Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Ranting and Rambling

Last night I watched the press conference of President Obama with a mixture of contempt and jealousy. Contempt for his message and jealousy for the democrats having a president who is capable of feeding them crap and telling them it is chocolate while the media watched the performance with expressions of ecstasy.

For the last eight years, every press conference was in a prosecutorial tone with the reporters demanding follow-ups to cross-examine the answers. Last night, with the exception of the AP reporter who asked Obama about “talking down the economy,” the rest asked questions that basically gave Obama a platform to push his stimulus plan or socialist agenda. You pick the definition.

Looking at the sitting arrangements at the conference, I asked myself who was the gentleman sitting next to the “so called” cadaverous Helen Thomas. Of course he looked familiar! This was progressive Ed Schultz, the liberal equivalent of Rush Limbaugh without the ratings or the brain. I am trying to imagine the headlines if President Bush had placed reporters from major media outlets in the second row, while placing Rush Limbaugh and Sean Hannity in the first row.

By the way, I placed “so called” next to Helen Thomas’s name because of her tendency to use the qualifier “so called terrorists” whenever she is asking questions about the Middle East.

Obama did a good job of ignoring her second part of the question when she asked him whether he knew if any country in the Middle East possesses nuclear weapons. Let me answer this question: Yes Helen, Israel possesses nuclear weapons. Eat you heart out!

In the midst of the world is coming to an end without a stimulus package, the reporter from the Washington Post reporter asked the president about A-Rod. Talk about priorities.

On another subject:

One item that I hope the Republicans bring to light is the hidden Daschle agenda in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 HR 1, in pages 445, 454 and 479. This segment of HR1 deals with health issues and is designed to introduce nationalized medicine into the United States. The first part deals with medical records being tracked and transferred electronically from hospital to hospital to avoid duplication of treatments and avoid errors. So far
so good. But the devil is in the details. Once a bureaucracy is established, we know well that it begins to grow, or to use amedical term for this bill, methastasize. Thus, the designated National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, will monitor treatments to make sure
doctors are doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions (442, 446). As Betsy McCaughey writes for Bloomberg news:

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.

New Penalties

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.

Elderly Hardest Hit

Daschle says health-care reform “will not be pain free.” Seniors should be more
accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. That means the elderly will bear the brunt.

Medicare now pays for treatments deemed safe and effective. The stimulus bill would change that and apply a cost- effectiveness standard set by the Federal Council (464). 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.

Hidden Provisions

If the Obama administration’s economic stimulus bill passes the Senate in its current
form, seniors in the U.S. will face similar rationing. Defenders of the system say that individuals benefit in younger years and sacrifice later.

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. The bill allocates more funding for this bureaucracy than for the Army, Navy, Marines, and Air Force combined (90-92, 174-177, 181).

Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. Daschle supported the Clinton administration’s health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. 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.”

More Scrutiny Needed

On Friday, President Obama called it “inexcusable and irresponsible” for senators to delay passing the stimulus bill. In truth, this bill needs more scrutiny.

The health-care industry is the largest employer in the U.S. It produces almost 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product. Yet the bill treats health care the way European governments do: as a cost problem instead of a growth industry. Imagine limiting growth and innovation in the electronics or auto industry during this downturn. This stimulus is dangerous to your health and the economy.

(Betsy McCaughey is former lieutenant governor of New York and is an adjunct senior fellow at the Hudson Institute.)

In the Wall Street Journal:

"I'm in Newfoundland, Canada, 74 years old and in need of a hip replacement as it's bone on bone. I have an appointment to see a doctor on October 20th of this year. Meanwhile I carry on the best I can. I would be better off if I was a dog in need of a vet."
-- Robert McCrindle, responding to "The Americas: 'Too Old' for Hip Surgery."
See all of today's editorials and op-eds, video interviews and commentary on Opinion Journal.

1 comment:

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