Thursday, February 12, 2009

Obama's Hidden Health Care Agenda

Betsy McCaughey wrote a disturbing article in Bloomberg recently regarding health care provisions that were subtly slipped into the stimulus package. In short, this article suggested that the federal government will track each American's health care record electronically and then monitor treatments or other courses of action to insure that the doctor is performing in a way the feds deem is appropriate and cost effective. Are these words simply a scare tactic? Maybe, but only time will tell. For now, I am scared. I work in the health care industry, which, according to McCaughey, is the largest employer in the United States. Interference with, and tracking of the physician/patient relationship has the potential to disrupt the quality of patient care and erode confidence in the overall health care system. Limiting repeat exams and illuminating mistakes by careful assessment of patient care are not at issue here. Diagnostic exams and treatments should be medically necessary. What American's should be concerned about, is who is getting to make the decisions about patient care. I do not want a nameless, faceless bureaucrat with little or no medical education or knowledge making decisions about what exam, consultation, or treatment I may receive. I want my doctor to make those calls, in collaboration with someone who will be most dramatically affected by them--me, the consumer.
McCaughey suggests that those hit hardest will be older Americans, because the government will use a UK-employed formula to determine if treatments or exams are approved--this formula divides the cost of health management by the number of years the patient is likely to benefit. Forgive me for being nostalgic, but didn't our ancestors throw an abundance of perfectly good tea into Boston harbor, and engage in a passionate, bloody conflict so that we could be free from government influence such as this?
This new legislation could do much harm to retired and aging Americans. In addition to facing unsteady footing, loss of spouses and good friends, and fear of the End as we get older, it appears that we will also face an increased uncertainty in they way we are able to seek and receive medical care, even after years of splitting our paychecks with the government in order to fund social programs designed to help us maneuver the mine field of our later years. Apparently, the only thing we have to fear is fear itself--and the Golden Years.
In closing, I respectfully submit a suggestion to you, President Obama: please don't presume that you, or any other anonymous official can make informed decisions about what clinical path best serves my health. After all, I would never presume to advise you in your realm of expertise, such as leading a multi-million dollar Presidential campaign, writing successful books about your life, and what to do with your Blackberry.

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