The Democrats’ “stimulus” introduces state direction of medical care

Elizabeth “Betsy” McCaughey, who made a big impact on the national debate 15 years ago when she exposed the horrifying network of bureaucratic controls hidden inside the Clinton health care finance bill, now exposes the quasi socialized medicine scheme that is hidden inside the “stimulus” bill. The law would create, among other things, British-style government bodies that would determine whether it was “cost effective” for a patient to get a certain treatment. Dig it, freedom lovers: a committee of government-appointed bureaucrats decides whether you live or die.

Once again we see how the liberal demand for the equal provision of all human needs never stops, how the left will never rest until they have transformed the world into a single, borderless, bureaucratic state—the evil EU on a global scale. And so relentless and consciencelesss are the left, so willing and able to tell any lie, to take on any deceitful shape in pursuance of their goal, their goal which is nothing less than the extinction of human freedom and the death of humanity itself under all-providing, all-controlling government, that they even use the supposed emergency economic “stimulus” package to sneak state control over medical care into U.S. law. Read, get sick, and then get angry. First thing tomorrow morning, I’m calling my U.S. senators.

* * *

A friend said this entry was over the top:

We don’t hear the Europeans complaining about their socialized medicine. It can’t be as bad and extreme as you’re saying. You weaken your message when you put it in such extreme terms

I replied:

The Europeans don’t complain about it, because they’re already dead. The Europeans also have hate speech laws that make it a crime to criticize Islam, even as Islam is steadily taking over Europe, and they don’t complain about that either. Because they’re already dead. And I think the greatest single step in making them dead is socialized medicine, which removes this essential area of life from human decision and accountability. Once that happens, the spirit goes out of a people. True, the Europeans are contented and satisfied, their societies provide them with their material needs, they have their six week vacations. But the spirit of freedom is not in them. So they don’t protest anything. There’s nothing they won’t let the EU to do to them.

And that’s why I say—as extreme as it may sound—that socialized medicine means the end of humanity.

Here is the McCaughey article. Further discussion continues below the article.

Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan
Betsy McCaughey

Feb. 9 (Bloomberg)—Republican Senators are questioning whether President Barack Obama’s stimulus bill contains the right mix of tax breaks and cash infusions to jump-start the economy.

Tragically, no one from either party is objecting to the health provisions slipped in without discussion. These provisions reflect the handiwork of Tom Daschle, until recently the nominee to head the Health and Human Services Department.

Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version).

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.

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. The opinions expressed are her own.)

To contact the writer of this column: Betsy McCaughey at

- end of initial entry -

February 10

CN, a liberal acquaintance, writes:

Careful, Larry, please. Hyperventilation may not be covered under the new plan.

Have you read the bill, supporting documents, legislative opposing docs? Have you read Daschle’s book? I only ask because when you started out that McCaughey “made a big impact…” I was ready for a sarcastic joke about how ineffectual she was as Lt Gov. (OK, true: what Lt Gov is ever effective, short of gubernatorial death or disability, medical or political?) In the world of the utterly unforgettables, such as Lt Govs, McC stands out as a giant for not just being ignored by her Gov, but actively sidelined as a dolt or worse. That McC says the bill does X, Y or Z does not for a moment make me think that the bill does X or Y or Z. Then again, the bill *might* coincidentally do X and Y and Z, so it would be a good idea to know what the bill actually says if you want to opine about it publicly. If McC says X or Y or Z, it makes me suppose the bill is silent on X and Y and Z, or perhaps non-X, non-Y and non-Z.

I say this being unaware of McC’s politics, so it’s not that I disagree with whatever her ultimate positions are.

LA replies:

See my addition to the post online, where I explain and justify my admittedly extreme language.

Your points about McCaughey’s embarrassing career in politics are irrelevant to my point, and I don’t know if a tendency to make inapposite arguments is covered by the bill. I was referring to her articles, in The New Republic and elsewhere, in ‘93 or ‘94, that brought out the specific content of the Clinton health finance bill and that had a decisive effect on the debate and turned public opinion against the bill.

Tim W. writes:

The mortgage meltdown was triggered by government policies requiring banks to give home loans to minorities who failed to meet the standard criteria for such loans. When the inevitable happened and these minorities failed to meet their payment obligations, who got blamed? The politicians? Nope! The “free market” was blamed, and Obama (whose cronies helped cause the mess to begin with) cruised into office with an increased majority of socialistic politicians.

