Sunday, February 01, 2009

Whats in the stimulus that scares me most

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

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.”

Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.

New Penalties

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.

One quote from the book that is very telling:
"Daschle's solution lies in the Federal Reserve Board, which has overseen the equally complicated financial system with great success."

Commentary by Betsy McCaughey

Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis by Tom Daschle
lo and behold, Senator B0 endorsed this book, saying:

The american healthcare system is in crisis,
and workable solutions have been blocked for years by deeply entrenched ideological divisions. Sen. daschle brings fresh thinkin to this problem, and his Federal Reserve for Health concept holds great promise for bridging this intellectual chasm, and, at long last, giving this nation the health car that it deserves."

Imagine the implications for those of us raising children society has already signed off on as "less-than"? When will treatments be withheld so "nature can take its course"? Will heart surgery for the mentally retarded not be "cost-effective" enough?

"Meaningful use" feels an awful lot like "Life unworthy of life", to me.

"A lack of resources caused Germany and other countries to favor those who would recover versus those who would need constant care."

Propaganda slide featuring a chart produced by the Reich Propaganda Office showing that in 1936 the total cost of caring for 880,000 people ill with hereditary disease was 1200 million Reichsmarks, which was almost double the 713 million RM spent on the administration of the national, state, and local government.

Date: 1936
Locale: Germany
Credit: USHMM, courtesy of Roland Klemig
Copyright: USHMM

In 1920, the concept of living beings not worthy of the life they embodied gained impetus with a tract published by two university professors, Karl Binding and Alfred Hoche. Permission for the Destruction of Life Unworthy of Life articulated key implications for people with disabilities. Binding and Hoche called for the killing of people with disabilities, whom they viewed as "incurable idiots" having no will or sense of living. Killing them, therefore, was hardly involuntary euthanasia, that is, the imposition of others' will upon them. This shifted the burden of human existence from simply being alive to requiring an explicit justification for living.

For Binding and Hoche, therefore, the right to live was to be earned, not assumed. One earned the right to live by being a useful economic contributor to society. Chief among the individuals they saw as being useless were those who seemed to have little or no human feeling, or in their terms, "empty human husks" whose only societal function was the consuming of precious resources while contributing nothing to society in return. In Binding and Hoche's terms, they were "useless eaters" whose "ballast lives" could be tossed overboard to better balance the economic ship of state.

Binding and Hoche's polemic was furiously debated across Germany. One strident critic of the Binding and Hoche position was Weald Meltzer, the director of an asylum in Saxony, who held that many of his charges did indeed have the ability to enjoy life inasmuch as their disabilities would allow. In an attempt to support his belief, Meltzer surveyed the parents of his patients to ascertain their perceptions of disability and euthanasia.

To Meltzer's astonishment, the survey results showed a widely held contradiction among the parents that although they had strong emotional ties to their children, they simultaneously expressed, with varying degrees of qualification, a "positive" attitude toward killing them. The results were a harbinger of future public and official perceptions and actions toward people with disabilities. Meltzer's survey was later used as a major rationale for the killing of thousands of people with disabilities under the National Socialists, whose long-held social perceptions of difference coupled with official state prejudice delineated a series of genocidal markers that doomed significant numbers of people with disabilities during the Nazi era.

Propaganda slide featuring three portraits of mentally ill patients. The caption reads, "Idiots!"

Date: Circa 1934
Locale: Germany
Credit: USHMM, courtesy of Marion Davy
Copyright: USHMM the end of World War I, an implicit but palpable public perception of higher economic worth was attached to people without disabilities, and lesser worth was attributed to people with disabilities. Later, the economic worth of human life under the Nazis proved a key distinction for creating and sanctioning genocide against people with disabilities.

ask questions, research, do not just swallow this mess whole. The road to socialism is hidden in the technical language.


Shelley said...

This is how our military health system is already ran. And you are right, care WILL be denied to people because it's not "cost effective". We are experiencing this right now with my husband. He's being denied a much needed medical proceedure because it "costs money". So instead, he's suffering to the point he can't do his job anymore and his health is declining. It's been 6 months and we're still waiting on someone to decide that my husband's health is worth spending the money on. All he needs is a MRI. Since it's being denied, he's losing his ability to walk. He can't stand on his feet for longer than 2 hours at a time. He's 31 years old. NO ONE IN THIS GOVERNMENT CONTROLLED MEDICAL SYSTEM CARES. And yes, they will tell you that. "Not my problem" is their answer. The doctors even say, "It's all about the money. If it costs too much, we can't order the test or provide the treatment." They tell you that!!!
And, just so you know it's not just my soldier husband being treated this way.....guess how long it took me to get a referral to a GYN for problems realted to "female issues"???? 2 YEARS. Why? because the government doctors didn't think I was hurting enough or that my problem was "bad enough". Now I have damage and a whole bunch of new problems that could've been easily treated 2 years ago. Thankfully, it's not cancer. But it could have been.

I've tried to tell all you civilians out there to be careful what you wish for. Government controlled health care is BAD. It DOES deny treatment, it DOES cause you to suffer longer and wait longer for treatment. And they can and will tell you "no" that they won't treat the problem.
And as for our children with disabilities....well, you don't even want to go there! Thankfully, my children have been given permission to see civilian doctors. But, if this new bill passes, they too will suffer like the rest of us under government controlled medicine.

Stephanie @ Ralphcrew said...

Michelle, thank you for this post. Well done! I read the article this morning and I've been thinking all day about posting something about it. I couldn't have said it any better than you.

Shelly, thank you for your insider's perspective under gov't controlled medical care. We all need to be careful what we wish for, don't we? "Free" healthcare may come at too high a price.

Cheryl said...

Wonderful post and so true.

Alyssa said...

This happens now all the time. People get denied for all sorts of medical procedures (and die) because the insurance companies won't cover them. It is all about money and always has been, that's why we have the worst health care system in the world right now. Something needs to change, and no nothing will be perfect for everyone but something definitely needs to change.