Thursday, November 26, 2009

Health care "reform": Nobody knows what will happen 

Even I believe that we need to change the way we pay for health care because we are not getting good value for our money in this country, but it is increasingly obvious that the Democrats have put forth legislation that does not clearly do anything other than to create a massive new entitlement and taxes to go with it. Only weeks ago, few people who would be affected by the proposed legislation were willing to say this out loud; rumors swirled through the various sectors of the health care industry of chilling calls from the White House staff, muttering dark warnings to individuals and businesses that speak out too loudly against the Democratic bills. Now, though, the dean of the Harvard Medical School is speaking out, and the non-Wall Street Journal/Fox mainstream media is actually publishing what he has to say (bold emphasis added):

One of the White House's biggest boasts about the health care legislation now moving through Congress is that it should reduce health care costs for both government and society.

Many prominent experts are skeptical, however, and some say that the Obama administration's wrong.

"There are no provisions to substantively control the growth of costs or raise the quality of care. So the overall effort will fail to qualify as reform," Dr. Jeffrey Flier, the dean of the Harvard Medical School, wrote in The Wall Street Journal on Nov. 18. "In discussions with dozens of health care leaders and economists, I find near unanimity of opinion that, whatever its shape, the final legislation that will emerge from Congress will markedly accelerate national health care spending rather than restrain it."

Read the whole thing, and particularly note this:
From 2020 to 2029, while the CBO said that health care savings should cause deficits to drop sharply, it also warned that any precise forecasts "would not be meaningful because the uncertainties involved are simply too great."

As a result, "the honest answer is that nobody knows" whether meaningful savings are possible, said Robert Bixby, the executive director of the Concord Coalition, a bipartisan budget watchdog group.

Unfortunately, we -- including the Congressional sponsors of this legislation and virtually all experts -- are uncertain about a lot more than the long-term impact on the federal budget. The ugly truth is that nobody understands what the impact of this legislation will be on health care in general, the various industries, or the innovation of new technology that can make our lives better and longer. Nobody knows. Not the smartest surgeons you will ever meet, not portfolio managers who make it their business to be expert in health care and invest billions of dollars based on that expertise, not the sharpest securities analysts, not the CEOs or CFOs of hospitals, pharmaceutical companies, insurance companies, or medical technology companies, not academics who study public policy, not the lobbyists who are fighting for or against this legislation (or to avoid taxes and get benefits for their particular clients), and definitely not the key players in the United States Congress and the Obama administration. I know this, because I talk to many of these people in my day job. Nobody knows what will happen as the result of this legislation, other than that more people will have some form of insurance coverage and the "rich" will pay much higher taxes to make that happen. The rest of it is a leap in the dark.

Isn't that reason enough for any responsible person to oppose this legislation?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thu Nov 26, 09:50:00 PM:

Well said; and, now, another question: Does this legislation help anyone other than people looking for government jobs to find one? Honestly, why would any other person ever support this idea?  

By Anonymous tyree, at Fri Nov 27, 02:24:00 AM:

In answer to Tigerhawks question, "Yes".

In answer to Anons question:

Socialism has lost it's sting because few people under 30 remember what it was like when the USSR still existed. We have a whole generation educated by 60's radicals that think that is actually can be made to work, if this time it is run by the right people.  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Fri Nov 27, 03:53:00 AM:

The proposed laws seem to be a half-way solution which will leave people still paying insurance as well as extra taxes. You won't see a proper health service until the vast majority of citizens have no need for insurance or private treatment. In the short term, under this legislation, you are going to have the worst of both worlds.

Don't get hung up on this "socialism" bogy. In a mixed economy, which is what both European states and the US have, there is every gradation from completely stste-controlled (defence against human enemies, roads) to completely private (Disney, Microsoft). In between are a range of industries more or less regulated and controlled by elected governments. The question is where on this spectrum to place health care, to get the best results for the money.

It is hard to see how siphoning off a large part of the money paid to the profits of insurance companies with big glossy offices can be an efficient use of health-care money.

And indeed it seems to leave millions of people with no health care at all, or facing bankruptcy because of crippling medical costs. That cannot be right.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Fri Nov 27, 07:24:00 AM:

The bill....and the logic that shaped the bill(s...is so far off the mark that politicians are actually in fear, not of the unknown consequnces to our way of life. but of the very real likelihood of personal repercussions to their careers and their party.

Much like pornography, most of us cannot define perfect health care reform...but most of us can spot a bad idea when we see it.

Why the lemming-like scramble to pass this legislation, when the basic justification OBVIOUSLY needs careful analysis and debate...and...just as obviously, the proposed is not a clear solution to the problem?

Why? Simply because the basic intent is NOT health care reform, but an appropriation of a large percentage of the economic engine of this country by a political cabal whose intentions are not honorable.

The simple solution to our health care "crisis" is a much needed revolution in the insurance and legal industries that have attached themselves to health care delivery like pilot fish...to the point that health care has become the pilot fish and financial/legal industry has become the whale.

The roles need to be set right.

