American College of Physicians Backs Health Spending in Stimulus Bill

Bob Doherty at the American College of Physician’s Advocate Blog comments on the Republican attempts to remove health care spending from the stimulus bill:

Let’s think about this. Health care costs are, in the words of the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), the “greatest fiscal challenge” facing the United States.

Spending money on health IT will likely produce jobs in the short-term (someone has to design, sell, install, update, maintain the systems, and provide support to practices on implementation and use). But the benefits of spending money on health IT can’t just be measured by the numbers of jobs produced. Health IT has the potential to lower health care expenses by billions of dollars, reduce medical errors, and improve quality (CBO).

Other programs in the stimulus bill, like funding for comparative effectiveness research and training more primary care physicians, can bring enormous benefit to the economy by creating the infrastructure needed to improve health care outcomes and reduce the costs of care. Yet they are also vulnerable to being struck.

On this issue, the president has it right, and his critics, wrong. In a letter sent this afternoon to all U.S. Senators, ACP urged that programs to fund health IT, comparative effectiveness research, and primary care be kept in the bill.

Today’s question: If you had $800 billion to spend, would you spend it: (1) only on programs that may create jobs in the short-term, but may produce little long-term economic gain for the economy or (2) programs that can create jobs now and help the economy over the longer haul by lowering health care costs?

Conservatives might take a knee-jerk position against spending, but in their attempts at playing politics they are also pushing many constituencies, which in the past might have backed Republicans, towards support for Obama. In the past physician organizations typically sided with Republicans against Democratic measures to bring about expansion of health care coverage. With a growing number of physicians witnessing the increasing problems with our current system, Republicans can no longer count on the support of physicians or physician organizations.

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2 Comments

  1. 1
    Janna in CA says:

    The reason Republicans oppose the medical parts of this spendulus bill are the very same as in your own previous article.  The difference being that I believe it to be WORSE to let the Federal Government direct healthcare: “The Potentially Fatal Consequences of Allowing Insurance Companies To Direct Health Care
    February 7th, 2009 by Ron Chusid”

  2. 2
    Ron Chusid says:

    Janna,

    The proposals have nothing to do with having the Federal government directing healthcare. This is just a Republican scare tactic.

    These are measures being urged by the medical profession. We certainly would not be recommending this if the goal was to have the federal government directing healthcare.

    Another lesson of the  post you link to is the problems raised by bad information technology. If someone is going to be looking over our shoulders it is far better that this is done with medical information systems which provide accurate information. Currently we have primitive systems which provide the type of garbage information which leads to the problems I noted in the other post.

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