Monday, February 16, 2009

More medical socialism hidden in the “spendulus” bill

The writer below is one of the alternative medicine crowd but there are a lot of those and they could give the Obama crowd significant opposition. What she says about the authoritarian provisions in the new bill seems correct from any viewpoint, however

I first read Betsy McCaughey’s commentary, Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan a couple of days ago; and again, in not wanting to focus overmuch on federal doings (nor wanting to turn this place into a wall of rantings) I refrained from commenting. But some of the stuff coming down the road is just too outrageous to let it pass by....

Some context from McCaughey’s essay first (one link preserved below):
[N]o one from either party is objecting to the health provisions slipped in without discussion. These provisions reflect the handiwork of Tom Daschle, until recently the nominee to head the Health and Human Services Department. Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version [that is not a link to a PDF]).

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.

Yowza! But is McCaughey scare-mongering here? I clicked through to try to find the relevant sections in the bill myself—and in the process, discovered that because it’s still being hammered out, the search results are frequently updated. Thus, I can’t provide a better link than the one in the quoted text above.
Anyway, she is not engaging in hyperbole, as the bill stands now. The current form—it has already changed once since I began this post—reads as follows (formatting not retained):

(a) Establishment- There is established within the Department of Health and Human Services an Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (referred to in this section as the `Office'). The Office shall be headed by a National Coordinator who shall be appointed by the Secretary and shall report directly to the Secretary.

(b) Purpose- The National Coordinator shall perform the duties under subsection (c) in a manner consistent with the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that allows for the electronic use and exchange of information and that--

(1) ensures that each patient's health information is secure and protected, in accordance with applicable law;

(2) improves health care quality, reduces medical errors, and advances the delivery of patient-centered medical care;

(3) reduces health care costs resulting from inefficiency, medical errors, inappropriate care, duplicative care, and incomplete information;

(4) provides appropriate information to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care;

(5) ensures the inclusion of meaningful public input in such development of such infrastructure;

(6) improves the coordination of care and information among hospitals, laboratories, physician offices, and other entities through an effective infrastructure for the secure and authorized exchange of health care information;

(7) improves public health activities and facilitates the early identification and rapid response to public health threats and emergencies, including bioterror events and infectious disease outbreaks;

(8) facilitates health and clinical research and health care quality;

(9) promotes early detection, prevention, and management of chronic diseases;

(10) promotes a more effective marketplace, greater competition, greater systems analysis, increased consumer choice, and improved outcomes in health care services; and

(11) improves efforts to reduce health disparities.

(c) Duties of the National Coordinator-

(1) STANDARDS- The National Coordinator shall--

(A) review and determine whether to endorse each standard, implementation specification, and certification criterion for the electronic exchange and use of health information that is recommended by the HIT Standards Committee under section 3003 for purposes of adoption under section 3004;

(B) make such determinations under subparagraph (A), and report to the Secretary such determinations, not later than 45 days after the date the recommendation is received by the Coordinator;

(C) review Federal health information technology investments to ensure that Federal health information technology programs are meeting the objectives of the strategic plan published under paragraph (3); and
(D) provide comments and advice regarding specific Federal health information technology programs, at the request of the Office of Management and Budget.

First, out of all this gobbledygook, the phrase “health disparities” leapt out at me, and I just had to laugh. Given the uniqueness of each of us—uniqueness in health as well as illness—how the f*ck do these healthocrats think they’re going to reduce disparities?

That one phrase is emblematic of the fundamental problem here: their solutions call for systematizing that which cannot be systematized. People are not interchangeable cogs; we do not respond uniformly to most things outside of some basics (such as oxygen or water; and it may be the case that our metabolic pathways may be somewhat unique even here), either in mind or in body. Medicine used to be considered part art and part science precisely for the same reason: helping someone heal requires attending to his unique situation as well as placing it (to some degree) into the broader context of accumulated knowledge.

The art has been undermined for decades, replaced by systems and institutions. And now the science is revealing its cracks, too, as it has narrowed in scope, become politicized and dogmatic, and allowed many of us to think its answers are more solid than they really are. I believe it was my spirited sister Wolfie, who commented recently that for all science’s explorations, relatively few bacteria have been identified, much less understood in the context of human health or unhealth. Yet to read news reports and science mags, one would think this stuff is all figured out. It may be to a high degree, in discrete little units of information, but those bits haven’t become integrated into bytes—there’s too little generalized understanding.

