Health News Digest

January 6, 2014

Bureaucrats To The Rescue

By  Michael D. Shaw

It has been pointed out—by individuals who are hardly socialists—that a for-profit health care system will be fraught with untold conflicts of interest, most of which can only be resolved after the fact, rather than be prevented. A recent example is the unconscionable overuse of cardiac stents.

As reported last September by Bloomberg, half of elective surgeries to implant cardiac stents may be unnecessary and are inadvertently causing patient deaths. Replete with bona fide horror stories, the Bloomberg piece quotes Nortin Hadler, a professor of medicine at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill:

Stenting belongs to one of the bleakest chapters in the history of Western medicine. Cardiologists are marching on because the interventional cardiology industry has a cash flow comparable to the GDP of many countries and doesn’t want to lose it.

And now comes a study just published in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled “Arthroscopic Partial Meniscectomy versus Sham Surgery for a Degenerative Meniscal Tear.” Here’s the astonishing conclusion: “In this trial involving patients without knee osteoarthritis but with symptoms of a degenerative medial meniscus tear, the outcomes after arthroscopic partial meniscectomy were no better than those after a sham surgical procedure.”

As noted by our friends at the American Council on Science and Health…

This type of knee surgery is the most common orthopedic procedure performed in the U.S., done about 700,000 times at a cost of about $4 billion. One year after the surgery or sham, objectively recorded patient perceptions revealed no significant difference between the two groups: each on average felt quite well and would choose the “same procedure” again, even if they were told they had had the “pretend” one.

Surely, there are many other examples of such abuse that could be counted up. So, what is the remedy? As established more than 100 years ago by Teddy Roosevelt, the answer is government regulation, of course. Which brings us to yet another unheralded and wide-open, nay, draconian provision of Obamacare. Possibly, you missed it among the more than 374,000 words of the bill.

Allow me to introduce TITLE I, Subtitle D, PART II, Section 1311, (h) QUALITY IMPROVEMENT, (1) ENHANCING PATIENT SAFETY, (B). This portion states that: “Beginning on January 1, 2015, a qualified health plan may contract with—a health care provider only if such provider implements such mechanisms to improve health care quality as the Secretary may by regulation require.”

As per the Federal Register of December 2, 2013, applicable rules are now being created. Inasmuch as “quality” can encompass virtually anything, the Feds will be able to dictate, down to the most minute detail, how health care is to be delivered in the US. And, who better to work this out than abortion fanatic and soulless bureaucrat Kathleen Sebleius, aided and abetted by the ghoulish Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and powered by ideas from Dr. Donald Berwick, former Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

It is only a bit of an exaggeration to say that these two physicians exhibit the bedside manner of Josef Mengele, but I’ll let you decide.

Betsy McCaughey offers up some sound bites in a recent New York Post article…

On Emanuel: Early on, he suggested that doctors take the Hippocratic Oath too seriously “as an imperative to do everything for the patient regardless of the cost or effects on others.”

His point was that so long as doctors are in charge, cost control would not be possible. “Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records and improving quality of care are merely lipstick cost control,” he said, “more for show and public relations than true change.”

On Berwick: [He] insisted the federal government must step in between doctors and their patients to curb and redistribute the use of medical resources. Berwick said resources should be allocated based on “important subgroups.” These groups, rather than the individual patient in the doctor’s office, he said, should be the “unit of concern.”

Ah, yes. The typical liberal mindset, whereby they care deeply about humanity, but not so much about individual humans. How appropriate for the Christmas season. Berwick has re-written that passage from Matthew, “Amen, I say to you, whatever you did for one of these important subgroups of mine, you did for me.”

Or as McCaughey puts it: “In other words, these considerations are more important than what your doctor decides for you. So if you want to get the treatment your doctor suggests, you’d better hope you’re in the right demographic.”

McCaughey also reminds us that Obama said, “You’re not going to have anybody getting in between you and your doctor in your decision making.”

So much for the mendacity, consider the ironies. We should trust the Feds, who are so incompetent that they can’t even create a functional website with more than $600 million, with the very details of our health care. But here’s what is even more pathetic: In the name of “savings” on health care, they will waste countless lives and spend hundreds of billions of dollars. Talk about your brood of vipers.

As I have stated before, there is simply not enough money in the world to finance a system based on a disease care rather than a health care model. And, contrary to the good Dr. Emanuel, all attempts at cost-cutting in this paradigm are merely “lipstick cost control” when one looks at the big picture. The only question is how many will die needlessly before Sebelius and company figure that out.