[EDIT 2/25/09: The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 is now law, as everyone with a TV, radio or computer has surely heard. I was not able to find anything saying the health care provisions had been removed. In his State of the Union address last night, President Obama made it clear that he wants health care reform to happen this year. Hopefully the majority will allow the people to know what's going on, and we can debate whether or not we want government doing comparative research and making decisions for us.] Yesterday, the Senate passed the economic stimulus bill, and with it, provisions to move our country toward socialized (government-run) medicine. These provisions are frightening on many levels, and if Americans actually had a chance to vote on this, its failure would be sure. Instead, the majority in the House and Senate are trying to rush it through under the cover of night and get it quickly to President Barack Obama for signature.
The Heritage Foundation's Nina Owcharenko summarizes it this way: "Veiled under this massive economic stimulus proposal are profoundly controversial and far-reaching health care provisions that would set the country on a path toward more fiscal irresponsibility, mounting unfunded entitlement liabilities, and less control of families over their personal health care decisions." She explains that the bill would "establish a framework and funding for comparative effectiveness research and health information technology," which would open a portal to "direct government intervention in the clinical decisions by physicians and other health care providers."
To read more of the Heritage Foundation article, click here. You can also find more articles at Townhall.com, such as this one by Rep. John Shadegg (R-Arizona). This Bloomberg.com article is also informative. According to Tom Daschle (whose handiwork is reflected in the provisions), doctors have to give up autonomy and "learn to operate less like solo practitioners," the article reports.
For anyone who cares about freedom of medical decisions and doesn't want the government making personal health choices for them, this "economic stimulus" package is impossible to support in its current form. It is of utter importance that as many Americans hear about these provisions and make phone calls and send emails to the Hill. The Capitol Switchboard number is 202-224-3121 (you'll need to tell the operator where you're from so he/she can connect you) and you can use the House and Senate Web sites to look up direct numbers or email addresses for your representatives. Please spread the word.
One Congresswoman who is in the minority party has started a blog to keep us folks "outside the beltway" up to date on happenings on the Hill. I look forward to seeing if it actually turns out to be useful! You can check out her blog here: http://majoritytracker.wordpress.com/
To put it like one blog commenter said, "I have a hard time thinking of anything that the government runs better than the private sector." Who is a better decision-maker for your health care than you and your doctor? What about for your children? People living in countries where health care is run by the government would gravely warn us about falling into this trap. Please act.
Sample E-mail (thanks to Nina Owcharenko's article for some of the wording!) to your reps: Dear ______, I am writing today to urge you to please do your part to remove or revise the health care provisions in the economic stimulus bill. I ask you to please remove the funding for the comparative effectiveness and health information technology. If Congress wants to enact such provisions, it should do so not tagged on a fast-tracked stimulus bill but with a full and public debate so that the American people understand the impact of these health care decisions on their lives. Any other course would be a betrayal of the President's promise of openness with American people. Please do not allow this great nation of ours, where personal freedom and entrepreneurship are beacons of our heritage, to move toward socialized medicine. This is not the right direction for the American people. Sincerely, ________