It’s hard to know whether President Obama’s health-care “reform” is naive, hypocritical or simply dishonest. Probably all three.
This is Newsweek?! Well, it’s Samuelson in Newsweek.
The president keeps saying it’s imperative to control
runaway health spending. He’s right. The trouble is that what’s being
promoted as health-care “reform” almost certainly won’t suppress
spending and, quite probably, will do the opposite.
He crunches the numbers.
The message in these dismal figures is that uncontrolled
health spending is almost single-handedly determining national
priorities. It’s reducing discretionary income, raising taxes, widening
budget deficits and squeezing other government programs. Worse, much
medical spending is wasted, the CEA report says. It doesn’t improve
Americans’ health; some care is unneeded or ineffective.
The Obama administration’s response is to talk endlessly about
restraining health spending—”bending the curve” is the buzz—as if talk
It has so far. Extraordinary effectiveness at talking helped carry him to the White House.
The president summoned the heads of major health-care
groups representing doctors, hospitals, drug companies and medical
device firms to the White House. All pledged to bend the curve. This is
mostly public relations. Does anyone believe the American Medical
Association can control the nation’s 800,000 doctors or that the
American Hospital Association can command the 5,700 hospitals?
No, not at all. A great many doctors don’t even belong to the AMA or pay attention to its political endorsements.
The central cause of runaway health spending is clear.
Hospitals and doctors are paid mostly on a fee-for-service basis and
reimbursed by insurance, either private or governmental. The open-ended
payment system encourages doctors and hospitals to provide more
services—and patients to expect them….That’s the crux of the
health-care dilemma, and Obama hasn’t confronted it. His emphasis on
controlling costs is cosmetic.
The main goal is providing all citizens access to health care, and
Congress is grappling with several different proposals on how to do
The one certain consequence of expanding insurance
coverage is that it would raise spending. When people have insurance,
they use more health services. That’s one reason Obama’s campaign
proposal was estimated to cost $1.2 trillion over a decade…
Which, by the way, some big media are only now ‘hearing’. Last night
on a PBS news hour one correspondent stated that Mr. Obama has only now
attached an estimated price tag of $1.2 trillion on the reform. I
talked back to the tv (quietly), saying ‘no, he actually did that
during the campaign, don’t you guys remember?’ Guess not.
Indeed, the higher demand for health care might raise
costs across the board, increasing both government spending and private
So, more of the same? We can’t afford that.
The place to start would be costly Medicare, the
nation’s largest insurance program serving 45 million elderly and
disabled. Of course, this would be unpopular, because it would disrupt
delivery patterns and reimbursement practices. It’s easier to pretend
to be curbing health spending while expanding coverage and spending.
Presidents have done that for decades, and it’s why most health
industries see “reform” as a good deal.
Sounds good, anyway.