6/15/2009

Washington Times: Obama's health care promises

Here is how a piece that I wrote at the Washington Times starts:

Boos and awkward silences marked President Obama's speech at Monday's American Medical Association meeting in Chicago, and for good reason.

Not only did he refuse to support caps for malpractice suits, but he said his administration would undercut how much doctors make. In Monday's AMA address and another speech on Saturday, the president reiterated his promise to save "$313 billion in Medicare and Medicaid spending." His line was greeted by stony silence from the AMA. Mr. Obama understood why and even admitted, "Today's Medicare rates will be applied broadly in a way that means our cost savings are coming off your backs."

The government is good at "saving" money by simply reimbursing Medicare and Medicaid providers for less than their cost. It is essentially a tax that the government imposes - a tax that doctors and hospitals pay for staying in business. But this tax raises doctors' and hospitals' costs, forcing them to charge private patients more to compensate for the lost Medicare and Medicaid revenue. . . . .

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7 Comments:

Blogger Pundit said...

I won't repeat myself, since you already know why I think your argument is fallacious.

I didn't point it out in my comments on your response (and, by the way, thanks for the preview to your published piece!), but you make the mistake of using a metaphor ("essentially a tax") as a real thing ("there is no one to pay this tax").

I would like to see some evidence of the significant migration of Canadian physicians to the US and loss of practitioners in the UK resulting in problems in access to care.

6/16/2009 7:56 AM  
Blogger 1 said...

Doctors are taxpayers too...

Reading this bit on NRO's Corner, the CBO and the Kennedy-Dodd Bill should give them more reasons to boo & hiss...

From the CBO: According to that assessment, enacting the proposal would result in a net increase in federal budget deficits of about $1.0 trillion over the 2010–2019 period.

6/16/2009 8:18 AM  
Blogger Martin G. Schalz said...

A fine example of the huge gap that exists between ideology and reality.

6/16/2009 11:21 AM  
Blogger author said...

I'm no supporter of this public health plan but the Washington Times screwed up Obama's quote.

The Times quoted Obama as saying, "Today's Medicare rates will be applied broadly in a way that means our cost savings are coming off your backs."

But he actually said, "Now, I know there’s some concern about a public option. In particular, I understand that you are concerned that today’s Medicare rates will be applied broadly in a way that means our cost savings are coming off your backs."

6/16/2009 12:52 PM  
Blogger Martin G. Schalz said...

Two things here Pundit; #1. Google. You should try it. The Canadian govt. is not very happy about their current brain drain.

#2."The tone and tendency of liberalism...is to attack the institutions of the country under the name of reform and to make war on the manners and customs of the people under the pretext of progress."

- - - Benjamin Disraeli, Speech In London, June 24, 1872

6/16/2009 8:25 PM  
Blogger Russ said...

I clearly disagree with you on health care, but I have an honest question about what you've written here.

You say:
"The government is good at 'saving' money by simply reimbursing Medicare and Medicaid providers for less than their cost."
But, so far as I understand it, this isn't limited to the government and Medicaid/Medicare. From what I understand, insurance providers pay doctors and hospitals far less than an uninsured individual would pay for the same care or treatment. This has always struck me as odd, sort of an unfair doubly-whammy for the poor schmuck who has to pay out of pocket if he needs care, but if private companies do it then why should the government (you and me) pay full price?

I hope you can provide me some resources to learn more about this, such as how much less Medicare or Medicaid pay versus what an individual or private insurance company would pay. I hope I'm not just making stuff up since I tried to find some links to back up what I'm saying but wasn't immediately able to find anything.

6/16/2009 11:40 PM  
Blogger John Lott said...

Dear Russ:

Medicare and Medicaid pay much less than private insurance. For breast cancer, private insurance pays 120% to 160% of Medicare rates. Even congress seems to understand this basic point.

6/17/2009 8:06 AM  

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