- Split the difference on a formula for allocating a Medicaid funding increase to states. 65% of the funding would be doled out on an across-the-board, flat rate basis to each state, while 35% would be distributed based on increases in unemployment. Originally, the House had used a 50-50 formula, while the Senate preferred an 80-20 split.
- Adopted the House’s higher 65% subsidy for COBRA (the Senate had a 50% subsidy) but agreed in turn to drop its proposal to increase Medicaid coverage to help lower income individuals face the same insurance dilemma and can’t afford to pay even a subsidized COBRA payment.
The House will vote on the compromise on Thursday, and the Senate on Friday.
Despite reading two statements to the contrary, the hosts and their guest continued to mischaractarize the provisions as a socialist government takeover of health care that would result in Big Brother watching over Americans’ shoulders. It wasn’t until the program’s 10 o’clock hour that Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD) set the record straight.
Indeed, the National Coordinator of Health Information Technology would establish minimum privacy standards for technology vendors selling health IT equipment to doctors, but does not grant the federal government access to the confidential documents; nor does it require physicians to follow treatment guidelines. In order to become “meaningful users” of health IT, doctors have to implement an electronic system by 2015, they are not required to change their treatment practices.
Health IT should be what railroad tracks were for transportation 150 years ago: basic infrastructure. A modernized, interconnected health system that electronically links patients, physicians, hospitals, pharmacies, public health agencies, payers and key emergency responders would allow all to share accurate, patient-protected information, and that will undoubtedly save lives and save money…Second, health IT will allow us to capture data and then determine which treatments work and which do not. Today, only about 10 percent of all health care is based on evidence. That means that 90 percent of the care we receive is, basically, informed opinion. We need a rigorous, clear system to measure the costs, benefits and value of a given procedure, technology or drug.
Gingrich and the other lawmakers who believe that Health IT could lay the foundation for comparative effectiveness research aren’t advocating for the rationing of medical care, as Fox News and one absolutely hysterical editorial in today’s Washington Times suggest. The goal here is to provide doctors with information about good treatments, improve medical outcomes, and to stop spending money on procedures that don’t work and harm patients. As Tim Foley explains:
We know there’s a problem here, with a Dartmouth College study approximating at least $700 billion is spent each year on treatments that don’t lead to better health. But we don’t know the specifics until we analyze the data. If I was a responsible steward of taxpayer’s money, I’d want to know what we’re spending money on that doesn’t work.
While Rush Limbaugh has taken credit for spreading the health IT falsehood, the real mastermind behind the story may be Betsy McCaughey, Gov. George Pataki’s (R-NY) Lieutenant Governor during his first term and an Adjunct Fellow at the conservative Hudson Institute.
McCaughey wrote the Bloomberg editorial that sparked the Fox News coverage and as the Atlantic’s James Fallows notes in his article about why President Clinton’s health reform efforts failed, she’s quite the trouble maker:
Much of the problem for the plan seemed, at least in Washington, to come not even from mandatory alliances but from an article by Elizabeth McCaughey, then of the Manhattan Institute, published in The New Republic last February. The article’s working premise was that McCaughey, with no ax to grind and no preconceptions about health care, sat down for a careful reading of the whole Clinton bill. Appalled at the hidden provisions she found, she felt it her duty to warn people about what the bill might mean. The title of her article was “No Exit,” and the message was that Bill and Hillary Clinton had proposed a system that would lock people in to government-run care. “The law will prevent you from going outside the system to buy basic health coverage you think is better,” McCaughey wrote in the first paragraph. “The doctor can be paid only by the plan, not by you.”
Fallows goes on to explain that “these claims…were simply false”:
Her shocked claim that coverage would be available only for “necessary” and “appropriate” treatment suggested that she had not looked at any of today’s insurance policies. In claiming that the bill would make it impossible to go outside the health plan or pay doctors on one’s own, she had apparently skipped past practically the first provision of the bill (Sec. 1003), which said, “Nothing in this Act shall be construed as prohibiting the following: (1) An individual from purchasing any health care services.”
You get the picture. By cherry picking certain words in the bill that neatly conform to a conservative narrative about comprehensive health reform, McCaughey sparks outrage and instantly becoming the darling of the right. In a throw back to her earlier work, Fox News packaged her editorial — which they described as an article — as an archeological discovery for the ages.
Then and now, facts don’t matter. And this time around, McCaughey has Fox News to broadcast her findings far and wide.
I’m tracking the Betsy misinformation tour. Last night, McCaughey appeared on FNC’s Glenn Beck, CNN’s Lou Dobbs and the Laura Ingraham radio show. Today, she was a guest on FNC’s America’s Newsroom. Where else did you catch her?