Friday, December 18, 2009

Coburn: The Health Bill Is Scary

The December 16, 2009 Wall Street Journal published the following OpEd by US Senator Tom Coburn (himself a practicing physician) entitled, "The Health Bill Is Scary".

He warns that even though the "public option" may be off the table for now, there are still several frightening provisions of the ObamaCare bill that would lead to rationing. Here is an excerpt:
...Additionally, the Reid bill depends on the recommendations of the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force in no fewer than 14 places. This task force was responsible for advising women under 50 to not undergo annual mammograms. The administration claims the task force recommendations do not carry the force of law, but the Reid bill itself contradicts them in section 2713. The bill explicitly states, on page 17, that health insurance plans "shall provide coverage for" services approved by the task force. This chilling provision represents the government stepping between doctors and patients. When the government asserts the power to provide care, it also asserts the power to deny care.

...But the most fundamental flaw of the Reid bill is best captured by the story of one my patients I'll call Sheila. When Sheila came to me at the age of 33 with a lump in her breast, traditional tests like a mammogram under the standard of care indicated she had a cyst and nothing more. Because I knew her medical history, I wasn't convinced. I aspirated the cyst and discovered she had a highly malignant form of breast cancer. Sheila fought a heroic battle against breast cancer and enjoyed 12 good years with her family before succumbing to the disease.

If I had been practicing under the Reid bill, the government would have likely told me I couldn't have done the test that discovered Sheila's cancer because it wasn't approved under CER. Under the Reid bill, Sheila may have lived another year instead of 12, and her daughters would have missed a decade with their mom.
(Read the full text of "The Health Bill Is Scary".)

Senator Coburn is completely right about this. Americans who value their health must not let down their guard. Instead, we must continue to let our elected officials know where we stand.

(Note: I agree with Coburn on most of his health care policy positions, but I have sharp disagreements with him on a variety of so-called "social issues".)