McCaughey:Democrats Show Disdain for Public

Tuesday, 19 Jan 2010 12:38 PM

By Dave Eberhart

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Betsy McCaughey, a former New York lieutenant governor, health policy expert, patient advocate and constitutional historian, told Newsmax.TV that in her opinion the Democratic Congress is showing “disdain for the public and disdain for the Constitution” with its healthcare reform antics.

McCaughey lamented what she sees as a glaring difference between the debate over former President Bill Clinton's healthcare reform attempt in 1994 and the current environment. The elected representatives in Congress listened to the will of the people then, she said. “This time around, members of Congress are kowtowing to the president rather than the people.”

When asked about the less-than-ideal experiences of socialized medicine in Canada, the United Kingdom and Europe, McCaughey responded that in Europe one in four men who are diagnosed with prostate cancer dies of the disease – while in the United States there is a 99 percent chance of survival in early cases. Also, women in the United States have about a 90 percent survival rate with breast cancer – compared to Europe, “where a woman is twice as likely to die.”

See Video: McCaughey Says Dems Have Disdain for Public – Click Here Now

Newsmax.TV's Ashley Martella pointed out that during the 2008 presidential campaign, candidate Barack Obama promised to make the healthcare reform process totally transparent and fully televised on C-SPAN. Meanwhile, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi promised the most open and ethical Congress ever.

“It turns out that none of this is true,” charged Martella. “The healthcare bills were written behind closed doors in the middle of the night with amendments added in the wee hours of the morning. But there is at least one person who knows exactly what is in both the House and Senate bills,” he remarked in reference to McCaughey.

McCaughey, who sings in the same choir, waded right in on what she perceived as the disregard for the Constitution, noting that some members of Congress claim the "general welfare clause" of the Constitution empowers them to impose a mandate. But, she argues, they're taking the phrase out of context. The Constitution gives Congress power to tax and spend for the general welfare, but not to make other kinds of laws for the general welfare.

When Martella charged that provisions slipped into the Senate bill by Majority Leader Henry Reid and company mandate that certain parts of the healthcare overall cannot be changed or eliminated in the future, his guest adamantly agreed, noting that, indeed, Section 3403 of the Senate health bill – establishing a commission to cut Medicare spending – says the law can't be changed or repealed in the future.

This shows that Congress thinks its work should be set in stone, McCaughey argued. “The people always have the right to elect a new Congress to change or repeal what a previous Congress has done,” she fired.

There was some good news on the controversy surrounding so-called “death panels,” which would've ensured that money was not “wasted” on prolonging the lives of the hopelessly ill. “We can declare victory on that one,” McCaughey declared, noting that universal outrage killed the draconian idea.

On her own Web site devoted to healthcare reform, McCaughey noted the misconception that doctors spend wastefully on patients who are about to die. Numerous studies prove that is false. In 2006, Emory University researchers examining the records of patients in the year before they died found that doctors spend far less on patients who are expected to die than on patients expected to survive.

The Emory researchers said it's untrue that "lifesaving measures for patients visibly near death account for a disproportionate share of spending." They also found that doctors often can't predict when a patient is in the last year of life.

But although the death panel issue may appear beaten down and defeated, there is still some stubborn fire in the embers, McCaughey noted. The health reformers' overall plan to cut spending on patients 65 and older won't simply reduce end-of-life care, it will also eliminate care for patients who are perfectly capable of surviving their illness and going on with life, she argued.

McCaughey, chairman of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, reserved special vitriol for so-called “qualified” insurance plans.

The bill that Reid aims to pass would mandate that every American enroll in a "qualified" insurance plan. And page 149 states that "qualified" health plans can do business only with a doctor who "implements such mechanisms to improve healthcare quality as the secretary [of health and human services] may by regulation require."

But "mechanisms to improve healthcare quality" covers everything in medicine, McCaughey argued to Martella.

“Never before has the federal government intruded into medical decisions made by doctors for privately insured patients, except on such narrow issues as drug safety. Now, in the name of quality, the secretary of health and human services would be empowered to regulate your M.D.'s decisions on everything from cardiac and cancer care to childbirth.

“The delegation of power is so broad, it's conceivable that Washington will be telling your cardiologist when it's appropriate to use stents or imaging tests – and directing your gynecologist about the use of pelvic sonograms.”

What adds insult to injury, she said, is that the government will be imposing its regulations with an eye on reducing the cost of your care, even if the patient is paying for it himself: The explicit purpose of "reform" is to reduce what everyone consumes and to discourage some from getting more care than others.

Then there is the bogeyman of “rationing,” as defined at page 1,189 of the voluminous reform tome.

McCaughey argued that page 1,189 of the Senate bill gives the secretary of health and human services “authority to modify or eliminate coverage of certain preventive services,” based on what the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends.

She added that this is the same group that just called for cutting back on mammograms.

McCaughey warned that the health bill would sharply constrict payments to doctors, hospitals, specialists, health equipment manufacturers and other health providers. This would result from the expansion of Medicaid to up to 20 million more people, the $800 billion in Medicare cuts over the first full 10 years of implementation, any public option included in the final bill and other issues.

With those constricted resources, doctors, hospitals, specialists and others will no longer have the finances to provide the standard of care to which the American people are accustomed.

Moreover, these constricted payments will slaughter any incentive to invest in healthcare. As McCaughey has argued on many occasions: "Whatever your age, and whether you are in a public program or the richest 'Cadillac' plan, you'll also lose out if you need to be hospitalized – you'll find fewer nurses on the floor, less diagnostic equipment, longer waits for tests and an overall environment of scarcity…. In the end, all patients will suffer when hospitals are dirtier, ill-equipped, and understaffed."

Martella noted that although the American Medical Association has ostensibly signed onto the Democrats' healthcare reform, in fact, only a small percentage of doctors actually support the reforms.

McCaughey agreed, saying that the doctors were rightly concerned about the penetration into the doctor-patient relationship – guidelines that step in between the doctor and the patient. If it's necessary to respond to guidelines rather than what you see, feel and hear when you're evaluating a person, then the whole doctor-patient relationship is upset.

Under the new proposed legislation, she argued, the treating physician would be locked in a dilemma between doing what's right for the patient and facing a government penalty. All this would unfold against a background of doctors getting underpaid for their services – and facing a real reluctance to even provide certain services.

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