Tag: health care reform

Wednesday Links

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Weekend Links

  • The Senate Finance Committee’s version of health care reform is definitely a step up from all of the other versions of the bill. But that’s still a pretty low bar.
  • Change? The president cuts another deal for special interest lobbyists at the expense of American families.
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Baucus Bill’s Spending Cuts Won’t Stick

Why? Just ask Sen. Evan Bayh (D-IN):

You can sort of see this coming. The savings from the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance industry, you can kind of count on that because they’re not very popular.

The hospitals are a different story.  People, you know, like their hospitals; they tend to trust their hospitals. The hospitals have pledged big savings. I can easily forecast at some point in the not-too-distant future the hospitals coming in and saying, “You know what, this isn’t working exactly the way we expected. Please spare us from this,” and them getting a good hearing in [Congress].

The same thing goes for physicians.

And the pharmaceutical companies.

And the insurance industry.

Wednesday Links - Health Care Costs

The Congressional Budget Office released a report this week that revealed that the proposed health care bill would not increase the deficit.  But is it that simple? Cato health care policy experts have examined the bill and added up the costs. Here are a few things they have found:

“Keep Your Subsidies off My Ovaries”

In my recent Cato paper, “All the President’s Mandates: Compulsory Health Insurance Is a Government Takeover,” I explain that if Congress compels Americans to purchase health insurance, it would “inevitably and unnecessarily open a new front in the abortion debate, one where either side—and possibly both sides—could lose.”

Slate’s William Saletan explains how the pro-choice side could lose:

This week, the Senate finance committee is considering amendments that would bar coverage of abortions under federally subsidized health insurance. Pro-choice groups are up in arms. After all, says NARAL Pro-Choice America, “In the current insurance marketplace, private plans can choose whether to cover abortion care—and most do.” If Congress enacts subsidies that exclude abortion, “women could lose coverage for abortion care, even if their private health-insurance plan already covers it!“…

The argument these groups make is perfectly logical: If you standardize health insurance through federal subsidies and coverage requirements, people might lose benefits they used to enjoy in the private sector. But that’s more than an argument against excluding abortion. It’s an argument against health care reform altogether.

Saletan also explains why pro-life and pro-choice positions on Obama’s health plan are irreconcilable:

To get what they consider neutrality, pro-choicers have to make pro-lifers pay indirectly for abortions. And to keep what they consider clean hands, pro-lifers have to make abortion coverage federally unsupportable and therefore, in a subsidy-dependent system, commercially nonviable.

Rather than an argument against all health care reform, I’d say this is an argument against reforms that expand government subsidies or otherwise give government the power to choose what kind of insurance you purchase.  Fortunately, there are better ways to reform health care.

“How American Health Care Killed My Father”

Not my father.  David Goldhill’s father.

David Goldhill is a Democrat.  He is the president and CEO of the Game Show Network.  And he’ll be speaking on health care at a Cato Institute event on Capitol Hill this Thursday.

Why would you want to hear the president of the Game Show Network discuss about health care reform?

Because after Goldhill’s father succumbed to a hospital-acquired infection, Goldhill spent two years studying America’s health care sector.  The product of those efforts is “How American Health Care Killed My Father,” an article in this month’s issue of The Atlantic that bloggers have acclaimed as a “stemwinder” and “a fascinating read.”

Goldhill analyzes why America’s health care sector is so dysfunctional and concludes that “this generation of ‘comprehensive’ reform will not address the underlying issues, any more than previous efforts did. Instead it will put yet more patches on the walls of an edifice that is fundamentally unsound—and then build that edifice higher.”

The event will take place in room B-340 of the Rayburn House Office Building at noon on Thursday, October 1.  Click here to register.

Climate Change and Health Care: Free Lunches?

In the debate over health care reform, advocates of expanded government health insurance suggest we can pay for this by making Medicare and Medicaid more efficient.

In Paul Krugman’s most recent column, he makes a similar claim about reducing greenhouse gas emissions:

The evidence suggests that we’re wasting a lot of energy right now. That is, we’re burning large amounts of coal, oil and gas in ways that don’t actually enhance our standard of living — a phenomenon known in the research literature as the “energy-efficiency gap.” The existence of this gap suggests that policies promoting energy conservation could, up to a point, actually make consumers richer.

Both claims of a “free lunch” are heroic, at best.

In the case of health insurance, Medicare and Medicaid are inefficient, but to make them more efficient we have to reduce government subsidy for health insurance, not expand it.

In the case of energy efficiency, more energy-efficient practices exist (e.g., replacing incandescent light bulbs with CFLs), but they are expensive: if they actually made consumers richer, most would be using them already.

Now the fact that expanded government health insurance and increased energy efficiency would cost more, not less, does not prove they are bad ideas (that’s a separate discussion). But it means society must evaluate a tradeoff, not just assert we can have something for nothing.

C/P Libertarianism, from A to Z