Wednesday, February 11, 2009

COMMENTARY: Ruin Your Health With the Stimulus Plan

On, former New York Lt. Gov. Betsy McCaughey, now a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, writes that no one from either political party is objecting to the health provisions slipped in the federal economic stimulus bill (H.R. 1) without discussion. Senators and congressmen "should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health," McCaughey writes.

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States” by creating a new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, which will monitor treatments to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost effective, according to McCaughey. The goal is to reduce costs and “guide” your doctor’s decisions. 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.”

McCaughey writes that many of the health reform provisions in the stimulus bill come from former Sen. Tom Daschle’s book, which says that aging Americans should be more accepting of the conditions that come with age instead of treating them. "That means the elderly will bear the brunt," McCaughey writes. "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."

She adds: "The health-care industry is the largest employer in the U.S. It produces almost 17% of the nation’s GDP. 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."