So when the first round of elderly patients are told that their few remaining years aren’t worth preserving, look for the free market to get blamed for it. The Democrats aren’t above lying about this, and neither are the media, and the GOP seems chronically inept when it comes to explaining these things to the voters.

CN replies to LA:
I assume the “inapposite arguments” was a dig, offered with the same affection as my “hyperventilate”. But please note, I made no substantive arguments, and objected to none. I went so far as to credit the possibility that McC happened to be correct, and I added at the end specifically that I wasn’t addressing McC’s positions, whatever they may be. My note to you wasn’t about substance, it was about the role and responsibility of bloggers who intend to affect public opinion. Just because McC says something—in an opinion piece, which may go through less fact-checking than reportage—doesn’t mean it’s correct.

LA replies:

This strikes me as a carping point. Unless a story presents particular problems, a blogger doesn’t generally do fact checking on a story he’s linking and quoting. Recently, for example, I’ve shown the appalling superficiality, amounting to cover-up, in the news coverage of murders by decapitation in Britain and the U.S., where it became evident the media did not want to draw the public’s attention to the beheadings taking place with increasing frequency in the West.

An article by Elizabeth McCaughey, a respected policy analyist who has worked at the Manhattan Institute and now the Hudson Institute, telling about provisions in the stimulus package, is something that can be passed on to readers without the blogger saying, “I don’t know if the measures that she says are in the bill are actually in the bill.” Further, McCaughey has creds in this area because of the importance of her work in exposing the provisions in the Clinton health finance bill.

Since so much of blogging consists of linking, quoting, and commenting on media articles, if the sort of fact checking you are calling for were required, blogging would come to an end. And to offer another affectionate dig, given the effectiveness of the conservative blogosphere, could that perhaps be your unspoken wish?

LA continues:

Here’s another example. During the debate on the 2006 version of the Comprehensive Immigration Bill, Robert Rector, a policy analyst at the Heritage Foundation, came out with an article showing, inter alia, that the bill would increase legal immigration from a little over one million a year to over three million a year. No one had known this. The people pushing the bill had not said this. His article made a huge impact on the debate, and led to an amendment significantly lowering the increase of legal immigration over the bill

When bloggers such as myself were reporting on Rector’s article, they didn’t say, “Well, I don’t know if what he’s saying is true, I’ll have to spend several days studying the bill myself before I report on Rector’s findings.” Nor did advocates of the bill challenge his findings. Evidently his findings were correct, because the Senate changed the bill to reduce the increase in legal immigration.

But, by your rules, CN, I and other bloggers would have had to read and figure out the bill ourselves before passing on Rector’s shocking findings to our readers. That’s why I suspect that your idea expresses an unspoken agenda, or, to be more gentle to you, an inchoate impulse, to hamper conservative bloggers.

CN replies:

One, I was unaware that McC is considered an expert on health care delivery and payment, or on the Clinton plan. So I just checked it out, very briefly. If Wikipedia is right, she was persuasive about the Clinton plan, and controversial. The article says that she did not correctly state the effect of the text of the legislation. Note that what I said last night was simply that just because McC says the legislation would have certain effects, that doesn’t tell me that it will in fact have those effects. If Wiki is right, then my skepticism turns out to have been well-founded, even if for different reasons. I just thought of her as flaky, but maybe she has a history of doing exactly what I was worried she might do.

Two, there can be a diff btwn the effects (intended and not) of a piece of legislation, and the actual requirements of the legislation. McC seemed to be saying in the Bloomberg OpEd yesterday that the current bill says these things will happen (which should be objectively verifiable), as a matter of legislative intent. But what she really may have meant could have been, for example, that she predicts this will later lead to add’l legis’n that will have or cause these effects; or that she guesses that her descriptions will come to pass as unintended consequences.

Three, note that people talk about “health care” in these debates and considerations when they mean “health care delivery and payment.”

Four, someone can sound off any way he wants to in the shower. She can do so on a soap box. He can do so in a blog. I am probably the last person who will mandate what bloggers must say, or what they must know or try to find out before saying it. Bloviate libre. But if one wants to be taken seriously as a blogger, as someone worthy of affecting public discourse and policy, it’s best that ones facts be correct. If McC is widely (not just within a conservative sphere) respected as knowledgeable on this, then my challenging reliance on her was misplaced, and I apologize.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at February 09, 2009 07:30 PM | Send

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