Unfortunately we have no one in our legislative arena with the balls to do it or even the intention to try.  

By Blogger TigerHawk, at Fri Nov 27, 07:31:00 AM:

The only thing, Don, is that the health insurance industry has damned thin profit margins. I also suspect that few of their offices are more glossy than the government offices that will replace them.  

By Anonymous tyree, at Fri Nov 27, 09:46:00 AM:

Don said "it seems to leave millions of people with no health care at all, or facing bankruptcy because of crippling medical costs."

Don, many of those millions who have no insurance are illegal aliens. We should be forced to care for them? I know we already are through our emergency room laws, but couldn't that situation be fixed without another expansion of socialist control of our lives? The high cost of medical care is driven in part by our tort system, shouldn't that also be fixed? This bloated bill does too little to address the root causes of the high cost of medical care. It does so on purpose. The system could be fixed with smaller incremental laws. The powers that created the "crisis" want to cover up their responsibility for creating the "crisis". We are being lied to. Again.  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Fri Nov 27, 10:29:00 AM:

"Don, many of those millions who have no insurance are illegal aliens. "

Many are, millions are not. And illegal aliens are human beings, too.

Are they more of a nuisance when they are sick or dying, or when they are well and can contribute some useful labor to society?

It is to the advantage of each of us to be surrounded by others who are well, not sick.  

By Blogger Don Cox, at Fri Nov 27, 10:33:00 AM:

"The high cost of medical care is driven in part by our tort system, shouldn't that also be fixed?"

Yes, absolutely. And that lawyer-driven tort system is beginning to infect Britain, too, with very bad results.  

By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Fri Nov 27, 12:40:00 PM:

"And illegal aliens are human beings, too."

I hate these fuzzy, feel-nice, 'arguments,' all the moreso because the people who use them think they're self-contained, self evident support for whatever it is they're trying to push on you.

First is the assumption that medical care is some sort of basic right. Which is ridiculous and misunderstands the nature of a political right in the first place, but if accepted as true has other implications.

There are much more basic needs than medical care. Food, for instance. Water. Shelter. Visit Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs for other examples. Why aren't these provided for first? If I have a 'human right' to medical care, why don't I have a 'human right' to shelter? You'll let me die of exposure, but not before you give me a flu vaccine? Thanks a lot. but I suppose the provision of all of those other things stinks too much of communism and, after all, the Democrats have their image to consider.

Second; if all you have to do to qualify for free health care in this utopia is 'be a human,' why stop at illegals? Why not extend care to any visiting aliens? Foreign nationals? Residents of Zimbabwe? After all, they're people too.

'I wish we could, but we can't afford it.'

Ah, some realism. Glad to hear it. Proceed to the next bullet.

Third is that people seem to think that this shit is free and without consequences, as if it can simply be executed with the flit of a pen like sorcery and the world will suddenly be better. Those millions of illegal immigrants (and yes, there are millions, don't lie to yourself) don't contribute to the public coffers. And much of what they don't contribute to the public coffers gets sent back to Mexico (and other places) in the form of remittances, a custom which actually *drains* our economy of money and sends it abroad. So giving illegals free healthcare despite their non-payment of taxes is 1) expensive, since you have all of these people sucking at the public teat who not only don't contribute but suck the economy of resources, and 2) a huge incentive for more people to sneak into this country and get the free goodies, which makes cost #1 even higher. The government is *already* going bankrupt. They are literally printing money to service their own debts.

This doesn't even approach the dissolution of incentives for people to become doctors and practice in this country in the first place.

'Well they're humans too' doesn't cut it. That warm fuzzy feeling does not justify the expansion of our collective fiscal seppuku.  

By Blogger JPMcT, at Fri Nov 27, 01:09:00 PM:

"Are they more of a nuisance when they are sick or dying, or when they are well and can contribute some useful labor to society"

They are a nuisance either way, Don.

If we OWE the illegals something for just being human...do they not OWE US something in return.

Something like the SECURITY of knowing their criminal records. Something like taxes paid in reimbursment for their schooling, medical care and use of our resources?

No, of course not...they are bankrupting our border states, with the plague extendnig north yearly.


They aren't humans, Don...they are VOTES!!!  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Fri Nov 27, 02:19:00 PM:

I think it would be more cogent to say,"They're not JUST humans, they are millions of potential votes!"

Votes for more of the largesse that comes along the continuum of free-market economics to state controlled businesses all the way to government ownership of the means of production.

Which, I think, is the direction Mr. Cox thinks the US should be going. Because it is fairer and more just.


By Blogger JPMcT, at Sat Nov 28, 09:04:00 AM:

"I think it would be more cogent to say,"They're not JUST humans, they are millions of potential votes!"

If I really thought that the sympathy of the Democrat politicians was due to some perceived "plight" the I would agree.

If these were conservative, potentially Republican folks yearning to breath free and were here for the liberty and not the handouts...I would expect the Democrats to be firmly opposed to them....as they are to Cuban refugees.

No, David...they are only useful to Washington as votes...not as people.

The Democrats have a long history of being able to produce votes without actual people.  

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