Red Flags

First off, at long last I am back to the blog. It has been a busy eight-week haul of working weekends as well as during the week, but thankfully I have a few weekends off before winter quarter kicks off in January.

But I could not wait for the weekend to note several items of significant concern, as our once mighty nation hurtles toward full and irreversible government control of our healthcare system, and thus of the health of over 300 million Americans.

Senate Majority Leader Reid has announced his latest plan, complete with an accelerated schedule for strong-arming it through the Senate. Presumably he hopes there will not be enough time for thoughtful Senators to actually READ THE BILL and discover what delightful nuggets of state-run medicine lie therein.

Concurrently, we hear from a government panel called the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force that its recommendations of only six months ago — underutilization of screening mammograms in women in their 40's was likely to put many women at high risk for preventable breast cancer — were null and void, and that such screenings can be safely skipped until age 50. A link to one article on this, from Healthcare IT News, is here:

Many have observed that, curiously for a recommendation revolving around cancer, this task force includes nary an oncologist. Let it also be noted that HHS Secretary Sebelius was forced to walk back the influence of the ruling, indicating the pronouncements of this panel "don't determine what services are covered by the federal government." Then, pray tell, what is its purpose in the first place? At a time when radical liberals realize their spending bonanza has been a bust with voters, and they hence try to portray themselves as deficit cutters, there's likely to be great pressure to find areas where service coverage can be cut. Please watch this one with me.

Next. An editorial from (link at ) quotes a survey of hospital CEO's as being very concerned that a large shortage of clinical professionals, likely exacerbated by the prospect of universal access to healthcare services as presently proposed, could compromise the quality of care in hospitals.

Finally, there are rumblings in our parts about renewed and increased scrutiny of the tax-exempt status of not-for-profit healthcare entities. Of course, a major driver here is again the desperate need to come up with more dollars, from any and all possible sources, to pay for the massive healthcare boondoggle. A truly chilling possibility is that Catholic-affiliated healthcare organizations may be singled out for special "attention." Surely the ability of the Catholic bishops to persuade the House to limit taxpayer-funded plans from paying for abortions has nothing to do with this, right? And, naturally, ditto for the bishops' principled stand this week on the moral imperative for Catholic hospitals to ensure nutrition and hydration for patients in persistent vegetative states. Let's see how that position contrasts with the "end-of-life" planning that is evident in all the congressional healthcare bills. Never mind the tangible, demonstrated community benefit these hospitals provide to their communities every day. They will need to be taxed, we'll hear.

Each of these developments is troubling in its own right to a healthcare professional in a faith-based health ministry, particularly one who believes the free market can allocate economic resources (and make no mistake, provision of healthcare is an economic resource) more efficiently than can any government body. Taken together, all in half a week, they raise serious red flags that should warn us of extreme danger ahead should the current legislative and executive program be allowed to pass. Once it does, it will be too late to undo it.

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