Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Pres. Obama (finally) understands health care

For me, one of the seminal issues of the Democratic primary last year was health care, and I strongly supported Hillary Clinton because of her thorough comprehension of the problems with the current health care system. Specifically, Clinton favored mandatory health insurance coverage to be a part of any reform bill, which was a distinct departure from the stance of candidate Obama.

What ho! A few months as president and Mr. Obama has found religion. From a recent interview on CBS News:

"Do you believe that each individual American should be required to have health insurance?" asked Jonathan LaPook, an M.D. and a medical correspondent for CBS News.

"I have come to that conclusion," Obama said. "During the campaign I was opposed to this idea because my general attitude was the reason people don't have health insurance is not because they don't want it, it's because they can't afford it. And if you make it affordable, then they'll come. I am now in favor of some sort of individual mandate as long as there's a hardship exemption."

Exactly the policy Hillary Clinton espoused.


nonlemming said...

Forest view still blocked by trees. Massive entitlement programs like this are no longer sustainable due to demos and structural flaws (e.g., Social Security born in 1935: retirement age 65, life expectancy 62; now, retirement age same and life expectancy = 78). Ideologically driven entitlement expansions doomed to fail unless rules of math can be repealed. Another point of view:

"Consumers are receiving quality medical care at little direct cost to themselves. This creates runaway costs that have to be addressed. But ill-advised reforms can make things much worse.

An effective cure begins with an accurate diagnosis, which is sorely lacking in most policy circles. The proposals currently on offer fail to address the fundamental driver of health-care costs: the health-care wedge.

The health-care wedge is an economic term that reflects the difference between what health-care costs the specific provider and what the patient actually pays. When health care is subsidized, no one should be surprised that people demand more of it and that the costs to produce it increase. Mr. Obama’s health-care plan does nothing to address the gap between the price paid and the price received. Instead, it’s like a negative tax: Costs rise and people demand more than they need.

The bottom line is that when the government spends money on health care, the patient does not. The patient is then separated from the transaction in the sense that costs are no longer his concern.

Thus, health-care reform should be based on policies that diminish the health-care wedge rather than increase it. Mr. Obama’s reform principles—a public health-insurance option, mandated minimum coverage, mandated coverage of pre-existing conditions, and required purchase of health insurance—only increase the size of the wedge and thus health-care costs.

According to research performed for the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a $1 trillion increase in federal government health subsidies will accelerate health-care inflation, lead to continued growth in health-care expenditures, and diminish our economic growth even further. Despite these costs, some 30 million people will remain uninsured.

Implementing Mr. Obama’s reforms would literally be worse than doing nothing.

The president’s camp is quick to claim that his critics have not offered a viable alternative and would prefer to do nothing. But that argument couldn’t be further from the truth.

Rather than expanding the role of government in the health-care market, Congress should implement a patient-centered approach to health-care reform. A patient-centered approach focuses on the patient-doctor relationship and empowers the patient and the doctor to make effective and economical choices.

Because Mr. Obama has incorrectly diagnosed the problems with our health-care system, any reform based on his priorities would worsen the current inefficiencies. Americans would pay even more for lower quality and less access to care. This doesn’t sound like reform we can believe in."

full text:

Tony said...

I'm very proud of you! Not one insult. Now we just have to get you off the Art Laffer fetish... you seem smarter than that.

I'll read Laffer's op-ed and furnish a full response.

nonlemming said...

If I’ve a fetish for anything, it’s math, the laws of physics (reality), and living within my means. The states are required to do so. Meanwhile, the federal government ignores such common sense, assuming other people’s money will never run out, or they can borrow from other countries, or just print more. The jig is almost up on this intergenerational Ponzi scheme (Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid).

You seem to have a fetish for despising insurance companies and math. Since we’ve so little in common, no point wasting any more time. Was hoping you were smart and capable of considering bigger issues and multiple points of view. Take comfort knowing you’ll not be accused of independent thinking.

If nothing else, keep in mind reality is always more conservative than ideology.

Tony said...

I agree. Neither one of us is going to convince the other. Thanks for stopping by.

I did give a lengthy response to the Laffer op-ed, fwiw, and I read your comment... which was unnecessarily laced with some fairly angry-sounding language.

Disturbing, really. I empathasize with your sentiment and frustration, but I'm not sure I can help you.