Individual Health Care Will Be Ignored

The “stimulus” bill in Congress would fundamentally change the way health care is delivered to all Americans. It would hand over decisions about your care to a group of bureaucrats you won’t have the chance to elect.

The “stimulus” establishes a new government body to assess Americans’ health care and to make sure drugs and treatments “that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed.” That’s how House Appropriations Chairman David Obey (D-Wis.) described it. The words have changed, but the effect stays the same. Where is the outrage?

The predecessor of this new bureaucracy operates in the United Kingdom. The British National Health Service (NHS), revered by fans of government health care, has a body that compares and assesses drugs and treatments. It’s called the National Institute for Health and Clinical Effectiveness (not-too-aptly nicknamed NICE). It became infamous for denying cancer patients new drugs that had proven to be effective. They were deemed medically effective – but not cost-effective.

Patients can opt to buy these drugs out of their own pockets, while still paying the taxes that fund the NHS, of course. One man has wanted a similar board to govern the treatment of U.S. patients: Tom Daschle, who just ended his quest to be the new Secretary of Health and Human Services after being investigated for tax evasion. He laid out his entire vision in a book, “Critical: What We Can Do about the Health Care Crisis.”

The focus is a federal health board modeled on the Federal Reserve. This board would oversee the entire health sector, including research on drugs and treatments known as comparative effectiveness research. And, like the British version, it would concern itself not only with helping patients, but with the costs of treatment.

“We won’t be able to make a significant dent in health-care spending without getting into the nitty-gritty of which treatments are the most clinically valuable and cost effective,” Daschle wrote.

Health care spending is indeed a problem. But having the government decide which treatments are acceptable is beyond frightening – and it doesn’t make sense.

The House bill calls for this appointed board, dubbed the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research, to be at least 50 percent “physicians or other experts with clinical expertise.” However, there is no way the Council’s 15 members – all of whom also must be employed in federal government agencies – can determine which drug or treatment is going to work .

You are a unique human being, with genetic and environmental factors influencing your health. Perhaps Benadryl has the predictable effect of making you drowsy; or, perhaps it does the opposite and keeps you awake. Take that a step further to prescription medicines for serious illnesses. Your sister has severe depression, and she responds only to one antidepressant. What if it isn’t the one that works for most people? Or it’s the most expensive one?

Peter Pitts, head of the Center for Medicine in the Public Interest and a former FDA associate commissioner, explained why “one-size-fits-all” medicine doesn’t work: Most comparative effectiveness studies “don’t capture the genetic variations that explain differences in response to medicines by different patients.”

Having a board that excludes any treatment on the basis of comparative effectiveness is a danger to the health of those who fall outside the norms – and with the government setting those norms, any of us could end up as outliers.

The “stimulus” bill passed by the House creates this board. It allocates more than $1 billion for comparative effectiveness research. And it gives the new health and human services secretary (whoever that turns out to be) an additional $400 million at his or her discretion.

The supposed purpose of the bill – to “stimulate” the U.S. economy – is long gone.

As The New York Times’s Robert Pear so eloquently put it: “For Democrats, it is also a tool for rewriting the social contract with the poor, the uninsured and the unemployed, in ways they have long yearned to do.” He noted this was taking place “with little notice and no public hearings.”

That fits perfectly with the plan Daschle laid out – he never intended for Americans to know what was happening to their health-care structure. “I do not believe we should draft a bill laying out this vision in excruciating detail,” he wrote in “Critical.” “I believe a Federal Health Board should be charged with establishing the system’s framework and filling in most of the details.”

If his plan continues in his absence, this board will “fill in the details” of a completely government-driven health care overhaul.

(Original here)


7 Responses to “Individual Health Care Will Be Ignored”

  1. 1 Alan Scott
    21 February 2009 at 19:53

    If I read this column right it sounds as if the model for health care is our public education system. If you opt out as anyone who sends their kids to catholic or any other private school, you still pay taxes for it. If you no longer use it such as when your kids grow up you are still taxed. As in education, those profiting will have the incentive to boost taxes,ie the teachers unions. No wonder Democrats love this crap. Just as in education, if private enterprise rears it’s ugly head, it will be crushed, as charter schools have generally been. The new gov. health care unions will fill the coffers of Pelosi and Reid.

