Medicare: An ocean of money

 - 
06/10/2009

The Wall Street Journal published a heavy-handed editorial today that blasts the Obama administration's case for healthcare reform. What timing: Sen. Chris Dodd, D-Conn., was expected to introduce a reform bill today.

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The Journal doles out a few zingers. To help reduce costs, the Obama administration's ideas include ramping up health information technology; emphasizing prevention and healthy living; rejiggering reimbursement policies so doctors and hospitals are paid more for quality care; and funding federal research that compares the effectiveness of medical treatments. Sounds good, right? But to that, the Journal says:

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These are the lovable bromides of all politicians, and some of them may or may not improve health overall. But there's scant evidence that any of them will ever save real money. There's a reason the Congressional Budget Office can't score them.

So much for dynamic scoring.

Here's what the Journal had to say about Medicare:

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Above all, Medicare is an ocean of money surrounded by people who want some. It is not only an entitlement to beneficiaries, but a de facto revenue entitlement to hospitals, physicians, nursing homes, durable medical equipment suppliers Leviathan trailer Interview the movie and the rest. Even a tweak to the Medicare fee schedule is the small-scale equivalent of closing a military base or trimming farm subsidies. The system will never be as rational as (budget chief Peter Orszag) desires unless it is severed from politics.

Instead of increasing entitlement, the Journal recommends increasing individual responsibility for medical decisions. It points out:

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The Peacemaker dvdrip In 1965, the average American paid more than half of his health care out of pocket. Spending has since increased sevenfold, but the amount that consumers pay directly hasn't even doubled.

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That, to me, seems hard to swallow when, already, two of three bankruptcies result from medical bills, according to a study

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published in the American Journal of Medicine last week.

Liz Beaulieu