House Republican Leader John Boehner’s office has released a new video mocking President Obama for seemingly dispensing medical advice:
Like the old joke goes, President Obama isn’t a doctor, but he plays one on TV — giving Americans a discomforting glimpse of life under ObamaCare, with government leaders and bureaucrats dispensing medical opinions that are better left to doctors, medical professionals, and patients. This is a lighthearted video, but it underscores a serious point that Congressional Democrats are going to hear throughout August as they travel outside of Washington: Americans want lower health care costs – not a trillion-dollar government takeover of health care that increases costs and lets Washington bureaucrats make decisions that should be made by doctors and patients.
Since Boehner is obviously taking Obama’s statements out of context, I thought I’d just point out the proper context in which Obama made these remarks.
Right now doctors a lot of times are forced to make decisions based on the fee payment schedule that’s out there.
So if they’re looking — and you come in and you’ve got a bad sore throat, or your child has a bad sore throat or has repeated sore throats, the doctor may look at the reimbursement system and say to himself, you know what, I make a lot more money if I take this kid’s tonsils out. Now that may be the right thing to do, but I’d rather have that doctor making those decisions just based on whether you really need your kid’s tonsils out or whether it might make more sense just to change — maybe they have allergies, maybe they have something else that would make a difference.
Why would we want to pay for things that don’t work, that aren’t making us healthier? And here’s what I’m confident about: If doctors and patients have the best information about what works and what doesn’t, then they’re going to want to pay for what works. If there’s a blue pill and a red pill and the blue pill is half the price of the red pill and works just as well, why not pay half price for the thing that’s going to make you well?
[E]nd-of-life care is one of the most difficult, sensitive decisions we’re going to have to make. I don’t want bureaucracies making those decisions. But understand that those decisions are already being made in one way or another. If they’re not being made under Medicare and Medicaid, they’re being made by private insurers. We don’t always make those decisions explicitly. We often make those decisions by just letting people run out of money or making the deductibles too high or the out-of-pocket expenses so onerous that they just can’t afford the care.
And all we’re suggesting — and we’re not going to solve every difficult problem in terms of end-of-life care; a lot of that is going to have to be we as a culture and as a society starting to make better decisions within our own families and for ourselves. But what we can do is make sure that at least some of the waste that exists in the system that’s not making anybody’s mom better, that is loading up on additional tests or additional drugs that the evidence shows is not necessarily going to improve care, that at least we can let doctors know, and your mom know, that you know what, maybe this isn’t going to help, maybe you’re better off not having the surgery, but taking the painkiller.
But mainly I just wanted to use this as an opportunity to dust off a proud moment in GOP history and highlight what “letting Washington bureaucrats make decisions that should be made by doctors and patients” really looks like:
Bill Frist (R-Tenn.), a renowned heart surgeon before becoming Senate majority leader, went to the floor late Thursday night for the second time in 12 hours to argue that Florida doctors had erred in saying Terri Schiavo is in a “persistent vegetative state.”
“I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office,” he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. “She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli.”
His comments raised eyebrows in medical and political circles alike. It is not every day that a high-profile physician relies on family videotapes to challenge the diagnosis of doctors who examined a severely brain-damaged patient in person.