THE BLOG
03/15/2009 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The "Stimulus" Is Stimulating My Upchuck Reflex

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They are slipping it to us again! I do not refer to the bailout monies in the stimulus bill (although we certainly could discuss that). I refer to parts of the bill that have nothing to do with the economy and stimulate primarily my upchuck reflex.

When our legislators slip it to us by putting some financially advantageous - but only to their constituency - provision that has nothing to do with any bill's ostensible purpose, we call that pork. How fondly we remember the bridge to nowhere.

What is it called when the "pork" is something non-financial that the legislators want to pass into law but do not want us to know? I think the word is...underhandedness, mendacity, under-the-table-deal, deceitfulness, and just plain wrong. When the subterfuge is hidden in a desperately and immediately sought piece of legislation such as the current stimulus bill, they are adding a game called chicken. If you learn about the hidden provision, have you the courage to stop the bill until the extraneous provision is deleted?
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The so-called "Stimulus Bill" contains language creating a federal health information system to be used to track whether doctors are being cost effective in their care of patients. No joke. Read the Bill! There are numerous things wrong with this. I will list just the major issues.

Federal takeover was part of Tom Daschle's "fix" for healthcare. Even though he is not the Secretary of HHS, I surmise that his ideas for healthcare are being followed.

The most obvious and critical issue is: what does federal oversight of medicine have to do with bolstering confidence and restarting our stagnant economy? As Senator Olympia Snowe from Maine said in recent interview, "The whole issue [for the stimulus bill] is: What is the job creation value of each provision?" As always, she is spot on. The simple answer to her question is: control of healthcare has nothing whatsoever to do with job creation. The (pseudo-) tongue-in-cheek answer is that these healthcare provisions will generate jobs for overseers of the providers. However, the net job effect will be negative as more doctors and nurses will quit.

"Cost effective" defined by whom? The British NHS has been struggling for years to develop guidelines for cost effective medicine, with very limited success. Most important, when cost effective means spending the least money, the cheapest and therefore most "cost effective" (really cost efficient) solution for kidney disease, heart failure, arthritis, asthma, diabetes, etc. is a bullet. My drama is not excessive. As long as reduction in short-term expenses is the primary desired outcome, they will deny, delay or defer health care for anyone with a serious or chronic condition.

Third but possibly of greatest importance, any law that has long-term implications for our entire populace, such as Federal control of health care, should be widely and extensively discussed, not slipped in under the radar as a rider on an emergency financial bill that has nothing to do with healthcare.

Didn't our new president promise transparency and openness? Shame on our Congress. I have to go now and visit the toilet bowl: my upchuck reflex is active. After I have recovered, I will consider whether I have finally had enough and give up practicing medicine.

Let's stimulate our Congresspeople to be up front with us!