According to Betsy McCaughey in a commentary for Bloomberg.com, former HHS Secretary nominee Tom Daschle leaves behind a questionable legacy in the form of “under the radar” health care reforms he slipped into the Stimulus Package that measure individual treatment regimens of doctors against federally-mandated standards of care to be determined by a Federal Council. McCaughey says no one’s talking about or objecting to provisions contained in H.R. 1 EH, which she alleges are “dangerous to your health”.
“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.”
The bill advances a concept it refers to as “meaningful users,” which, while not defined in the bill, will expose to penalties facilities and practices that fail to meet this criteria. “Meaningful Users” will be defined as a class by the HHS secretary.
This could effectively curb any inclination by doctors to deviate from “accepted” forms of treatment when non-traditional or experimental options otherwise may prove beneficial. Daschle details his opinions in his 2008 book, “Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis,” in which he says that doctors must “learn to operate less like solo practitioners.”
Daschle allows that reforms “will not be pain free.” In particular, seniors must be willing to accept declining health as inherent in the aging process and not pursue treatment for age-related conditions. This doesn’t bode well for elder care. Seniors will certainly suffer under this proposal. Treatment standards would be dictated by a Federal Council rather than Medicare, which now pays for care deemed “safe and effective.”