Decisions About Medical Care Are Personal Decisions Between You, Your Doctor, and the State Government


The Wall Street Journal notes Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick's latest attempt to reign in the skyrocketing cost of his state's health care plan:

Now that it's expanded health-insurance coverage to nearly all of its citizens, Massachusetts is trying to figure out what to do about the rapid rise of health costs.

The latest proposal comes from the state's governor, Deval Patrick, who yesterday proposed a bill that would give the state the power to review—and, in some cases, reject—rate increases by doctors and hospitals.

No doubt many will see this as a good thing: What's the harm in making sure that providers don't increase their rates too much? Isn't part of the point of health care reform to help keep the cost of care from rising so fast? The way to accomplish that, however, isn't with government-enforced price controls, which is what Patrick's proposal amounts to. Forcing providers to keep prices low will almost certainly result in shortages or cutbacks elsewhere—in innovation, expansion, upkeep, and time and effort spent on care itself. The power to control the price of medical care is the power to control medical care itself.

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  1. Are they going to reveiw the cost of trial attorneys and tort reform. That can keep doctors and hospitals cost down. Doctors and hospitals need to make a buck as well.

    1. Is this some sort of new bot? It offends my sensibilities.

      1. Yes. I quoth myself:

        “Your blog is to spelling as Haiti is to infrastructure.”

        1. Dammit, HoneyBunny. That’s just fantastic.

  2. This is why I laugh at the notion that the Health Insurance Reform being pushed by the Obamacrats won’t increase costs.

  3. Oh Massholes, is there anything you can’t fuck up?

    1. Just keep your eye on Scott Brown!

      1. Er, I mean nepotism…sheesh.

      2. I was thinking more of The Big Dig, but OK.

    2. Don’t blame me, I voted for Mitt!

      Oh, wait. Never mind.

  4. The pattern of interventionism once again: the intervention fails, and the response is another intervention.

    1. Job security.

  5. We already have this system in Hawaii. It can result in a Kabuki theatre: the insurance companies propose increases that are double what they need to remain profitable, the insurance commissioner cuts the increase in half and issues a press release claiming the administration has “saved” (or created?) consumers money, and the insurance company gets the increase they intended to get.

    The problem arises when someone fails to understand how this system operates, and you wind up with inappropriate rates.

    1. Essentially, if all the insiders understand the game, you can wind up with rational outcomes while politicians curry favor with voters by pandering to their gross economic misconception that price controls actually work well.

      The problem is, you don’t always get rational outcomes, since no one is allowed to meet in PC non-smoke-filled rooms and talk over how this charade should play out.

  6. [R]etainer medicine … the last refuge for classic medical ethics, and the last best hope for patients, the profession of medicine, and the doctor-patient relationship.”

    Please interview (author and classical liberal) Dr. Rich, Reason!

  7. Maybe they should think about making a health care budget, and not paying just giving providers carte blanche when it comes to spending.

    For example, stop heroic end of life care etc.

    Also 5:00 AM PT sounds good !

    1. OK.

      No Carte Blanche.

      Can I use my MasterCard instead?

  8. The power to control the price of medical care is the power to control medical care itself.

    He who controls the Spice, controls the universe!

  9. “Reign” should be “rein”

    1. Thank you, Pedantic Reader.

      1. Yeah. That one really gets up my nose. Also “cohort” for “compatriot” but that horse is so far out of the barn that he’s sipping Margaritas on the moon.

  10. Although this is the wrong way to go about it, this measure is targeting the biggest issue in rising health care costs- the market power of certain provider networks. Any reform worth discussing has to deal with countering their market power.

    1. just wait until Charlie Baker (former CEO of Harvard Pilgrim Health Care) replaces Patrick at governor — then we’ll have some fun!

  11. My home company is based in Boston. My insurance deductions go up every year to pay for RomneyCare’s universalness. The home office knows the numbers don’t add up, despite their overwhelming progressivism. They’re pushing for ObamaCare thinking that it will be “free” them from the costs of RomneyCare.

  12. Forcing providers to keep prices low will almost certainly result in shortages or cutbacks elsewhere?in innovation, expansion, upkeep, and time and effort spent on care itself.

    Massholes will, however, have 49 other states handling the innovation for them. Kinda like how Europe outsources its mediacal innovation to us. Eventually, the entire civilized world will be reliant on 3 mountain west states to supply all of their new medicine.

    1. Is there anything Montana cant do?

  13. Couldn’t have seen this coming.

  14. Lowering healthcare costs means paying doctos/nurses/drug companies/etc. less…right?

    1. Yes and no… It means paying less per unit of “health care”.

      That doesn’t necessarily mean that you pay people less but that they are more productive overall. Ultimately I suspect that salaries would come down if the AMA lost it’s stranglehold on the licensing thing but that’s hard to predict.

      Ultimately what we need is a massive increase in the production of health-care goods & service providers… This would happen with some legitimate competition (not the pretend government run variety), but the price reduction may or may not be in salaries – for instance, a factory of 100 people producing 1,000,000 units of X drug per day might benefit from some new piece of machinery that enables them to produce 2,000,000 units of X drug per day… Their salaries might (and probably should) increase, even as the price per unit of X goes down.

  15. MA is living through the consequences of what happens when you increase demand without increasing supply.

    They’re living through it, but they’re not learning a damn thing.

    1. Everyone in MA has “access” to healthcare. And as soon as they build the facilities, they’ll actually get that healthcare they have access to.

    2. It’s a little mindblowing that no one seems to learn anything about these events. It’s not even that hard… The relationship between supply & demand is about the easiest concept of all time to understand and it’s managed to completely elude politicians for centuries.

      1. I think it’s more a case of politicians trying to elude the concept than the other way around.

        TBS, the way people demand that “the government” provide them with ‘free’ jobs, pensions, health care, education, etc does indicate a fundamental inability to understand economics in the general population.

    3. They’re also living through the consequences of concentrated provider networks

  16. That’s because, in a politician’s brain, the word “demand” is pronounced “command”.

    Not sure if its genetic, or what, but there it is.

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