Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Healthcare Hangover, Part 3
An interesting article in National Journal, the blue-chip insider magazine, on the healthcare bill. Written by Brian Friel, Richard E. Cohen, Alexis Simendinger, Kirk Victor, James A. Barnes, and Peter H. Stone.
The sextet of coauthors pull out some interesting items, including a comment from Service Employees International Union president Andy Stern that the healthcare bill will "lead to the creation of 2.5 to 4 million new health care jobs."
Here at SMS, we have seen various claims that the healthcare reform would create jobs elsewhere in the economy, from the Center for American Progress and elsewhere, but if this NJ item is correct, then Stern sees millions of jobs blossoming out of the healthcare sector itself--and presumably many of them would join SEIU. And all this time, we were told that the goal was bend the curve downward, because we spent too much.
As Sen. Olympia Snowe observed to NJ in the wake of the bill’s passage, “We’re getting, I think, far more expansive policy than the American people are prepared to digest or think is practical in these economic times.”
But let's remember, while half the argument for Obamacare was compassion, the other half was budget-cutting. So which half was right?
Another person quoted in the NJ article, MIT economist Jonathan Gruber, described as an "intellectual architect" of the Obamacare, said in a March 11 speech in Massachusetts, "The only way we're going to stop our country from becoming a latter-day Roman Empire and falling under its own weight is to get control of the growth rate of health care costs." An interesting point, albeit perhaps a bit hyperbolic. But it will be interesting to see what the Obamans do to actually control costs.
Yes, there's a lot of activity, as reported by TalkingPointsMemo's Christina Bellantoni, but it's not so obvious that this scrambling toward implementation is oriented toward reducing costs, now that the bill is passed.
Indeed, as the "doc fix" is once again being fixed, restoring hundreds of billions to doctors, we see that once again, hundreds of billions to the cost of healthcare.
In the biting words of Hot Air blogger Ed Morrissey:
Of course, we knew that before Congress began to debate ObamaCare — and so did the Democrats. The AMA agreed to support their efforts only if Democrats rescinded those cuts. Instead of recalibrating the bill using honest accounting, they claimed deficit reductions that only exist without the doctor fix. For months, Democrats kept the rescission parallel to the overhaul of the health-care system to maintain the illusion of fiscal responsibility.
On April 1st, the illusion ends. When those cuts don’t go into effect, ObamaCare becomes a deficit-expanding program — and that’s assuming that the rest of it works as advertised, a very large assumption that flies in the face of experience from every government entitlement program ever created.
So spending is going up again. Faced with the prospect of cutting, politicians, in both parties, back away. Who wants to cut Medicare? Who wants to cut Medicaid? Who wants to cut back on care to the sick? Nobody. Maybe that means--and this has been the argument here at SMS all along--that people want to spend more on healthcare, not less. And the people are speaking.
Is it possible, after all, that there is no real constituency for controlling costs? Is it possible that all Establishmentarians who write reports on deficit-cutting have no real support in the country? That would seem to be the case.
But if the Establishment is right, and long-term deficits are going to prove ruinous to the country, then we will need to be more creative about controlling costs. As we say here at SMS, a cure is cheaper than care.
Posted by James P. Pinkerton at 1:11 PM