Mona Charen

Starting during the campaign, President Obama touted digital medical records to reduce errors, improve care, and cut costs. More than $19 billion of stimulus funds were earmarked for it. But when the Washington Post examined the matter, they discovered that digital records not only fail to produce the promised benefits, they actually reduce efficiency and cause errors. The digital systems currently available give physicians too much information. Pages upon pages of digital information document every conceivable ailment a patient might have. Doctors have difficulty wading through all of the unnecessary data to reach the critical information. One emergency room physician at a hospital that had adopted a digital system complained, "It's been a complete nightmare. I can't see my patients because I'm at a screen entering data . ... Physician productivity and satisfaction have fallen off a cliff." Some hospitals have adopted digital systems only to abandon them.

Another silver bullet the administration has peddled is preventive care. Everyone knows that a timely PSA test will detect prostate cancer at an early and treatable phase thus saving the patient's life and saving money, right? Not exactly. The test is obviously worthwhile for that individual. But testing all men for prostate cancer -- an overwhelming majority of whom will never get the disease -- is expensive. If more and more of us are tested for more and more diseases -- even accounting for some illnesses found early -- health spending will rise, not fall. Further complicating the picture, the National Cancer Society has announced that the benefits of cancer screenings, particularly for breast and prostate cancers, have been oversold. They aren't saving very many lives, but they are causing needless tests and surgeries.

The Baucus bill -- even before being melded with House versions -- weighed in at 1,502 pages of new taxes, fees, and mandates. Every single page proclaims something that is dubious -- that the Democrats know what they are doing.

Mona Charen

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist, political analyst and author of Do-Gooders: How Liberals Hurt Those They Claim to Help .
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