So the fedgov’s effort to herd us into neat little medical categories, and to dictate to doctors and other health care providers how we should be treated, is doomed to fail. It must, given how it’s set up.

But it will cost millions, in dollars wasted, in hours of life and energy to no real purpose, and in lives unnecessarily shortened or snuffed by the medical manufacturers. This is not hyperbole—it is already happening, all around us. Too many of us—myself included, once upon a time—have ceded responsibility for our health to so-called experts who know far less than they let on, and whose biases help keep us in their grip, instead of taking responsibility ourselves. Too many of us have fallen for the seductive promise of definitive answers via scientific methods, requiring that we “understand” how something works before we’ll deign to try it. Tell me, does knowing that a pill is a beta agonist or selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor really tell you what is going on in your body if you swallow it? It sounds like we know what’s going on, when we haven’t a f*cking clue.

I have stated publicly that I will not cooperate with any mandatory health insurance Ponzi scheme. Health insurance is not necessary to obtain health care. It is a wholly unnecessary part of the current medical institution, socializing health care and vastly inflating its cost. In keeping with my desire to keep my health under my control, I will do everything in my power to avoid any health care provider who cooperates with this vast socializing of medical care. In a world that is rapidly stripping away both privacy and dignity, I will resist.


British hospital let 80-year-old man walk home to his death - because payphone was broken

A hospital has been censured by health watchdogs for letting an elderly man walk home unsupervised to his death after a blood transfusion. Novelist Aplyn Wynn-Jones, 80, was discharged from the hospital after receiving treatment for anaemia. He was found by his daughter Alison the next day at his home in his armchair wrapped in blankets, and died within hours of organ failure and a heart attack. The Healthcare Commission said it would have been 'prudent to have allowed an overnight stay, or at the very least for him to have been collected and taken home with some help and support'.

Alison's husband Patrick Storer, who was with her when she found him, lodged a complaint against Musgrove Park Hospital, in Taunton, Somerset, over the way it had dealt with Mr Wynn-Jones on May 16 last year. Speaking from his home in Blindmoor, near Chard, in Somerset, Mr Storer, 56, assistant headteacher at the Castle School in Taunton, said: 'The hospital didn't organise transport for him; they told him to make a call on a payphone, which wasn't working. 'The walk took him more than an hour, he was forced to sit on low walls to get his breath back. He is a very fit 80-year-old, and walks four miles a day, so this should not have been difficult. 'When we arrived in the morning he was clearly dying. He was conscious, but had no strength and was stone cold. He was shivering by the fire in his study and his chest was rattling.'

Mr Wynn-Jones, a widower and grandfather who was partially deaf and partially sighted, had recently had his first novel published, The Hidden Springs, dealing with the story of Bonnie Prince Charlie.

He went to the hospital as an outpatient for a series of injections but was asked to stay for several hours while being given three pints of blood by transfusion. Unable to call a taxi on the broken hospital payphone, Mr Wynn-Jones walked the one-and-a-half miles to his Taunton home. He spoke to his son-in-law by phone that night, saying he had been sick and was going to bed. The next morning Mr and Mrs Storer found him weak and shivering with his chest rattling. He was taken back to Musgrove Park Hospital where he was pronounced dead that same afternoon.

Mr Storer said: 'My wife and I were both shocked and very upset. He was healthy just two days before. 'Once over the shock, I was just very angry for 10 months. They treated this elderly gentleman terribly. They just chucked him out of the hospital. 'The thing that pained us, that really upset us, was the thought of that walk home. They made no attempt to contact us, we could have picked him up. I'm really quite outraged

Mr Storer said: 'The hospital didn't make sure he understood the procedure and the risks involved. 'We called the emergency doctor who was so appalled by his condition he advised us to make a complaint.' The Healthcare Commission has upheld Mr Storer's complaint and has since made recommendations to Taunton and Somerset NHS Foundation Trust, which runs the hospital. It said in its report that 'the nursing care fell far below the standard expected'.

Mr Storer said he would be discussing possible legal action against the Trust with his solicitor on Monday. A Trust spokeswoman said it was dealing with the recommendations made by the commission 'urgently'. She added: 'The Trust complaints manager has written to Mr Storer. Once the investigation is complete senior medical staff from the trust will meet with Mr Storer to outline the conclusion of the report and the action plan developed as a result.'


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