“Multiple Fictions” Drive Opposition To Health Law

HENRY AARON

Originally published 1/20/11 on Kaiser Health News

While reading “A New Definition of Health Care Reform” by James C. Capretta and Tom Miller, I was reminded of the old adage “if one can frame the debate, one wins the debate.”

The health reform debate, they say, is between those who would use government regulation to try to control growth of health care spending and those who would rely on cost-conscious consumers operating in a competitive market place. The right way to reform health care, they say, is not government regulation but rather by shifting to a defined-contribution system in which people would bear the full marginal costs of insurance they buy. Medicare beneficiaries and Medicaid recipients should be given vouchers for the purchase of health insurance. Employers should do the same with private employees. The recently enacted health reform legislation, they say, extends fee-for-service medicine. For that reason, it should be replaced.

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2009 Health Spending Report Open To Interpretation

ROGER COLLIER

Originally published 1/06/11 at Reform Update

The New York Times headline was “Health Spending Rose in ’09, but at Low Rate,” but it could just as appropriately have been “Health Spending in ’09 Took Biggest Jump Ever in GDP Share.”

The computers in the CMS Office of the Actuary have finally quit grinding away and disgorged their findings for US health care spending for 2009. Total spending did rise at the lowest rate in fifty years—just 4 percent over 2008—but health care’s share of the economy jumped from 16.6 percent to 17.6 percent—the highest rate of increase in fifty years—as the economy shrank. In other terms, 2009 saw US health care cross another half-trillion dollar threshold—to $2.5 trillion for total expenditures—and pass yet another thousand dollar per capita marker—to just over $8,000 a head.

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