Sebelius and Tiller: What could be worse? Plenty.

Abortion, Domestic Policy, Politics — By on April 21, 2009 at 6:52 pm

Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius won Senate Finance Committee approval today as she moves closer to becoming the next Secretary of Health and Human Services. The full Senate is expected to vote on her confirmation within the week.
Unfortunately, despite her tax indiscretions and questionable dealings with Kansas abortionist George Tiller, Sebelius faces little opposition in these final stages of the confirmation process. Even the historically pro-life Senator Brownback has chosen to support her nomination for admittedly political reasons.
The Health and Human Services Secretary position is one of the few cabinet seats in which one’s views on abortion are immediately relevant… and given her history, pro-life activists can be sure that a Secretary Sebelius will not make their work any easier.
Worse, it turns out that abortion isn’t the only health issue on which Sebelius holds alarming views:

“…sadly, Sebelius’ relationship with a partial-birth abortionist is, perhaps, not the most concerning thing about Sebelius — at least not according to Senate Minority Whip and Finance Committee Member John Kyl (R-AZ).

Reading the Associated Press report, one would assume Tiller is the only problem, yet he barely draws a mention in Kyl’s press release on Sebelius. Instead, Kyl (who voted against Sebelius) singled out Sebelus’ views on “comparative effectiveness research”.
In English, that translates roughly as research to determine who is worth health care and who we should just let die.
Essentially, when you factor “comparative effectiveness” into medical decisions, it means that those decisions have to be made at least partially based on cost rather than the best interest of the patient. According to Kyl,

“Governor Sebelius’ answers made it clear that the Administration is unwilling to support pro-patient safeguards. She left me with no assurance that HHS…will not use comparative effectiveness research as a tool to deny care”.

That is why he voted against her, not because of her disturbing affiliation with a guy who likes to kill perfectly viable babies”.

This is not good news…. ‘


Tags: , ,
  • http://TheEverwiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    First of all, “comparative effectiveness research” is not ‘who lives and who dies’. It is exactly what it sounds like, comparing different medical treatments to see what works best.

    As applied in the health care sector, an analysis of comparative effectiveness is simply a rigorous evaluation of the impact of different options that are available for treating
    a given medical condition for a particular set of patients. Such a study may compare similar treatments, such as competing drugs, or it may analyze very different approaches, such as surgery and drug therapy. The analysis may focus only on the relative medical benefits and
    risks of each option, or it may also weigh both the costs and the benefits of those options.

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/88xx/doc8891/12-18-ComparativeEffectiveness.pdf
    comparable effectiveness is very important for a number of reasons. One is about cost. A lot of money is spent to determine if a new drug is safe and if it is effective but very little is done to see how it rates compared to other drugs and other medical options. Cost here is an option, if a new drug costs thousands of dollars more compared to the generic but only improves outcomes by 1% both patients and insurance companies have a legitimate reason to question whether limited dollars should go to the new drug or not. It doesn’t follow from this that everyone who might be helped by the new drug will simply be told to die. This information can be used to demand a more reasonable price for the drug so that the few people it can help are able to get it at a more reasonable price. To bash comparable effectiveness because you’re bored and feel its time for installment 3,345 of ‘culture wars’ is irresponsible.
    To be honest with you I don’t know much about Sebelius but your attempt to Bork her with this idiocy is sending out a signal that you should simply be dismissed as an arbortion partisan and an unserious commentator.

  • http://mumonno.blogspot.com Mumon

    It amazes me how much contempt the religious right has for human beings and human dignity, and then has the gall to dress it up as some kind of “right to life.”
    In English, “comparative effectiveness research” seems to translate into what Boonton said.
    Why must the religious right lie, and lie, and lie, and lie?
    The rest of us have had it up to here with such cavalier attitudes towards ethics combined with smug sanctimony.

  • Naaman

    Pssst … you might want to read Senator Kyl’s press release before commenting.
    The problem is not merely “comparative effectiveness research” but rather that Sebelius doesn’t support any pro-patient safeguards when applying the results of such research.
    Here, I’ll let Senator Kyl do the talking:
    Comparative effectiveness research can be used to provide patients and doctors with information so that they may make informed health care decisions. But, without the appropriate safeguards, the government can misuse comparative effectiveness research to deny coverage.
    Unfortunately, Governor Sebelius’ answers made it clear that the Administration is unwilling to support pro-patient safeguards. She left me with no assurance that HHS, federal health care programs, or any new entity—such as the Federal Coordinating Council—will not use comparative effectiveness research as a tool to deny care. And this should be a matter of concern to all of us.

    http://kyl.senate.gov/record.cfm?id=311718
    The Senator’s words are pretty clear. He’s not concerned with comparative effectiveness research as such. The problem is the lack of pro-patient safeguards, and specifically the possibility that sick people could be denied care.
    Attacking without the facts simply makes you look foolish.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    The problem is not merely “comparative effectiveness research” but rather that Sebelius doesn’t support any pro-patient safeguards when applying the results of such research.
    I’m curious what this would look like. Say it is discovered that a generic drug does 90% of the job that a branded one does but its price is only 10%. So you can achieve a lot of saving but incur a little slighly inferior patient care….(another way of looking at it is if you’re on the generic a huge increase in cost only yields a slight increase in benefit. Now:
    1. If you don’t think it is ethical to act on this information, you haven’t been paying attention for the last 30 years and ultimately you don’t really care about healthcare or people. Insisting that the generic shouldn’t be promoted because of its superior cost-to-benefit ratio is absurd and if you think its unethical you’d have to object to almost everything else we do.
    2. How exactly do you put the cat in the bag? OK Medicare won’t push the generic, how do you stop every HMO from doing so? Will the results be classified as a state secret?
    But, without the appropriate safeguards, the government can misuse comparative effectiveness research to deny coverage.
    You mean you support universal gov’t provided coverage? Cool beans….but look you deny coverage no matter what. Even the gov’t has a limited pool of money so it really should be used as wisely as possible.
    Let it be said that all things considered I don’t think this is an issue you believe in. You just want to out Sebelius so you’ll use whatever you can find. That’s fine and all but just say that. If this is something you really care about you have a lot of explaining to do.

  • http://TheEverWiseBoonton.blogspot.com Boonton

    Read the press release, very interesting. For one thing, there’s already a law prohibiting the use of Comp. Eff. Research for drugs (hmmmm wonder why? perhaps some pharma donations?). No such law exists for the rest of Medicare. Where does he say this danger is? Why the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003….which is the Bush law that put into place the drug benefit and the ‘Advantage’ program. The advantage program is basically private HMO’s you can opt for rather than traditional medicare. What do private HMOs do? Why they restrict care!
    So for over half a decade we had a law on the books that not only permitted comparative effectiveness research but encourages it! (How do HMO’s increase their profit margin, get the same care done but spend less $ doing it). Amazingly during all that time there was no need to pass a new law or safeguards….but all in the sudden it just happens to be so important that we must reject one of Obama’s nominees!