Obama Hadn’t ‘Specified’ Whether National Health Care Provisions Needed to Be in Final Stimulus Package, White House Says

February 12, 2009 - 8:20 AM
President Barack Obama had not &quot;specified&quot; whether he would insist that two controversial national health care provisions be included in the final&nbsp;economic stimulus bill, White House Deputy Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki said yesterday before the elements of the&nbsp;final deal were released.<br />
 (CNSNews.com) – President Barack Obama had not “specified” whether he would insist that two controversial national health care provisions be included in the final economic stimulus bill, White House Deputy Press Secretary Jennifer Psaki said yesterday before the elements of the final deal were released.

The provisions, included in both the House and Senate versions of the bill, would allocate at least $3 billion toward the “the utilization of an electronic health record (EHR) for each person in the United States by 2014.” In addition, another $1.1 billion would be allocated to establish a Federal Coordinating Council for Comparative Effectiveness Research.

This council would serve as an umbrella group for all federal health programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, S-CHIP, and veterans’ care, with 15 members from various federal agencies making determinations and recommendations to the secretary of Health and Human Services about health care needs and cost-effective treatments. 

Rep. Tom Price (R-Ga.), chairman of the Republican Study Committee, told CNSNews.com: “The comparative effectiveness council is the beginning step of rationing health care.  That is a step that the American people do not want to take.”
 
Price, an orthopedic surgeon, said he has an interest in doctors and patients making their own decisions without a government dictate. ?
 
As for the elecronic health record database, Price said: “Health information technology is something we can all support in some form. But it doesn’t belong in a jobs package. It’s not going to create jobs and it won’t save money in the short term.”
 
When asked whether President Obama had insisted that the two health care provisions be part of the final stimulus bill, spokeswoman Psaki said, “We haven’t specified that."