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Feds Shouldn’t Make Health Care Choices

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In Saturday’s editorial, the Albuquerque Journal quite rightly took the New Mexico Legislature to task for considering taking sides over a dispute about the proper number of nurses in Christus St. Vincent Regional Medical Center in Santa Fe, writing, “Lawmakers have no business trying to micromanage your local hospital.”

What about when federal lawmakers tell you which pill you can take for your arthritis? What about when a congressional panel decides how much your doctor’s skill and thus your health are worth? Finally (literally), what about when federal bureaucrats decide whether you can have kidney dialysis or not, that is, whether you live or die?

When Congress does that, they are guilty of “nanomanaging” – a thousand times worse than micromanaging.

Congressional nanomanaging of health care harms us in two ways: It wastes our money and kills us, literally.

Start with the money.

The figure touted for administrative cost of Medicare is 3 percent. You would therefore presume that 97 percent of Medicare money goes to patients as goods and services. Reasonable and wrong.

Hundreds of billions of Medicare dollars are wasted on regulatory compliance and oversight, remediation, duplication and inefficiency. Neither the precise amount nor even a percentage is known because the government does not keep track of how much money it consumes indirectly.

As for killing us, nanomanagement of health care by Congress forced Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to choose between fighter jets and health benefits for military personnel.

Nanomanagement and its handmaiden bureaucracy requires half, repeat half, of a doctor’s allotted time with a patient to do paperwork.

Nanomanagement is heading toward denial of life-saving services because the “beast” (government) gets fed first: Patients and providers get what is left over.

Just look at people dying in Canada waiting in line for “approved” care, or those dying in Great Britain because they are too old for NHS-approved treatments.

Lest you accuse me of exaggeration, each assertion herein can be proven in newspapers and on TV: Canadian, British and C-SPAN.

It is nanomanagement of health care that produced a bill more than 2,400 pages long claiming to “reform” health care; that consumes 40 cents out of every health care dollar spent in the United States every year; and that found my hospital out of compliance because the books in my office were too tall. (It’s true. My imagination couldn’t make up something like that!)

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