Monday, February 16, 2009

Digital Health Care: Stimulus or Socialism? (With Mr. Subliminal)

The headlines: Some say spending $19B to computerize medical records will lead to jobs (yah, waa-hoo). Others see the start of nationalized health care (boo-hoo).

So, is that $19 billion intended to create much-needed jobs and fix a health care system that's choking on paper (tree killers)? Or is it a stealthy opening move toward national health care (the evil empire)?

Many economists and health care experts (But what do they know?) say the plan is worthy of stimulus money because it will create tens of thousands of jobs in information technology, and other computer-related industries (the genius's need work).

But, many Congressional Republicans (blah, blah), conservatives, my brother-in-law included, and Mr. Robert Moffit at the Center of Health Policy at the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, have said that the provision is nothing more that a Trojan horse for the Obama White House's true aim (turning us into a Nazi state) - transforming the nation's health care policy with as little public debate as possible, heading toward a European-style health care system with rationed medical care (the dreaded Socialism).

The American Medical Association (real people in the medical field that know what they're talking about) responded to these statements saying that the provisions wouldn't "create a federal system for electronically tracking patients medical treatments or for monitoring compliance with federal treatment standards."

Not all Republicans are unhappy though (?????). David Merritt, project director of the Center for Health Transformation, a group founded by Newt Gingrich (oh heaven help us), said the health technology provision is a job-creator and is needed to rescue the nation's health care system (hell has indeed frozen over).

It's no secret that I think something needs to be done about health care in this country, see here, and here, and this new legislation seems to be a way to create jobs, cut health care costs, cut back on paper products, and make things easier for medical professionals. So, what's the problem? Must we lag behind other countries and remain in the 20th century forever just because this may lead to nationalized care (France here we come!)?

I just don't get it. I think we should drastically cut the insurance benefits of those in Congress (just like about every other business in the country right now), and see how quickly health care becomes a priority for BOTH parties.

Now that would be CHANGE we can believe in.


Peter said...

While on the topic of health care--one of our guys over at Thinking or Sitting is going under the knife today, reasonably serious stuff. Now Doc Magoo, our resident physics prof geek, is an atheist, but this Lutheran will toss a prayer his way, and all others are appreciated!

And I really wish I could get people off "socialized medicine." No one here is seriously advocating for the UK approach of having the government employ medical professionals. Rather, the goal is SINGLE PAYOR, a la Medicare, which works WAY more efficiently than private insurance.

Lula O said...

I'm sorry about the Doc. I hope all bodes well.

I'm tired of hearing about socialized medicine as well. I read in Newsweek yesterday that the medical profession and Reagan, swore up and down the passage of Medicare and Medicaid would transform the United States into an English-speaking version of the USSR.

Did that happen? Not that I know of.

Ben and Christina said...

I haven't researched this much, but I have heard people in the medical field say this will truly save lives. Who wouldn't want that? To me, it just makes sense to have our information accessible to all doctors across the country, so when I am in Seattle visiting my family and have a heart attack, they can look at my medical history to know if I'm allergic to medicine, what my history is, etc. It makes for a better system!

I think that every little thing Obama does (like allowing his daughters to have sleepovers at the White House) will somehow be called "socialism"- just another tired scared tactic.

The Bradfords said...

You're right on about Congress needing their benefits changed to mirror the rest of us a little more. That definitely would produce a change. I'll be on board with anything that improves our current system, provides proper and affordable medical care for my family and cuts the red tape a little. BTW I go to a paperless doctors' office and I think it's totally cool.

Bryce and Mandy said...

Very funny! I got a kick out of your side comments on this. :)

I don't understand what all the fuss is about. Lots of things progress from paper to paper-less. Just look at the card catalog system in libraries. Remember looking up each little card to try and find the book you were looking for and hoping someone hadn't taken it out and not put it back? Look at the system now. Was that a bad idea? I don't think so! It is so much easier being on a computer.

A summer job I had during college awhile ago was scanning all of Boise State's transcripts of everyone who ever went to BSU into the computer so it was easier for teachers/administrators to access. No more walking to the vault and trying to find it. Just doing it via computer. Not to mention it was much more organized (you wouldn't believe how many of them were out of order, it was a mess!)

I think it is a great idea for doctor's offices to go paperless. It just seems like it will be so much easier for all involved and they will be able to stay more organized. One of my doctors is paperless and the other is not. I was shocked when one actually handed me a prescription to take to the pharmacy. I was so used to the other one who just faxed it to the pharmacy directly and I go pick it up. No waiting time involved. Much easier! Plus no crazy writing to try and decipher.

okbushmans said...

You all know my opinion of "socialized health care" or Medicare for all. As someone who has been on Medicare, I am completely against it. It was the most inefficient and frustrating experience I have had with health care (including going 8 months without health care). And as someone who's father loses money in his doctor's office because of how inefficient and unorganized Medicare and Medicaid is, and how little the government insists on paying for the same care other insurance companies pay for, I am against it.
The concept of everyone having health coverage is a goal we can all agree on. But having a govt run health care would be a nightmare. Has anyone had better experiences with Medicare? Because almost everyone I've talked with shares the same experiences.

Lula O said...

I agree nationalized care may not be the way to go, and yes Medicaid is not as efficient as it could be. But I just don't see how computerizing records is a step in that direction. I think reducing cost should be a main goal here. At least it's a start. Since your father is a doctor, I'm curious if you know what he thinks of this new thing they plan to do. Will it not make his life a little easier? Has he already gone paperless?

Lula O said...

Just in case some of you youngin's don't know who Mr. Subliminal is (Mandy), he was a character done by Kevin Nealon on SNL in the late eighties, early nineties, usually during Weekend Update. I couldn't find a clip on youtube, but you might try if you're interested in catching a glimpse. Funny, funny stuff.

Peter said...

We also have to distinguish between Medicare and Medicaid. Medicare generally involves direct insurance through the federal government, while Medicaid is operated by the states. Medicare is usually much more efficient than Medicaid, I know my dad loves it now and it was great while my mom was ill.

Anonymous said...

If our new president tries to change our medical care system significantly I believe he will fail. All over our economy are scattered doctors, medical equipment makers, drug companies, rehabilitation businesses, home health care nurse businesses, nursing homes, etc., etc. that siphon off money from employer-insurers and from medicare as people are treated.

They are all BUSINESSES, which means that the main thing the health care system means to them is PROFIT. This makes our system incredibly inefficient, monetarily speaking.

That's why a single payor system would transform this mess into an efficient system. Either we could have a NON-PROFIT national health service, or we could have one payor that would have tremendous bargaining power to reduce costs. However, because all those BUSINESSES do not want to loose their profit they will fight change tooth and nail.

And the greatest holders of money with which to fight are insurance companies. Their level of bribery and production of bullshit advertisements will be gigantic.

They can't be beat 'til the present system gets so bad that a large percentage of middle class and upper middle class people can't afford health care. It

Lula O said...

I will agree with you there nightman1. The insurance companies will fight tooth and nail to keep it as it is, meaning they continue to make piles of money with no one stopping them, much like the NRA stops legislation it feels goes against its money making interests.

As far as the middle class not being able to afford health care. I believe we are already there. They, I mean we, are taking the biggest hit now. Especially now, with alot of companies increasing their premiums or dropping coverage for their workers altogether.

We make too much to qualify for Medicaid, and not enough to have a low deductable, if we can even get insurance at all.
In essense, we ARE the ones getting screwed.