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Rationing Healthcare Creates Jobs?

The opinions expressed by columnists are their own and do not necessarily represent the views of Townhall.com.

Every day Americans learn about another outrageous, irrelevant spending provision in Democrats’ so-called stimulus bill.

There’s money for global warming. There’s money for sex education. There’s money for Amtrak. There’s money for unions. There’s money to buy new cars and office space for bureaucrats. They’re even doing golf course renovations. Who knows, maybe they’ll even fix-up my rain gutter.

But here’s the bottom line: this bill has everything except economic stimulus. It’s just one big, sordid payback for Democrat special interests.

Congress has now become the make-a-wish foundation for greedy politicians.

And unfortunately, it gets much worse. Not only is the bill loaded with pork that will burden, rather than spur, the economy, but it also contains a dangerous – and overlooked – provision to begin handing over Americans’ healthcare freedom to bureaucrats.

It’s called “Comparative Effectiveness Research.” While it sounds innocuous, the worst big-government programs always do. In short, comparative effectiveness research is a tool for bureaucrats take your health care decisions away from you and your doctor. Washington Liberals plan to use this “research” to determine which medical treatments are, or are not, ‘cost-effective,’ as they determine.

Just read the words from the House Appropriations Committee’s own report on the stimulus regarding this provision: “Those items, procedures, and interventions… that are found to be less effective and in some cases, more expensive, will no longer be prescribed.” In reaction, 63 patient advocacy groups including the AIDS Institute, the Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, and the American Association for Cancer Research, have written a letter to Congress, expressing their concerns. They explained that this provision could lead to “restrictions on patients’ access to treatments and physicians’ and other providers’ ability to deliver care that best meets the needs of the individual patient.”

A federal health care board proposed and envisioned by several leading Democrats will result in comparative effectiveness research being used to ration health care in America. Rather than patients and doctors making decisions about what treatments or drugs make sense for you and your loved ones, a federal health care board will control which health care options are available.

Using “comparative effectiveness,” countries which already have government-run healthcare deny patients life-saving medical treatment. It’s been used, for instance, by the UK’s National Center for Health and Clinical Excellence to repeatedly denying breakthrough drugs to citizens suffering with breast cancer, Alzheimer’s, and multiple sclerosis.

Consider the case of UK resident George Robinson, a lung cancer patient who died while waiting for the life-extending drug Tarceva. The National Center for Health and Clinical Excellence has recently deemed the drug to not be cost-effective. And now, 2,000 lung cancer patients may soon face Robinson’s fate.

Government-run healthcare, which rations care to hold down cost, is a menace to free people everywhere. There are many thousands who would be alive today but for the monstrous myth that nationalized medicine works. And Comparative Effectiveness Research – shamelessly concealed in the stimulus bill – marches America toward that dreaded future when our most private medical decisions are made by far-off elites in Washington, D.C.

That day is now closer than ever. Recall that Tom Daschle – a leading force for government-run healthcare – nearly became Director of Health and Human Services. We dodged a bullet with Daschle, but the fight against government control of healthcare has only begun.

And in that fight, we must remember that freedom is as precious as it is vulnerable. It takes constant vigilance to preserve. But when taken for only a short time it may take generations to return. For the sake of our children, and theirs after, we must defend this basic freedom. We must not let history record that it was lost the day we were standing watch.

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