By Rick Scott, chairman, Conservatives for Patients’ Rights; founder, Solantic Corp. (Florida urge - 04/23/09 06:19 PM EDT
If you answered, “the United States of America,” let me congratulate you for paying attention. During the first few months of the Obama administration we have already seen more healthcare reform than Hillary Clinton could realistically have hoped to pass back in 1993.
In England, they have the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, more commonly known as “NICE,” the Orwellian-named government board that does “comparative research” and decides how much each citizen’s life is worth. Here in the United States, we now have the Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research. While the acronym is not as charming as “NICE,” the mission is similar.
Health reform radicals howl when it’s pointed out that the board’s true mission is to determine which treatments are “cost-effective,” claiming that language in the law prohibits them from making specific recommendations based on cost. But that’s just smoke and mirrors designed to distract Americans from the truth: the board controls a $1.1 billion budget and will recommend how to direct future research dollars. Clearly, cost-effectiveness is the primary metric the board will measure.
The legal language creating this ominous national board was buried in the stimulus package details that — we now know — nobody read. Four hundred million dollars went to the Department of Health and Human Services, another $400 million to the National Institutes of Health, and finally $300 million more to yet another nest of bureaucrats you’ve never heard of called the Agency for Health Care Research and Quality. In all, $1.1 billion has been budgeted for “comparative effectiveness research.”
There have been other steps toward socialized medicine as well. Congress has aggressively expanded the funding and relaxed the rules of eligibility for Medicare, Medicaid and the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, which already provided government healthcare to children and adults alike who are above the poverty level and arguably could afford private coverage.
This is “stealth care.” President Obama and single-payer zealots on Capitol Hill have been very effective at ramming provision after provision through Congress. If this were Greek mythology, Obama’s Trojan Horse has taken shape in the form of the massive stimulus package and federal budget, and like the ancient soldiers who sacked Troy the pieces of socialized medicine are slowly assembling themselves inside the walls of an American healthcare system envied the world over.
Fortunately it’s not too late. While President Obama and Congress continue to pick the low-hanging fruit, they still need to make some major moves to establish true socialized medicine in this country.
In fact, the next steps are so big, so massive and so unaffordable that some Democrats in Congress are already talking about changing how they do the math on healthcare reform so the numbers will work. Senate Finance Committee Chairman Max Baucus (D-Mont.) even had the audacity to order the Congressional Budget Office to be “more creative” to “get the savings — both practically and politically — to get healthcare reform.”
Translation: “Cook the books.”
When CBO’s array of supercomputers can’t make the math work, the Senate plans to just ram government healthcare down America’s throat no matter what –— even if it means inserting healthcare reform into the budget reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority as opposed to support from 60 senators normally needed for all other legislation.
We can still prevent the rationed care, waiting lists and treatments deemed to be too costly by bureaucrats that are the hallmarks of failure in both the British and Canadian government-run systems. But we have to stand firm behind the four pillars of free-market healthcare reform: choice, competition, accountability and rewarding personal responsibility. And we must pay close attention to ensure liberals in Congress don’t use more sleight-of-hand to take away our choices and undermine our system from within.
Spotlight on spying
From James P. Rudolph, esq.
Your April 22 editorial “Espionage is back” noted the possible ethical problems faced by Rep. Jane Harman (D-Calif.), who reportedly had an improper quid pro quo relationship with “lobbyists who now stand accused of spying for Israel.” This is explosive stuff if — and that if cannot be stressed enough — the allegations are borne out.
But beyond that, your editorial also sagely suggested moving espionage from the back burner (where it doubtless and understandably has been during the economic crisis) to its rightful place at the top of a very crowded agenda. Technology and ease of movement in and out of the U.S. form a double-edged sword — they can help our cause when we need intelligence, but also make us more susceptible.
As you say, this fact, along with others, underscores the need to examine and bolster our espionage defenses. The Obama administration thus far has struck the right balance between the need for openness and information, the lifeblood of a democracy, and the need for secrecy, the lifeblood of clandestine operations. Both are important aspects of our society, despite the fact that at times they can be irreconcilable.