Putting Quotation Marks Around Obama's Health Care "Reform"

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Dr. Obama

Invaluable Washington Post economics columnist Robert Samuelson calls out President Barack Obama for his "Misleading Medicine." Samuelson writes:

The most misused word in the health care debate is "reform." Everyone wants "reform," but what constitutes "reform" is another matter. If you listen to President Obama, his "reform" will satisfy almost everyone. It will insure the uninsured, control runaway health spending, subdue future budget deficits, preserve choice for patients and improve quality of care. These claims are self-serving exaggerations and political fantasies. They have destroyed what should be a serious national discussion of health care.

The health-care conundrum involves a contradiction that the administration steadfastly obscures: In the short run—meaning four to eight years—government cannot both insure the uninsured and rein in health spending. (emphasis added). Here's why. The notion that the uninsured get little or no care is a myth: They now receive about 50 to 70 percent as much health care as the insured. If they become insured, they would use more health care, possibly as much as today's insured. That would increase both government and private health spending, depending on how the insurance is provided. 

See also my colleague Shikha Dalmia's excellent column on Obama's health care "reform" dishonesty here.

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  1. “Health insurance reform will save you and your family money,” [said President Obama].

    Which money and more will be taken back by “reforms” in other areas.

  2. Scare quotes should be used around all political buzzwords.

  3. Here is a write up on the Cash for Clunkers program, a small simple initiative run by the federal government.

    I can’t wait to see the forthcoming health care rules and regulations.

  4. I have a proposal.

    The government should designate certain persons as “tax creditable uninsured” so that when medical care is provided to those so designated, the providers may credit expenses incurred in providing care against their tax liabilities.

  5. If anyone doubts the government’s ability to run health care, I challenge them to even attempt to belittle the rousing success of Medicare and VA hospitals. You don’t hear any complaining from those patients, do you?

  6. When I listen to Obama talk about his “reform”, I hear him make so many ridiculous promises that any second I expect him to declare that he’ll succeed because he’s got magic ponies on his side.

  7. “Blue Dogs who are dragged into Speaker Pelosi’s office should be aware of just how she is selling the health care bill. Yesterday, she told supporters it represented “real change,” because it meant “a cap on your [health care] costs, but no cap on your benefit.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970204886304574308352201046852.html

    Is Pelosi and by extension Obama that mind numbingly stupid or do they think the American public is that mindnumbingly stupid?

  8. Is Pelosi and by extension Obama that mind numbingly stupid or do they think the American public is that mindnumbingly stupid?

    That’s a rhetorical question, right?

  9. http://cnsnews.com/public/content/article.aspx?RsrcID=51584
    Rep. John Carter (R-Texas) made public last week an e-mail from the Franking Commission — a bipartisan panel that oversees messages from lawmakers — asking him to change the phrase “government run” health care to “public option.”…

    …”I received the script back from the majority, and there are a couple of changes that need to be made to make it compliant,” the Franking Commission e-mail said. “In the first paragraph (answering machine message, automatic connection) change ‘House Democrats unveiled a government run health care plan’ to either ‘the house majority (sic) unveiled a public option health care plan’ or ‘Just this past week the House majority (sic) unveiled a health care plan which I believe will cost taxpayers ?.'”

    “Change this on both scripts and send it back to me,” the e-mail concluded….

  10. The uninsured get 50-70% of the healthcare that the insured gets? But someone who knew every single poor person to die from their own ignorance but blamed the system on this very site said that they don’t get any and then their cars get repossessed (despite the fact that hospitals can’t take your stuff…PERIOD), so obviously there’s something wrong. Right?

  11. The uninsured get 50-70% of the healthcare that the insured gets? But someone who knew every single poor person to die from their own ignorance but blamed the system on this very site said that they don’t get any and then their cars get repossessed (despite the fact that hospitals can’t take your stuff…PERIOD),

    Here in Texas at least, there are no restrictions on a hospital’s ability to enforce its debts. Not only that, but we have our very own lien on liability insurance proceeds.

    Now, realistically, a hospital isn’t going to seize your car, because if you skipped out on your hospital bill, in all probability you don’t own your own car anyway – its underwater on your auto finance note.

  12. “They now receive about 50 to 70 percent as much health care as the insured.”

    I hope none of you around believe the emergency room at the county hospital is an effective way to cover the non-insured.

  13. I hope none of you around believe the emergency room at the county hospital is an effective way to cover the non-insured.

