Health care reform isn’t ‘coming’, it’s already here. Snuck into
that fat stimulus bill rushed through Congress was increased spending
on the Medicaid welfare program, and the groundwork to create
a government run health care system.

I interviewed Bob Moffitt on ‘America’s Lifeline’ a few days ago, the Heritage Foundation’s Director of Health Policy Studies,
and longtime expert on the subject. Interesting….when he first arrived
at Heritage in 1991, his first task was to study President Clinton’s
plan to nationalize the US health care system. He isolated himself in a
room with nothing but the 1,342 page proposal and a few yellow legal
pads. After five days of reading and taking notes, Moffitt had drafted
Heritage’s analysis of that mammoth plan. And he proposed a
consumer-driven health care policy that would provide tax credits to
help people buy the health insurance of their choice in a competing
market.

So. Moffitt knows the field as well as anyone. He’s realistic, and
he’s concerned. “A public, government-run health plan will end
competition and unlevel the playing field and cause a massive erosion
of private health insurance,” he said. President Obama campaigned on
the promise that people who already have insurance could keep it and
nothing would change, except it would become less expensive. And on the
promise that those who don’t have health insurance will “be able to get
the same kind of health insurance Member of Congress get for
themselves” (October 2008 speech in Canton, Ohio). Moffitt says Obama
will have to break his solemn promise that every American will be able
to choose their own doctor without government intervention, because of
the ‘reform’ already underway in the congressional budget process, the
’stimulul plan’.

Something to watch and follow, says Moffitt: The ‘Federal Council
for Comparative Effectiveness’ is the beginning of the end of choice in
health care. “What will their regulatory authority be?” he asks, and
that’s the critical question because the possibility looms of it
morphing into something comparable to the British NICE system.
Moffitt calls it “the Supreme Court of Health” and says it will be
autonomous in power, even insulated from the scrutiny of Congress. Former HHS nominee Tom Daschle conceived of this omni-board, and it’s still likely to happen.

Daschle envisions a remote board of “experts,” perhaps
modeled on the Federal Reserve Board. This board, he says, would be
“insulated from politics. Congress and the White House would relinquish
some of their health-policy decisions to it.” Shielded from public
opinion and from representative government, it would have “teeth,” says
Daschle, potentially deciding such things as premiums and appropriate
services, and “all federal programs would have to abide by [its
recommendations].” He also imagines that the board would “link the tax
exclusion for health insurance to insurance that complies with the
Board’s recommendations.”

Tom Daschle’s Federal Health Board would have enormous power over
medical decisions affecting every American. This is unacceptable…

But still a very real threat, because though Daschle is not the HHS
Secretary, he was the architect of the Obama administration’s plans.

And now, a patients’ rights grassroots movement has just launched a
public awareness campaign to give people information and motivation to
be pro-active in forming whatever health care reforms Americans want
and need. Because the government’s plan, in the early going, is getting out of control.

Set against the backdrop of the $787 billion stimulus
bill and deficit spending that dwarfs the federal outlays of FDR’s New
Deal and LBJ’s “Great Society,” the idea of spending hundreds of
billions – or even trillions of tax dollars – to buy universal health
care coverage for all Americans isn’t much of a stretch anymore…

The problem is that “universal health care” and “patients’ rights,”
while sounding harmonious, are in direct conflict.  The path to
effective health care reform must be approached from the perspective of
individual patients and their relationship with their doctors, and not
from a top-down, big government perspective.  Anything that interferes
with an individual’s freedom to consult their doctor of choice to make
health care decisions defeats the purpose of meaningful health care
reform.

A government board that controls health care decisions will do that,
and much worse. Think ‘utilitarian medicine’ and ‘health care
rationing’. Especially once doctors and nurses lose their conscience
protections, and start to leave health care.

Sound Orwellian? Yes. Seem possible? Now more than ever.

Sheila Liaugminas

Sheila Liaugminas is an Emmy award-winning Chicago-based journalist in print and broadcast media. Her writing and broadcasting covers matters of faith, culture, politics and the media....