Are radical reforms of the private health care system buried in the stimulus bill? Betsy McCaughey, whose 1994 cover story in The New Republic helped sink the Clinton Administration's health care reforms, thinks so. In an opinion piece for Bloomberg, she writes:
The bill's health rules will affect "every individual in the United States." 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. 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." . . .
Hiding health legislation in a stimulus bill is intentional. Daschle supported the Clinton administration's health-care overhaul in 1994, and attributed its failure to debate and delay. A year ago, Daschle wrote that the next president should act quickly before critics mount an opposition. "If that means attaching a health-care plan to the federal budget, so be it," he said. "The issue is too important to be stalled by Senate protocol."
I recognize McCaughey's 1994 analysis is disputed, and it is entirely possible she is mis-reading the language of the stimulus bill too. At the same time, it would not surprise me were all sorts of mischief buried deep within the massive bill. Hence my question: Is she correct in her assessment of the health care provisions of the stimulus? I would be particularly interested in the views of my co-blogger David Hyman (who's probably forgotten more about health care policy than I'll ever know) and others who follow this issue more closely than I do.