  2. 2 Alan Scott
    23 February 2009 at 10:12

    I have to praise a Democrat when he deserves it. I also doubly have to praise a Democrat when he is attacked by a worthless left wing group like MoveOn.org. The enemy of my enemy is indeed my friend. I am talking about the governor of Tennessee, Phil Bredesen.

    I am basing this post on an article in The Wall Street Journal, 2/23/2009 entitled ” Mugging Phil Bredesen “. Since Medicare is slated to go broke soon along with Social Security, I believe this in timely. Just as we are now looking for anyone with good ideas to solve the financial mess we are all in, soon our glorious leaders will be looking for anyone who knows how to save the Medicare fiasco.

    With out violating copyrighting, I will give my take on the article. Gov. Bredesen inherited a state medicare disaster in 2003. Like all such things it was more expensive than it’s supporters lead taxpayers to believe. It was destroying Tennessee’s finances, surprise,surprise. Bredesen cut people from the rolls, cut benefits, and charged $150 monthly premiums. Governor Bredesen is now getting the same treatment usually only a Republican gets from left wing nuts.

  3. 3 Alan Scott
    26 February 2009 at 17:41

    Today on his show 2/26/09, Jim Cramer blasted President Obama for annihilating the Health care stocks. With his new health care package Cramer said that Obama is reducing these for profit companies to charities. He lamented that there are now no sectors of the stock market that are Obama proof. The amusing part of this is that Jim Cramer could not wait for Bush to go and praised Obama when he was elected.

  4. 4 DJ
    27 February 2009 at 14:21

    I don’t think our President has an ounce of give-a-shit regrding the solvency of our economy. His goal is to redisrtibute poverty across a larger body of people (read the middle class). As with all Socialists, he believes in the class stucture, I coud be wrong, but I can find no evidence to the contrary. The current “leadership” in our government appear to be attempting to totally circumvent the Constitution. Legislating that The District of Columbia has voting rights? Legislating gun ownership or loss of that right based on your name being placed on a “No fly list”-without due process!!!! The list goes on and on and we haven’t gotten to March 1st yet!

  5. 5 Alan Scott
    28 February 2009 at 19:56

    It’s early yet, but a young college student who was constantly laying into me about how great it was that Republicans were finally out and Obama is in the White House, recently told me of his concern about these trillion dollar deficits. His generation is starting to realize they are on the hook for this. I told him, but this is change you voted for. It was my first, ‘ I told you so’ moment. It won’t be my last. He just is getting in to pistol target shooting. I reminded him that us knuckle draggers in the NRA are the only reason he can legally own a gun.

  6. 28 February 2009 at 20:04

    I’ve seen beacons of real hope in some of the younger kids. My cousin is severely concerned about his gun rights and hates welfare. I saw on his Facebook the other day, “spread the wealth around”… um why? work hard and get paid.” He is 21. This makes me immensely proud.

    Then about a month ago another gal, who just turned 18, that I know was ranting and raving about how bad socialism was. And it wasn’t just a “I hate socialism,” no, she was very intelligent about it. This makes me immensely proud.

    Then lastly, I know a single 18-yr old mother who refused to vote for Obama. She refuses to take welfare. She refuses to live on the State. Her words. Her family is disappointed in her for taking these positions. This makes me immensely proud.

    I am proud to see these people speak out. Not just to me, but to anyone. They all seem outspoken about their opposition. Maybe their words will inspire others their age to realize what is going on.

  7. 7 DJ
    1 March 2009 at 22:51

    My wife showed me an article in the newspaper the other day, high school age and College bound youngsters supporting a Republican (Mitt Romney). I wish they would understand that Conservatism is the Brand NOT Republicanism. When Reagan won it was Conservatives and Libertarians that put him in office twice-landslides both times! So what does the GOP do for an encore? They push GHWB to the middle and drag in all the evangelicals. The GOP shifted, almost overnight from a party enriched with Conservative values, to a party entrenched with Neo-Conservative rhetoric.

    Sorry to go so far OT…

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