Tired of hearing that America “ranks 37th” in the world in health-care quality? Well, guess what, we’re actually more like No. 1.
Harvard Medical School professors Jerome Groopman and Pamela Hartzband (who are also physicians on the staff of Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in Boston) have an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal that explodes the myths about supposedly substandard U.S. health care and, even more significantly, points out that yes, under Obamacare bureaucrats will come between patients and their doctors and Washington will pretty much dictate what sort of care patients receive. The opinion piece is significant because Groopman, at any rate, is a staff writer for the liberal New Yorker who strongly believes in health-care reform.
Here are a couple of the myths that Groopman and Hartzband tackle:
That’s what the World Health Organization says about us–suggesting tht we’re down there with the Third World in terms of health care, even though most of us think our doctors and hospitals are first-rate.Here’s what Groopman and Hartzband say:
The World Health Organization ranks the U.S. No. 1 among all countries in “responsiveness.” Responsiveness has two components: respect for persons (including dignity, confidentiality and autonomy of individuals and families to make decisions about their own care), and client orientation (including prompt attention, access to social support networks during care, quality of basic amenities and choice of provider). This is what Americans rightly understand as quality care
and worry will be lost in the upheaval of reform. Our country’s composite score fell to 37 primarily because we lack universal coverage and care is a financial burden for many citizens.
No government bureaucrat will come between you and your doctor.
That’s what President Obama keeps telling us at town halls. Here’s what actually would happen if the House health bill becomes law, according to Groopman and Hartzband:
But his proposal to provide financial incentives to “allow doctors to do the right thing” could undermine this promise. If doctors and hospitals are rewarded for complying with government mandated treatment measures or penalized if they do not comply, clearly federal bureaucrats are directing health decisions.
Further, at the AMA convention in June 2009, the president proposed linking protection for physicians from malpractice lawsuits if they strictly adhered to government-sponsored treatment guidelines. We need tort reform, but this is misconceived and again clearly inserts the bureaucrat directly into clinical decision making. If doctors are legally protected when they follow government mandates, the converse is that doctors risk lawsuits if they deviate from federal guidelines—even if they believe the government mandate is not in the patient’s best interest. With this kind of legislation, physicians might well pressure the patient to comply with treatments even if the therapy clashes with the individual’s values and preferences.
Read the whole thing–and pass it on to your liberal friends who think that Dr. Obama offers the best prescription for our health-care ills.