Saturday, the President-elect unveiled a “modern version of FDR’s New Deal,” which he claims will help the struggling economy. Passing lightly over the fact that the original version of the New Deal prolonged the Great Depression, what interested me was his remarks about electronic medical records:
The economic recovery plan I’m proposing will help modernize our health care system – and that won’t just save jobs, it will save lives. We will make sure that every doctor’s office and hospital in this country is using cutting edge technology and electronic medical records so that we can cut red tape, prevent medical mistakes, and help save billions of dollars each year.
This bit about saving billions of dollars with EMR was a regular part of his standard stump speech during the recent presidential campaign, and it was correctly denounced by pretty much every informed observer as utterly preposterous. As Factcheck.org put it:
Obama says his health care plan will garner large savings … with more than half coming from the use of electronic health records. And he says he’ll make that happen in his first term. We find his statements to be overly optimistic, misleading and, to some extent, contradicted by one of his own advisers.
But he isn’t merely continuing to make the unsubstantiated claim that EMR will save money and save lives. He would also have us believe that this project will “save jobs” as well. This is another example of “make-work bias,” a concept Arnold Kling explains in a post titled Elite Fools.
So, is Obama a snake oil salesman or merely an “elite fool”? Time will tell.