Feb. 9, 2009, "Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan: Betsy McCaughey," Bloomberg, Commentary by Betsy McCaughey
"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 effect "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.
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 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.
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 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.)"
Added: Tom Daschle had been Obama’s first choice for head of HHS until he had a limo problem.
Added: 2/14/2009, "US Congress passes economic stimulus bill,“ Patrick Martin, World Socialist Web Site
Added: 2/15/2009, “U.S. to Compare Medical Treatments,” NY Times, Robert Pear
“Under the (stimulus) legislation, researchers will receive $1.1 billion to compare drugs, medical devices, surgery and other ways of treating specific conditions. The bill creates a council of up to 15 federal employees to coordinate the research and to advise President Obama and Congress on how to spend the money….
Supporters of the research hope it will eventually save money by discouraging the use of costly, ineffective treatments.
The soaring cost of health care is widely seen as a problem for the economy.”…
Added: In the 2012 presidential campaign, “the Republican Party abandoned” the issue of repealing ObamaCare. “A majority of the people wanted to repeal Obamacare, an issue that] the Republican Party abandoned,” Caddell noted.” Caddell spoke at CPAC:
“The 2010 takeover of Congress by the Republicans, Caddell said, “was not engineered by the Washington Republican establishment. They [the establishment] then took that victory and threw it away….
Pat Caddell, the Fox News Contributor and Democrat pollster who engineered Jimmy Carter’s 1976 Presidential victory, blew the lid off CPAC on Wednesday with a blistering attack on “racketeering” Republican consultants who play wealthy donors like “marks.”
“I blame the donors who allow themselves to be played for marks. I blame the people in the grassroots for allowing themselves to be played for suckers....It’s time to stop being marks. It’s time to stop being suckers. It’s time for you people to get real,” he told the audience that included two top Republican consultants.
Caddell stole the show as a panelist in the breakout session titled “Should We Shoot All the Consultants Now?” He spoke with a fire and passion that electrified the room. When the session began the large room was half filled, but as word spread of the fireworks going on inside, the audience streamed in. By the end, it was standing room only.
Breitbart News spoke with Caddell prior to his talk, and he promised he would deliver a “brutal critique” of the Republican establishment and its political consulting class. He did not disappoint, pulling no punches with an unyielding evisceration of a small group of Republican consultants, the Romney campaign, the Republican National Committee, and Karl Rove’s Crossroads GPS Super PAC.
“When you have the Chief of Staff of the Republican National Committee and the political director of the Romney campaign, and their two companies get $150 million at the end of the campaign for the ‘fantastic’ get-out-the-vote program…some of this borders on RICO [the 1970 Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act] violations,” Caddell told the crowd. “It’s all self dealing going on. I think it works on the RICO thing. They’re in the business of lining their pockets.”
“The Republican Party,” Caddell continued, “is in the grips of what I call the CLEC–the consultant, lobbyist, and establishment complex.“ Caddell described CLEC as a self serving interconnected network of individuals and organizations interested in preserving their own power far more than they’re interested in winning elections.
“Just follow the money,” Caddell told a rapt audience. “It’s all there in the newspaper. The way it works is this–ever since we centralized politics in Washington, the House campaign committee and the Senate campaign committee, they decide who they think should run. You hire these people on the accredited list [they say to candidates] otherwise we won’t give you money. You hire my friend or else.”
Financial corruption is a key component of the current process, according to Caddell. “There’s money passing under the table on both parties. Don’t kid yourself…
Caddell left no doubt he is not an admirer of Mitt Romney’s campaign management skills. He called Romney “the worst executive I’ve seen” when it comes to leading a political campaign. Romney’s failure to attack Obama’s Benghazi debacle during the foreign policy debate was “cravenness” that came about because his consultants told him “we don’t want to look warlike.”
Caddell also said Romney failed to back his campaign with his own money when it was most needed. ”My question for Romney is, you spent $45 million [of your own money] in your 2008 campaign where you didn’t have a chance. Why didn’t you give your campaign a loan in the spring instead of letting Obama define you?”
Romney, Caddell said, was not on top of his game when he failed to anticipate attacks based on his business career. “You didn’t know Bain was coming? Ted Kennedy used it against you.” Romney lost to Ted Kennedy in the 1994 Senate election in Massachusetts.
Caddell was equally caustic in his evaluation of the Republican consultants who managed Romney’s campaign. “Of course this election could have been won. It should have been won,“ he said. ”The Romney campaign was the worst campaign in my lifetime except for ninety minutes [in the first debate] thanks to Barack Obama.”
“There was a failure of strategy, a failure of tactics, a massive failure of messaging. Most of all there was a total failure of imagination.” Caddell singled out Stuart Stevens, a key figure in Romney’s campaign, in a particularly withering critique. “Stevens had as much business running a campaign as I do sprouting wings and flying out of this room,” he said to an audience that applauded.
Caddell said that Romney inexplicably allowed Obama to define him without fighting back. If Obama had a 50% favorable rating on election day, he had an 80% chance of winning. If he had a 45% favorable rating on election day, he had a 90% chance of losing. On election day, Obama’s favorable rating was 51% because, Caddell said, “Republicans failed to hold him down.”
“A majority of the people wanted to repeal Obamacare, [an issue that] the Republican Party abandoned,” Caddell noted. He added that “on the issue of bigger or smaller government, one-third of the people who want smaller government voted for Obama.”…
Caddell predicted that the Republican Party, unless it became the anti-establishment, anti-Washington party, would become extinct, like the 19th century Whig Party. “These people [in the consulting-lobbying-establishment complex] are doing business for themselves. They are a part of the Washington establishment. These people don’t want to have change.”
The 2010 takeover of Congress by the Republicans, Caddell said, “was not engineered by the Washington Republican establishment. They [the establishment] then took that victory and threw it away.”
Caddell called Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) “the Ambrose Burnside of American politics.” Burnside was the commander of the Union’s Army of the Potomac during the Civil War. He was dismissed by Lincoln for his inability to press his advantage against the enemy, his plodding and unimaginative strategies, and his inability to focus resources on the tactics needed for victory.
Caddell cautioned Republicans not to read too much in the 2012 results where they maintained control of the House of Representatives. ”You won the House [in 2012] because of the reapportionment that came after the 2010 [Tea Party] victories,” he said. Senator Marco Rubio (R-FL), elected in 2010, and Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI), elected in 2012, had to fight this establishment at every step in the process and “claw their way” to electoral success, Caddell said.
When an audience member asked Caddell why he, a Democrat, was offering Republicans advice that would help them beat his own party, his response was met with huge applause. “I’m not a fan of Barack Obama,” Caddell said. “My first allegiance is to my country. I have paid a huge price, and when I watch you people screwing up I’m offended.””…