Thursday, May 11, 2006

Minnesota House Says Yes to Government Medical Decision-Making and Tracking Bureaucracy

Posted by Craig Westover | 8:48 PM |  

Twila Brase of the Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC) may sound a little overwrought in this press release, but with good reason. This is an extremely bad bit of policy-making.

Minnesota House Says Yes to Government
Medical Decision-Making and Tracking Bureaucracy

Saint Paul, Minnesota--Patients are in serious trouble as a result of today's vote in the Minnesota House, says Citizens' Council on Health Care (CCHC), who helped draft an amendment to House File 1862 to put patients and doctors in control of medical decisions.

"Lawmakers are turning over the practice of medicine to government," said Twila Brase, president of CCHC.

"Off-site outsiders with their own agendas and bias will be in charge of treatment decisions and empowered to penalize any non-compliant health care provider," she explained.

Today's vote was against the amendment, authored by Rep. Mark Olson (R-Big Lake) and supported by GOP and DFL members, to sunset last year's controversial health care "performance reporting" law in four years. The law, the subject of a statewide citizen petition campaign, requires state government to:

* decide what medical treatments are "evidence-based."

* collect private patient medical data without patient consent to monitor health care provider compliance with these government-issued treatments.

* create public report cards on provider compliance.

Despite the impassioned pleas of Rep. Karen Klinzing (R-Woodbury), who told how her infant son was denied medical treatment based on the so-called "evidence-based" decisions of "some task force, some board" far removed from the doctor's office, the House voted 100 - 30 to support the 2005 medical decision-making and tracking bureaucracy.

"The House said 'yes' to Big Government and 'yes' to health care rationing," said Brase.

"The House thinks controlling the physician is the answer to health care costs. They couldn't be more wrong," argued Brase. "The only question is, how many patients will be forced to suffer delay, denial, disability, or death before they figure it out."

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Citizens' Council on Health Care is a non-profit, independent health care policy organization that supports free-market ideas in health care.

Evidence-based medicine sounds like a good thing, but in practice, it is not what it sounds like. Essentially, standard procedure guidelines will be created based on “best practices,” defined as those practices proven to be medically effective in the majority of cases. A side benefit is cost of treatment following best practices is known and can be controlled. So far so good. But stop for a moment and think about the motivating factors for physicians.

Doctors will receive a report card based not on patient outcomes, but on how rigorously they follow best practices. All well in good if you happen to be in the majority that make up the target for best practice medicine. But where does biological diversity come into play. Anytime a doctor varies from the guidelines, he or she gets dinged. The press release is right -- this policy takes the practice of medicine out of the hands of doctors and patients.

This is a topic that deserves more coverage.