Saturday, August 08, 2009

All the President's Men: Lipstick Cost Control

Representative Michele Bachmann (R - Minnesota, 6th District) referred to a quote by Ezekiel J. Emanuel, MD, PhD on the floor of the House before the House recess:
"Vague promises of savings from cutting waste, enhancing prevention and wellness, installing electronic medical records, and improving quality are merely lipstick cost control, more for show and public relations, than for true change."
He's right, of course. But what he proposes instead is threatening to the doctor-patient relationship, especially when the government intervenes in end-of-life decisions. Could government bodies ever understand the nuances of a patient's illness and family dynamic when a loved one is near death? It is hard to conceive how any doctor could take the Hippocratic Oath, as Emanuel states, "too seriously" at that time.

Maybe rather than taking away physicians' discretion regarding end-of-life decisions and care (especially when tort reform is not and has not been part of the reform discussion) we should ask why are we being smeared with the "EMR-Prevention-Wellness-Waste Reduction" lipstick as a means to justify significant cost savings if it's all a ruse. Might all those non-intercommunicating computer systems, drugs, testing, and wellness initiatives actually increase the costs of care delivery due to the large number needed to treat to save one life? Have these things really saved costs to our "system" or merely made healthy patients sick?

But then, serious discussion wouldn't be feeding our political constituents, would it?

Here's the video of Bachmann's comments:


Addendum: This from the New England Journal of Medicine - Prevention might not save costs. Who knew?


Anonymous said...

Does cutting waste include mid-level bureaucrats with no nights, call, liability, weekends, extensive training, debt, etc. like Michelle Obama who worked at a Chicago hospital as an administrator making $350,000/yr which is more salary than the doctors in the ER saving lives? I guess that would make Obama a hypocrit. Say it isn't so!

Anonymous said...

Dear Dr. Wes:
I have reported you and your blog to the Whitehouse for spreading mis-information regarding the President's health care reforms. Expect the FBI to contact you soon!

Concerned Citizen

DrWes said...

Dear Concerned:

That's okay, I sent 'em your URL too....

... and my list of spam e-mails...

It's so nice to be included....