Wednesday, September 16, 2009

As time goes by......

OK, put me on the list of those who don't 'get' how we achieve health care cost savings without a government-run insurance plan or a large regional coop. Why can't progressives like Barack stand up and remind us that, yes, there are government programs that do work reasonably well for the benefit of the country at large--medicare, medicaid, the VA, the national parks service, social security, the FBI, the Pentagon, among hundreds more. Doesn't government have a role to play to provide services when the free market system can't, or won't?

We need to educate the public, and no one is stepping up. Once upon a time, Obama was a professor. Time to put back on your cap and gown, Barack, and take the role of Professor in Chief for a while, since the country clearly 'missed that day' when some of the fundamentals of how the world really works were being presented in class. Let's start with Econ 101.

Day 1. Maybe there are other options besides public plans and so forth, but first we need a good explanation of why traditional market-driven pricing mechansims have completely broken down when it comes to health care.

Remember those supply and demand curves we used to loathe back in the day? In the healthcare marketplace, the fundamental rules don't apply.....the price mechanism, which is supposed to regulate and balance supply and demand of a scarce or limited resource, like oil, corn flakes, and health care, has failed. In a perverted twist of economic fundamentals, the higher the price of health care treatments and medicines, the more we seem to want them.

The unanswered question in much of this is whether, with a competitive well run government program in place, we'll get less healthcare with lower pricing. This is the underlying factor in the dispute around the POV of Dr Richard Pazdur of the FDA, reported in today's NYT. His policy---that the government should only approve cancer drugs with a demonstrated record of some success--has stirred up much protest, and understandably from the families and patients themselves. Who wouldn't be in favor of trying everything possible in the face of likely demise?

Without a more competitive market and tough government standards that focus on healthcare outcomes rather than inputs, we'll never get the costs under control. With terrible consequences. We need an economic dose of reality in healthcare, a solution that rejiggers the fundamentals. This isn't socialism, it's good old-fashioned capitalism----let the fundamental rules again time goes by....

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