    Compared to what the current health care legislation is trying to do to health care delivery for everybody in the nation, covering the uninsured at the emergency room is far, far preferable.

  14. I hope none of you around believe the emergency room at the county hospital is an effective way to cover the non-insured.

    Compared to what?

  15. One thing I get tired of hearing about is how it is such a “crisis” that 47 M people (or whatever the REAL number is) have no health insurance.

    Prior to World War 2, practically no one had health insurance. Then the government slapped wage controls on companies so they could not compete for employees by offering them more pay, so they started to compete by offering other benefits like health insurance.

    Was anybody running around squealing about the lack of insurance being a “crisis” before WW2?

    No they weren’t. If it wasn’t a crisis then, it’s not a crisis now.

    The only thing that has changed in the interim is an expansion of the “entitlement” mentality where more and more people think that they are entitled to healthcare regardless of whether they can pay for it or not.

  16. I’ve been mentioning this in several other threads. NPR officially (unofficially?) nixed from their style guide the word ‘reform’ when talking about Obama’s plan. NPR, in any news report now refers to it as the “healthcare overhaul”.

  17. A lot of people like that reform.

    Maybe we should get us some.

    Midget and broom and whatnot.

  18. “I’ve been mentioning this in several other threads. NPR officially (unofficially?) nixed from their style guide the word ‘reform’ when talking about Obama’s plan. NPR, in any news report now refers to it as the “healthcare overhaul”.

    Uh Huh.

    Just like “global warming” has been changed to “climate change”.

    Another attempt to put lipstick on a pig.

    The proper term for Obama and the Dem’s plan is healthcare DEFORM.

  19. Just like “global warming” has been changed to “climate change”.

    Another attempt to put lipstick on a pig.

    Actually, to give NPR credit, according to the brief remark made by one of the local NPR show hosts, it was because ‘reform’ indicated something ‘good’ would come of it. NPR apparently doesn’t want to continue to give credence to the idea that the healthcare system will be better after Obama’s done with it.

    A lot of people like that reform.

    Maybe we should get us some.

    Midget and broom and whatnot.

    Obama ain’t got no constituency… he’s the damned incumbent!

  20. # Gilbert Martin | July 27, 2009, 2:08pm | #

    # If it wasn’t a crisis then, it’s not
    # a crisis now.

    # The only thing that has changed in the
    # interim is an expansion of the “entitlement”
    # mentality where more and more people think
    # that they are entitled to healthcare …

    That’s not all there is to it. There is indeed a “crisis,” in the sense that the insurance-based health care system has driven fees and prices through the roof. Prior to WWII — and, as I recall, even as late as the pre-Medicare early 1960s — medical fees and prices were so reasonable that you could even pay for an operation and a short hospital stay out of modest savings. There was no need to mortgage the house or declare bankruptcy when you got the bill.

    Today, even modest outpatient treatment is punishingly expensive. Common generic prescriptions cost $100 per bottle. A single night in the hospital will bill for five figures. Having insurance mitigates this situation.

    If we were to return to true, free-market health care, as we more-or-less enjoyed prior to WWII, I would expect prices and fees to come down fairly quickly, but perhaps not quickly enough to protect people from being ruined by expenses incurred during the transition period.

    Ideally, the prices and fees need to come down first, so people will be encouraged to ditch the insurance model and start paying for health care more out-of-pocket. The Wal-Mart $4 prescription program is an example of the kind of thing we need to see more of in health care. “Dr. Do-Good’s” subscription-for-services approach in New York State is another (if it can ever get out from under the thumb of the State Insurance Commission). The emergence of mini-clinics in Walgreens, Wal-Marts, CVS, etc., is another potentially helpful trend. But these and other promising developments are in danger of being regulated to death, or banned outright, even without “reform” of the health care system. If “reform” passes, on the other hand, the free-market developments will at very least be shoved aside and crowded out as practically irrelevant, in the industry’s stampede to accommodate the new order.

  21. “That’s not all there is to it. There is indeed a “crisis,” in the sense that the insurance-based health care system has driven fees and prices through the roof.”

    It is primarily the effect of government entitlement programs cost shifting onto private paying and privatly insured patients that is driving up costs more than anything the private insurers have done themselves. That and state government rules mandating what type of things private insurance has to cover based on politics – and preventing nationwide competition for private insurance – and the effect of malpractice lawsuits that the Dems won’t do anything about because they’re in the pocket of the trial lawyers.

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