Is the Government Planning to Make Your Health-care Decisions?

There are many things in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 that concern me, but there is one thing craftily tucked into this bill that is most disturbing–the $1.1 billion to create a superstructure of rationed health care to the sick and the elderly.

The so-called "stimulus" bill establishes the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research, which is modeled after a similar council in the British socialized medicine system, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). This newly established council will evaluate medical treatments and drugs based on their comparative effectiveness as opposed to their clinical effectiveness.

Clinical effectiveness, which the Senate Republicans attempted to substitute in the bill unsuccessfully, would evaluate various treatments based solely on their medical benefits. Comparative effectiveness, on the other hand, is a euphemism for cost-effectiveness and will be used, as it is in the British system, to either grant or deny health care based on whether it is cost effective or not.

Former South Dakota Senator Tom Daschle, who was nominated by President Barack Obama to be the health-care czar as Secretary of Health and Human Services, by all accounts would have been chiefly responsible for implementing this plan had he not withdrawn from the nomination process because of his personal tax problems.

Daschle laid out the blueprint in his 2008 book Critical: What We Can Do About the Health-Care Crisis. He explains in the book that in the interest of controlling health-care costs, such a comparative effectiveness council would slow the development of new drugs and treatments that are expensive. And he sees this as a good thing, even though it would deny American patients the benefits of better research in terms of improved health and increased longevity.

Daschle is not shy about his objectives. His book, Critical, is dedicated to his grandchildren "with heartfelt hope that each will benefit from a new high-value and universal health-care system."

In his book, Daschle explains that Americans, especially elderly Americans, must get used to living with less comfort and less treatment for various medical maladies, i.e, the rationing of health care. Within the British health-care system, a mathematical formula is used (with age as a significant factor) to determine what level of health care is most cost effective for each patient. Under that system in 2006, for instance, the British council denied expensive treatment to elderly patients suffering from macular degeneration until they had gone blind in one eye. At that point they were eligible to receive medical treatment for the disease in their other eye. (This particularly egregious decision was overturned last year because of public outrage.)

Make no mistake about it – this bill mandates over a billion dollars to lay the initial building blocks in the foundation of a national health-care superstructure that will ration medical care to the sick and the elderly, with government bureaucrats (not doctors) making the medical decisions. As anyone who cares to notice already knows, this legislation was designed to do far more than "stimulate" our economy. It is at its heart a thinly veiled attempt at social re-engineering. This should profoundly disturb every American.

Daschle acknowledges in his book the American people probably are not ready for such a bold move. He advises any changes to the health-care system should be accomplished by stealth by quietly attaching wording to a major budget bill.

Many Americans and members of Congress weren't aware of the inclusion of this language relating to health care in the "stimulus" bill. Once the bill was finally put together and published, it was humanly impossible for any congressman to read the 1,073-page document before it came to the floor for a vote. And I ask: Is this the new era of open and transparent government we heard so much about during the presidential campaign?

Yet the commitment that the Obama administration has to this health-care proposal is made clear by the fact that Daschle was slated not only to be the Secretary of Health and Human Services, but that he was to have an office in the West Wing of the White House. Such a move is, as far as I know, unprecedented.

For those with a memory of the early years of the Clinton presidency, the establishment of this council is the resurrection of Hillary-care with a vengeance.