Regardless on how each of us may feel about the economic benefit of the current "stimulus" plan, there is a glaring health care addendum that could very well destroy health care in America. The first reform tacked on is actually one I have supported in past years, and continue to support today, the addition of electronic medical records such as the one the VA (veterans association) currently uses. As it is set up, this would allow any doctor currently giving a patient care to access their FULL medical records, no matter where they have gotten care in the past. Currently, a physician can only see records that were performed in the same system that they are using, limiting the information to only a few hospitals. This allows for significant errors to be made due to lack of information, such as drug interactions, previous medical history, and results from previous tests. For example, say my grandfather (who has had a few heart attacks in his current residence) was in another state on vacation and had another heart attack. Under the current system, the hospital serving him would be unable to see any of his old records, his current meds, and his baseline ecg to see if he is actually having a heart attack and how best to treat him. A national health care DATABASE would give them all of his pertinent medical history, allowing for better care.
Notice how I wrote database there. I am NOT an advocate for national health care, just a national database. If you want national health care, move to Canada, England, or France and ask them how it is. Each of these countries is currently moving away from these systems, something that we should take note of since we seem to be attempting to move towards it. We have three great models of failed systems, yet are arrogant enough to believe that we can do it better. I digress, back to the new addendum. So... good: national healthcare database. Bad...they couldn't stop there. Tom Daschle (you remember him, he was going to be in charge of Health and Human Services until it was discovered he "accidently" forgot to pay over $100,000 in back taxes?) got involved. Using $6 BILLION, they would set up the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, an oversight committee set up to look over nurses and doctors shoulders to ensure they are doing what the federal government thinks is cost effective and medically appropriate. Interestingly, only 1/2 of the committee members would be health care people, so the people determining if your doctor was giving you appropriate care wouldn't be doctors. Since they would be politicians, I assume they would be lawyers, one reason I feel like I'm having an aneurism while thinking about it. So on the surface, this committee would be trying to get doctors on the same updated treatments, to ensure that everybody knew the correct new drugs/treatment options available. But this is sadly not the case.
Daschle wrote a book in 2008 aout how to fix healthcare, including ideas to use an appointed body (I wonder what committee that could be...) to slow development of new treatments and medications, because they are driving up the cost of healthcare. Let me be clear: without these new technologies, we would be treating patients with blood-letting, penicillin, and amputations, not to mention the iron lung for polio that is now eradicated (thanks to the hated new technology. I hate being able to breath on my own, damn those stupid scientists.) He stated that we as Americans need to accept life, somethings can't be fixed. True, so if a patient with terminal cancer is in pain, do we not give them painkillers since they are going to die anyways? This would significantly impact elderly patients, who will bear the brunt of the brutality. Since the committtee (now referred to as the Nazi Americans for Health, or NAH as in "nah, you'll just have to live with it) would determine medical coverage from using a "cost-effective" treatment plan instead of what is safe and effective, the formula is cost divided by the number of years a patient gets the benefit. This means older patients get less treatment than younger, because an 85 year old woman with heart failure isn't going to get as much benefit as a 2 day old with a heart defect. Even if the treatment for heart failure is a few fairly cheap pills, we can't give it to you because it isn't worth it. That's premeditated murder, a felony last time I checked.
Ok Mr. Daschle, if that's how its going to be, its time to put Ted Kennedy out to pasture. Look at his risk factors: he's 77, has atherosclerosis enough to prompt a carotid scraping (which increases his risk of stroke, heart attack, and other stuff), he has had multiple strokes, multiple seizurres, and was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer. Yet he had the audacity to undergo an EXPERIMENTAL surgery (gasp!) to try and prolong his life a few months. At the Democratic National Convention he was hailed as a hero. Under the new guidelines, he would be a waste of money. Under the new plan, he wouldn't have even gotten the original carotid scraping because he's too old. Don't think that I'm callous, I'm a conservative and I support operating on Kennedy's brain...even if it does just extend his life a few months. Another example: Ruth Bader Ginsburg, supreme court justice was diagnosed last week with pancreatic cancer. Surviving % at 5 years: 5%. Yet 24 hours after diagnosis she was under the knife, selfishly trying to stay alive. It will be interesting to see if members of Congress are put into the same treatment paradigm as us regular folk.
As a future MD, I wonder if Daschle has the stones to talk to a patient and that patients family, to tell the patient that the life-saving surgery isn't cost-effective enough, so here's a coupon for a cheap funeral home. They haven't taught me that conversation yet, so I think I'll need him to show me how to tell someone they need to die.
Slipping these provisions into the bill is effectively making Americans swallow national health care, but without the FREE healthcare! Daschle has actually found a way to combine the worst of our current system (its expensive) and the national varient (horrible patient care). Whether you believe we need the stimulus package or not, watch out for the long term health implications. They may be more than America can handle.