NYTimes.com

Source: NYTimes.com

Am I the only one puzzled by Daschle’s new red frames?

The Times carries a piece tonight on the substantial barriers Secretary-designate Daschle will face as the point person for the administration’s ambitious health care reform agenda. By crafting the nomination at once as Secretary of HHS and as director of the new White House Office of Health Reform, the president-elect apparently seeks both to invest Daschle’s position with authority and free him of many of the daily demands associated with running HHS’s tangle of programs and agencies. The Times briefly examines Daschle’s support for a Federal Health Board to administer federal health programs. The article notes:

At the heart of the health care system, Mr. Daschle wants to establish a Federal Health Board, an independent entity like the Federal Reserve. The board would make coverage decisions for federal health programs. It would, he says, “reduce or deny payment for new drugs and procedures that aren’t as effective as current ones.”

Mr. Daschle predicts that such decisions will “rankle powerful interest groups, such as drug manufacturers.” Critics say the board would be picking winners and losers among makers of drugs and medical devices.

David H. Nexon, senior executive vice president of the Advanced Medical Technology Association, a trade group for makers of medical devices like Medtronic and Boston Scientific, said that research comparing the effectiveness of different treatments could help doctors and patients make better decisions.

But, Mr. Nexon said, “the medical device industry, life science companies and patient groups would have a real problem with a centralized decision-making operation that denied people access to safe, effective treatments or imposed a cost-effectiveness standard on therapies that would be covered by Medicare or other forms of insurance.”

Honestly, the analogy seems flawed to me. I’m no expert on these matters, but the extraordinary delegtaion of policymaking discretion to the Fed strikes me as the product of a fairly unique alignment of political and economic intersets. It seems like a far cry from the morrass of interest groups and administrative arrangements making up the U.S. health care system.

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