wednesday, February 11, 2009


Okay, for just a few minutes I am going to stop using my brain and "believe" that the government must save us with some form of "stimulus" package. Okay, now we need some government spending to 'prime the pump' and 'jump start the economy.' Wooohoooo, lets start printing and borrowing money! We can start with some roads or some power plants or a giant bureacracy to monitor and determine all of our medical treatments or...waaaait...what?

As part of this little sweetheart deal that is going to save the economy, turn lead into gold, water into wine, and bring peace to the middle east, there are some (more) asinine grow-government-power, destroy individual freedom provisions that clearly have nothing to do with stimulating the economy.

Many thanks to former New York Lieutenant Governor Betsy McCaughey for bringing this to our attention in her column at

The numbers in parentheses indicate page numbers in the bill.

"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.'"

I'm going to pause for just a minute while you let that little piece of good news bounce around your head - the government is going to decide what medical treatments are appropriate and cost effective. Oh, this is going to be good. That just fills me with confidence. The largest group of criminals and incompetents on the planet will now be in charge of my medical treatments. Maybe my doctor will just ignore them...

"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)."

Or not. If the doctors and hospitals think they know medicine better than some bureaucrat or politician and don't play along the government will show up with guns. I can hear it now, "The system is voluntary." Yeah, just like the IRS. Cooommmmpletely voluntary. It just keeps on getting better.

"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."

Well, that makes perfect sense because researchers certainly know the results of the research BEFORE they conduct it. The last thing in the world that we need is some new medicine or technology to be developed that saves or improves the quality of lives. Good grief. What an idiot. Thank God the people that developed vaccines, anti-biodics, new surgery techniques and procedures, and the thousands of other advances in medicine over the years were smarter than this. If humans had always operated under this logic we would still have a life expectancy of about 40. But medical care would be cheaper! There is a certain level of stupidity that is almost breath-taking and this is a perfect example. Tom Daschle spent 8 years in the House and another 18 in the Senate and was, for a while, the Senate Majority Leader, and was on the verge of being appointed to Obama's cabinet. (As hard as this is to believe, he lied on his income tax returns - BIG TIME - and had to withdraw from nomination. Who would believe that we have a politician that passed tax law but felt it didn't apply to him? I digress...) This man, with the intellect of a lima bean, was in a position of power in Washington for 26 years.

"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."

So, let me see if I've got this straight - the healthier you are the quicker and more likely you are to receive treatment? That should certainly cut down on costs. "You, sir, with the pneumonia, get in the back of the line. We will get to you when we can. You two, with the splinter and the sunburn, come with me." This has all the makings of a Monty Python skit...

Behold the destructive power of politicians with limited intellectual capacity, the desire for power, and a willingness to spend other people's money on good intentions.

(emphasis mine)

Our moral desire to see all people receive quality medical care cannot and will not trump the laws of economics. Not now, not tomorrow, not ever. Medical care of the kind that we would call "high quality" is always going to be a limited resource - a resource that must, like all scarce resources, be allocated in some manner. In the end, that allocation can be done by the market, through prices, or by giving someone or some group the authority to dictate to everyone else. As Lord Acton pointed out long ago, power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely. The rich and powerful will get better care under both systems.

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