Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Stimulus Section Spin-Fest

Something I read this morning, and decided to find out more about, taught me to take Internet opinion and other information with a larger grain of salt, regardless of the purported credibility of the source.

commentary on Bloomberg Media yesterday raised the collective eyebrows of quite a few people, including myself, concerned with this country's health care system. To quote this article:

The bill’s health rules will affect “every individual in the United States”...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. 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 article by Betsy McCaughey goes on to assert that many of these provisions in the Stimulus Bill are extensions of some of Mr. Daschle's assertions made in his book, and will marginalize health care choice and the activities of physicians.

Given the pressure that the Obama administration is placing on Congress to get this bill passed, my initial reaction to this article was "Holy Patriot Act, Batman!".

The reactionary conservative site NewsMax.com put a lot of this under a headline that blared "Socialized Medicine". Another site got a reaction out of Arlen Specter of Pennsylvania, one of the three Republican senators favoring the Stimulus, and thus a marked man. Father Coughlin reincarnated also weighed in as expected.

On the other side, a lawyer with a blog specializing in health care issues carefully dissected Ms. McCaughey's comments and found a few areas of distortion.

What to think now?

As much as I believe that government-supervised universal health care is a lesser evil than for-profit insurer-controlled health care, I'm thinking that I agree with only one assertion in Ms. McCaughey's commentary:

"On Friday, President Obama called it 'inexcusable and irresponsible' for senators to delay passing the stimulus bill. In truth, this bill needs more scrutiny."

Alas, the Senate passed their version of the bill this afternoon, so the only hope for a little sanity is in the House/Senate Conference committee. There appears to be at least one Democratic senator who is carrying a torch for common sense. Let's hope he can spread some light around.

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