Rush Limbaugh repeated a falsehood in a Bloomberg "commentary" by Betsy McCaughey that claimed that under a provision in the House-passed economic recovery bill, "[o]ne 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." In fact, the provisions McCaughey referenced address establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."
On February 9, Rush Limbaugh repeated a falsehood from a Bloomberg "commentary" by Betsy McCaughey, headlined "Ruin Your Health With the Obama Stimulus Plan." In the commentary, McCaughey falsely claimed that under provisions in the economic recovery bill passed by House Democrats, "[o]ne 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." In fact, the language in the House bill that McCaughey, a former lieutenant governor of New York, referenced does not establish authority to "monitor treatments" or restrict what "your doctor is doing" with regard to patient care, but rather addresses establishing an electronic records system such that doctors would have complete, accurate information about their patients "to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care."
On the February 9 broadcast of Premiere Radio Networks' The Rush Limbaugh Show, Limbaugh repeated McCaughey's falsehood, saying:
LIMBAUGH: Betsy McCaughey has written a column at Bloomberg detailing some of the most onerous provisions in this stimulus bill on health care. And there's a new bureaucracy created, the national coordinator of health information technology. Now, listen to this. The national coordinator of health information technology will monitor treatments that your doctor gives you to make sure your doctor is doing what the federal government deems appropriate and cost-effective.
On the conservative blog Wizbang, Kim Priestap also referenced the commentary in a February 9 post:
Read all of Betsy's article and then pass it on to everyone you know. Rush has been all over this today to bring it to people's attention. Call your senators and representatives. Currently, phone calls to Capitol Hill are 100 to 1 against the bill. We need to do more. This is why Barack Obama is going all over the country scaring the American people into believing that our economy could collapse if the bill isn't passed. He wants this made into law before anyone knows that nationalized -- and rationed -- health care will be the result. If you have a loved one with a serious medical condition, this will be detrimental to his or her life. [Emphases in original.]
By 10:40 p.m. ET, the Drudge Report linked to McCaughey's commentary using the headline " 'National Coordinator of Health Information Technology' Slipped in to Stimulus...":
From the bill:
SEC. 3001. OFFICE OF THE NATIONAL COORDINATOR FOR HEALTH INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY.
"(a) Establishment-- There is established within the Department of Health and Human Services an Office of the National Coordinator for Health Information Technology (referred to in this section as the 'Office'). The Office shall be headed by a National Coordinator who shall be appointed by the Secretary and shall report directly to the Secretary.
"(b) Purpose-- The National Coordinator shall perform the duties under subsection (c) in a manner consistent with the development of a nationwide health information technology infrastructure that allows for the electronic use and exchange of information and that--
"(1) ensures that each patient's health information is secure and protected, in accordance with applicable law;
"(2) improves health care quality, reduces medical errors, reduces health disparities, and advances the delivery of patient-centered medical care;
"(3) reduces health care costs resulting from inefficiency, medical errors, inappropriate care, duplicative care, and incomplete information;
"(4) provides appropriate information to help guide medical decisions at the time and place of care;
"(5) ensures the inclusion of meaningful public input in such development of such infrastructure;
"(6) improves the coordination of care and information among hospitals, laboratories, physician offices, and other entities through an effective infrastructure for the secure and authorized exchange of health care information;
"(7) improves public health activities and facilitates the early identification and rapid response to public health threats and emergencies, including bioterror events and infectious disease outbreaks;
"(8) facilitates health and clinical research and health care quality;
"(9) promotes prevention of chronic diseases;
"(10) promotes a more effective marketplace, greater competition, greater systems analysis, increased consumer choice, and improved outcomes in health care services; and
"(11) improves efforts to reduce health disparities.
From McCaughey's commentary:
Republican Senators are questioning whether President Barack Obama's stimulus bill contains the right mix of tax breaks and cash infusions to jump-start the economy.
Tragically, no one from either party is objecting to the health provisions slipped in without discussion. These provisions reflect the handiwork of Tom Daschle, until recently the nominee to head the Health and Human Services Department.
Senators should read these provisions and vote against them because they are dangerous to your health. (Page numbers refer to H.R. 1 EH, pdf version).
The bill's health rules will affect "every individual in the United States" (445, 454, 479). 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 (442, 446). 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."
Keeping doctors informed of the newest medical findings is important, but enforcing uniformity goes too far.