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Former Senator Tom Daschle was supposed to be our Secretary of Health and Human Services.  But then, it turned out he had not paid all his taxes, and so he remains a private citizen, or better stated, an influential private citizen who still has President Obama’s ear on health care.  From the story:

On his final workday before leaving for Camp David and Martha’s Vineyard, Obama talked healthcare strategy with former Senate Democratic leader Tom Daschle. In a statement about the meeting, the White House said that the president and Daschle “agreed that substantive reform that lowers costs, reforms the insurance industry, and expands coverage is too important to wait another year or another administration.”

Here’s why that is a real problem for the president. Daschle believes in centralized rationing boards like the UK’s Orwellian named National Instutite for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE), that tells the NHS what it can and can’t cover.  From a Wall Street Journal article last January:
Tom Daschle [has] long advocated a U.S. approach modeled on the British agency, the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (NICE). Mr. Daschle argues that the only way to reduce spending is by allocating medical products based on “cost effectiveness.” He’s also called for a “federal health board” modeled on the Federal Reserve to rate medical products and create central controls on access.

Daschle wanting a US NICE and a centralized control over access strikes me as wanting US health care rationing, as I discussed here at SHS at the time. His advice is still clearly valued by the president.  Consulting with Tom Daschle about the health care proposals isn’t a good way for the president to shake the “death panels” jitters of the American people.

P.S. The story quoted at the top of this post is generally about how Democratic strategists are upset that POTUS’s  message about health care reform has been muddled.  Mr. President, pay them no heed: It isn’t the salesmanship causing you so many problems—it’s the plan.

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