It’s Health Care Costs, Stupid

Source: Paul Krugman

In today’s column, I tried to emphasize a point that is weirdly absent from public discourse, at least among VSPs: the favorite VSP “solution” to the long-run budget deficit, raising the Medicare eligibility age, actually yields only minor savings. The point is that if you want to control Medicare costs, you can’t do it by kicking a small number of relatively young seniors off the program; to control costs, you have to, you know, control costs.

And the truth is that we know a lot about how to do that — after all, every other advanced country has much lower health costs than we do, and even within the US, the VHA and even Medicaid are much better at controlling costs than Medicare, and even more so relative to private insurance.

The key is having a health insurance system that can say no — no, we won’t pay premium prices for drugs that are little if any better, we won’t pay for medical procedures that yield little or no benefit

But even as Republicans demand “entitlement reform”, they are dead set against anything like that. Bargaining over drug prices? Horrors! The Independent Payment Advisory Board? Death panels! They refuse to contemplate using approaches that have worked around the world; the only solution they will countenance is the solution that has never worked anywhere, namely, converting Medicare into an underfunded voucher system.

So pay no attention when they talk about how much they hate deficits. If they were serious about deficits, they’d be willing to consider policies that might actually work; instead, they cling to free-market fantasies that have failed repeatedly in practice.

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About James Crist

How do we stop America's decline? The country is in trouble and we can all feel it. Where did we go wrong? How do we fix it? We now have an auction-based government, for sale to the highest bidder. Politicians have become nothing more than corporate whores and pawns for the rich. If we want our representatives to represent us, let them get their campaign money from us, their constituents. We have to amend the constitution to get the big money out of politics.
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