Down With the Sickness

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The foreign policy talk is, deservedly, getting all the attention, but John McCain's "2013: A Space Odyssey" speech went into an interesting place on health care. I don't think any Republican is optimistic about this issue: Post-Medicare Part D, the Democrats are clutching it tighter than a winning lottery ticket. But here's McCain's boiled-down pitch, from a future where "health care has become more accessible to more Americans than at any other time in history."

Reforms of the insurance market; putting the choice of health care into the hands of American families rather than exclusively with the government or employers; walk in clinics as alternatives to emergency room care; paying for outcome in the treatment of disease rather than individual procedures; and competition in the prescription drug market have begun to wring out the runaway inflation once endemic in our health care system.

I can see how this curbs inflation, even if, for a certain segment of the population this would be counteracted by the end of deductions on employer-provided health care. Michael Tanner has more on the benefits.

Schools have greatly improved their emphasis on physical education and nutritional content of meals offered in school cafeterias. Obesity rates among the young and the disease they engender are stabilized and beginning to decline.

The Schools of the Future have done this how? Does McCain plan a Huckabee-in-Arkansas mandate? I'm willing to listen to his plan, but this promise is pure vapor without it.

The federal government and states have cooperated in establishing backstop insurance pools that provide coverage to people hard pressed to find insurance elsewhere because of pre-existing illness.

Most states already have high-risk pools, and since the pre-existing illnesses we're going to start talking about as the Boomers start withering—heart disease, Alzheimers—I'd like to get a cost for this.

The reduction in the growth of health care costs has begun to relieve some of the pressure on Medicare; encouraging Congress to act in a bipartisan way to extend its solvency for twenty-five years without increasing taxes and raising premiums only for upper income seniors.

I'd sort of like to know how: McCain's only cost-saving solution thus far seems to be to change the scheme for reimbursements and to crack down on fraud. It seems, as with his spending solutions, to be change around the margins.

NEXT: Expect More. Pay Less.

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  1. for reimbursements and to crack down on fraud.

    Doesn’t the ever increasing pool of government money and bureaucracy in healthcare (medicare especially) increase the liklihood of fraud?

  2. erh likelihood…

  3. paying for outcome in the treatment of disease rather than individual procedures

    I think this is an excellent idea; I’m not sure the AMA will embrace it.

    As for schools’ promotion of physical fitness, we should remove our schools from the electrical grid, and instead have student-powered generators.

  4. Wow, an S.T. reference earlier this week and now Disturbed? Right on.

  5. Since we have a tax system that’s going nowhere soon, why not allow doctors and hospitals who treat uninsured patients to take 60% of their fees off their income tax? This would help extend medical coverage, but not provide such an incentive that they would neglect other patients or see uninsured patients before insured ones (unless they had some bad capital gains taxes or something). And while this would make use of an existing bloated bureaucracy, it would not add another one.

  6. sage – did you ever see the Dawn of the Dead remake? It started off with “Down With the Sickness”. Great choice for that movie.

  7. paying for outcome in the treatment of disease rather than individual procedures

    This sounds very nice in principle, but it will set off a cataclysmic confrontation between health care providers and patients/their families, because people want care even when it has a low probability of success.

    This approach would set up a scenario where health care providers will either (a) start refusing to provide a lot of care, even when demanded by families, because the chances of a successful outcome are low or (b) a lot of health care providers will go bankrupt.

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