Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Early February NewsLinx

Patrick Paule sent us this link to an interesting - if infuriating - story on how the Obamastration has decided, against all precedent, to ignore the recommendations of Medicare Trustees.

Why should you care?

Well, the Trustees' projections regarding the long-term growth of health care costs underpins its own projections, and ignoring it in the budget is a recipe for potential disaster.

■ Over the weekend, the Wall Street Journal had an interview with WellPoint CEO Angela Braly. WP is currently the "largest U.S. commercial health insurer by membership ... [its] affiliated health plans in 14 states cover 34 million people—or roughly one out of nine Americans."

They also contract with some 8 in 10 of our country's primary care doc's, as well as more than 9 in 10 of its hospitals. That's a lot of providers. By contrast, Medicare can boast of only about 75% of physicians.

Ms Braly must be a closet IB reader, as she concludes (quite correctly) that "[h]ealth-care reform" soon became "health-insurance reform" exclusively. It was a pivot that was—unfortunate ... because it is not going to solve the longer-term problem."


■ Late last week, we received an "embargoed" news item from CMS (the gummint agency responsible for Medicare and other programs). We honored their request, and held off reporting this rather startling news:

"Growth in national health expenditures (NHE) in the United States is expected to have increased faster than the growth in the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) last year."

On the other hand:

"The projected acceleration in growth for 2009 was due in part to faster spending growth for the Medicaid program ... reflecting increasing growth in enrollment associated with the recession. Also contributing to the acceleration was faster growth in the use of a variety of health care services as many sought treatment for the H1N1 virus and an expected increase in the take-up rate for coverage provided through ... (COBRA) in response to the government's subsidization of COBRA premiums."

So let's get this straight: health care costs rose because more people sought treatment, and health expenditures rose because more people lost their jobs and looked to the (few?) remaining taxpayers to subsidize their health insurance costs?

Yet we have folks who think that having the government actually run the entire health care delivery and financing system would solve the problem?

What's in the water?
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