Tuesday, February 10, 2009 12:56 PM
By: David A. Patten
Buried in the bowels of the stimulus plan the Senate passed Tuesday are key healthcare provisions that will set America on the road to socialized medicine, involve the government in your choice of a doctor, and inevitably trigger another funding crisis that will be used to justify still greater federal intervention in America’s healthcare industry, experts tell Newsmax.
Among the most controversial parts of the bill are new federal guidelines that will require the government, rather than a doctor, to decide whether a patient should get medical care.
Ironically, the stimulus bill that will cost more than $1 trillion will lay the groundwork for a massive healthcare funding crisis in the future, according to senior healthcare fellow Dennis G. Smith of the Heritage Foundation.
According to Smith, the stimulus bill contains over $100 billion of temporary Medicaid money. In an unprecedented use of Medicaid, that money will go to provide medical coverage for 1.2 million unemployed workers. What happens to those people in two years, when most of the temporary federal funding ends, is a major question. It will eventually lead to huge budget shortfalls when the federal spigot shuts off.
“It’s going to be very serious,” Smith says. “The GAO, the watchdog agency that works for Congress, has already said the current Medicaid program is unsustainable, and that states for the current program have to either cut spending or raise taxes by 7.6 percent every year to stay in balance.”
After the federal money is gone, Smith says, states will have to either drop millions of people from the rolls or face massive shortfalls. That probably means they’ll soon be back at the federal trough pleading for more money.
“Medicaid is being asked to do too much,” Smith tells Newsmax. “You can’t keep putting more and more on the program. It’s already in danger of collapse, and all you're doing is hastening that day. And that’s not a good thing.”
Smith says many who join the Medicaid rolls will lose the right to see their own doctors. He describes the stimulus bill as “a freight train moving at top speed,” and suggests that urgent demands for its approval are duplicitous.
“Good ideas are being shut out of the process, and so the American people are sort of being presented with false choice: It’s either this way or nothing at all,” Smith says. “Well that’s not true.”
Betsy McCaughey, the former New York lieutenant governor who has made healthcare reform her life’s work, sees even more serious consequences to the plan.
She says new healthcare stipulations have intentionally been hidden in the stimulus bill to evade a public debate.
Writing on Bloomberg.com, McCaughey describes the bill’s provisions as “tragic,” adding, “Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health.”
1. It creates a new bureaucracy, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology, to “guide” decisions your doctor makes about your healthcare. She writes “enforcing uniformity goes too far.”
2. The bill gives the secretary of Health and Human Services the right to punish hospitals and doctors who are not “meaningful users” of the new healthcare system. The HHS secretary, authorized in the bill to exact “more stringent measures of meaningful over time,” has sole discretion to define which doctors and hospitals are in compliance. She says the provision is intended to slow use of new technologies and medicines that drive up the cost of healthcare.
3, Hardest hit, she says, will be the elderly. The stimulus takes away the old standards – a treatment must be “safe and effective,” and adds a cost-effectiveness standard. That means treatments could be accepted or rejected based on cost, and the elderly would be disproportionately affected. Elderly would suffer healthcare rationing, she warns.
4. The bill’s healthcare regulations would impact every American. “The stimulus bill will affect every part of healthcare, 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,” she writes in Bloomberg.
McCaughey notes that former Health and Human Services secretary nominee Tom Daschle authored the bill’s key health provisions.
Warnings that the stimulus bill could alter American healthcare forever also have erupted on talk radio.
"We are at a fork in the road,’ Talk radio giant Rush Limbaugh told listeners Monday. “We can take the fork to the Moscow of the 1970s or we can take the fork to China. That's the road to recovery Obama is offering. We might want to try the road south to Cuba, but the only thing that would make that worthwhile are cigars."
In an e-mail to listeners Limbaugh added, “The march to socialized medicine starts in the spending bill that Obama is scaring you into backing. This thing is packed with earmarks for liberal special interests. It's not stimulative.
“Health provisions in the ‘stimulus’ bill tell old people: You're gonna die, so accept it and get out of the way! Stop using up money we'd rather spend treating somebody younger.”
Tragically, McCaughey states, the incipient plan for national healthcare will actually hurt business and employment.
“The healthcare industry is the largest employer in the U.S. It produces almost 17 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product,” she writes on Bloomberg.com. “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.”
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All Americans must call their congressmen and senators . . . every single one of them . . . and remind them we voted them in and we can vote them out. Stop this Stimulus bill now! It's back to the House.