In the Arena

Good News on Health Care

Good news? Yes. There's been a decline in the increase of health care spending that could shrink our budget deficits in the near future.

  • Share
  • Read Later

Good news? Yes. There’s been a decline in the increase of health care spending that could shrink our budget deficits in the near future. Ezekiel Emanuel, Rahm’s smarter brother, has the story in the NY Times today.

Actually, these developments are the first signs of a medical reform revolution that seems to be building, with the increased use of electronic records to determine the best and most efficient practices. As I’ve written before, there is a path to better and cheaper medical care–it’s all about best practices, putting doctors on salaries and squeezing some of the larger teaching hospitals that have been squeezing us. The President should be leading the charge…which is another reason why his State of the Union address was so disappointing.

17 comments
sonsofaureus
sonsofaureus

The healthcare debate is boiling down to this:  

Healthcare of the quality that we expect to receive in America is expensive.  Doctor income is already significantly less than the peak in the 90s.  There are no magic efficiency bullets that'll make a $100k surgery cost $5k.  Only a few things no one is willing to do (or perhaps should do) can significantly lower healthcare costs now - (1) Tort Reform  (2) Government cost controls on medical supplies/medications  (3) acceptance of lower quality care.  

As Obama Care is now, it is a shift of burden to insurers and health care providers without providing necessary cost reductions - a set of requirements about coverage without having think about funding said mandates.  True, there is the universal mandate - but how do we know the sum of the premiums will add up to the sum of healthcare costs?  There are also a huge middle men that needs to report profits to share holders - insurance companies, large hospital chains, etc.  That resolution is left up to free market voodoo.  Universal health care is at its core a socialist proposition - everybody pays in and whoever needs healthcare gets it.  If you're calling for universal health care, you need to make peace with this fact.  The technological advances and innovations - these however, are free market benefits (not that free market does not have its downfalls).  No country of the US's size has solved this problem in a way that achieves both.

The problem is that people feel entitled (perhaps rightly so) to receive the best care from highly trained medical professionals using the best materials and facilities for themselves and their loved ones, regardless of cost and their ability to pay for them.  And if something goes wrong as is apt to happen in endeavors involving humans, they then feel entitled to millions in damages.  For example, an experienced anesthesiologist has to pay over a hundred thousand dollars a year in liability insurance - because a certain percentage of people who go under general anesthesia die.  It is the nature of anesthesia and a matter of statistics, regardless of how may precautions are taken.  This puts a floor on the cost of surgical care that can not be addressed without a removal of liabilities.

While healthcare is not like other services in that it is necessary and its consumers poorly understand what they're receiving and how it is paid for, healthcare is still subject to basic accounting - there are costs and they have to be met, so that the next person may receive necessary care.  The problems with the cost of healthcare are related to the ever-rising standard of care, costs of education and quality.  


Onepatriot
Onepatriot

We need to improve on the Affordable Healthcare Act.  Congress needs to allow Medicare to negotiate the drug prices it pays for and hospitals should have limits on how much their top ceos are paid.  This is government money that is funding their institutions.  They need to operate with regulations on how that money is used.   I'm tired of hearing about how they are non profits.  They have a license to steal the way the system operates now and it needs to change.  It's our money they're benefitting from.

JoshuaHaltom
JoshuaHaltom

I am awaiting the ecologically ascendant move to holistic remedy replacing pills and stuff...  side effects are lame, and chemicals are much more addictive than plants and berries.

There is an abundance available in botany.

CANNABIS CURES CANCER

AnneVincent
AnneVincent

Leave it to the chief engineer of Obamacare (as well as an idiot pundit) to attempt to find a hint of an economic justification for this "Obamination". The reality is that the 3-decade escalation in health care spending, is directly associated with technological advances (especially scientific achievements that led to new effective but expensive treatments) for medical diseases. By keeping more people alive with these diseases, medical costs go up even more - because more people grow old enough to develop the chronic diseases common in geriatric patients (which are expensive to manage). The severe world-wide recession of the last half-decade has caused a marked decrease (from the private sector and other sources) in new research and development for medical diagnostic and therapeutic tools. This has translated into "status quo" medical care for us, and a very slight "decline in the increase in medical spending". So in other words, we've stopped improving our available medical tools, and so our increasing costs for medical care are slightly less rapid. Doubt this is something to be celebrated.  

MelissaMelloESouza
MelissaMelloESouza

Joe, as far as I remember,  the President DID lead the charge--he pushed for Health Care Reform in the first place (to the chagrin of pundits such as yourself, remember? ) and got the fricking thing passed....punditry is definitely going the way of the dinosaurs and the Russian meteors...

gysgt213
gysgt213

The President should be leading the charge…which is another reason why his State of the Union address was so disappointing."


This is what is so infuriating about the main stream press and pundits in this country. The President did lead the charge and what he got for it was accusations of death panels and government take over by health care. 

reflectionephemeral
reflectionephemeral

From the NYT: "Many of the changes predate the 2010 health care overhaul, but the law has also contributed to the changes by offering some financial incentives, health care experts say."

That was written three days ago. The President is leading the charge…which is another reason why your Friedmanesque SOTU commentary is so disappointing. ("Imagine a new phone app for the Department of Veterans Affairs! Surely that would incentivize Republicans to come up with rational arguments and policies, and to stop filibustering everything, even Republican ideas and nominees!") 

Your determination to cast blame on both sides, regardless of facts and context, is a grave threat to "a learning, evolving democracy, which requires an informed, rigorous public" (Joe Klein, Feb. 25, 2013). 

fitty_three
fitty_three

So if it's fair to say that Obama stooped to mediocrity because he missed this then where does that leave you, Joe?

nbigroup
nbigroup

@Onepatriot you want govt to decide what someone is paid? u want socialism.....still prefer capitalism. and will do everything possible to fight ideas like yours...

DonQuixotic
DonQuixotic

@gysgt213 

I'm reminded of how Marco Rubio commented in his response speech that the President had nothing to add on Medicare....except the part where he talked about working to overhaul Medicare.  

Paul,nnto
Paul,nnto

Up to and until BHO advocates for hurting the less fortunate and attacking unions Joe will continue to be "disappointed".

Nothing new here.

forgottenlord
forgottenlord

@ViableOp 

There was a great chart in Time back when ACA was still being worked on showing a couple dozen countries and while it was at the top of spending by double second place, it was something like third worst on the list for life expectancy.

TyPollard
TyPollard

@Paul,nnto 

Punching imaginary hippies takes courage. Joe Klein is very brave indeed.