Mayberry Misleads on Medicare | FactCheck.org

July 31, 2010

Would the sheriff of Mayberry mislead you about Medicare? Alas, yes.

In a new TV spot from the Obama administration, actor Andy Griffith, famous for his 1960s portrayal of the top law enforcement official in the fictional town of Mayberry, N.C., touts benefits of the new health care law. Griffith tells his fellow senior citizens, “like always, we’ll have our guaranteed [Medicare] benefits.” But the truth is that the new law is guaranteed to result in benefit cuts for one class of Medicare beneficiaries — those in private Medicare Advantage plans. More at FactCheck.org


Dems’ Health Care Plans Mean Lower Quality, Long Waits | Cal Thomas: RealClearPolitics

July 30, 2010

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., told a group of liberal activists meeting in Las Vegas they shouldn’t worry about not getting the single-payer provision in the new health care law. “We’re going to have a public option,” Reid said. “It’s just a question of when.” More at RealClearPolitics


Peter Orszag’s Last Words: Obama’s Budget Chief Exits | Daylo Olopade: The Daily Beast

July 30, 2010

As one of the most zealous and involved members of Obama’s cabinet, he helped drag health reform legislation over the finish line, and didn’t mind gloating about “the most promising set of reductions to future cost growth in history.” He also took the time to lob grenades at his most vocal detractors during the process—specifically Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, whose ideas on health-care reform, Orszag said, are “fundamentally flawed.”  More at The Daily Beast


Neither Roosevelt nor Reagan | Noemie Emery: The Weekly Standard

July 30, 2010

When he signed the health care reform bill earlier this year, Barack Obama gave progressives the prize they had aimed at for seven-plus decades, an event they compared to the passage of civil rights and of Social Security. At the same time, he destroyed the best chance the Democrats had for enduring center-left governance since the mid 20th-century, shattered the coalition that brought him to power, and dealt his party and faction a political setback from which they may not recover for years. More at The Weekly Standard


Americans Cut Back on Visits to Doctor | Avery Johnson, Jonathan D. Rockoff and Anna Wilde Mathews: WSJ.com

July 29, 2010

“We have a very weak economy and it’s just a different environment for the elective parts of health care,” said Paul Ginsburg, a health economist who runs the Center for Studying Health System Change and has been analyzing health-company earnings. But “this could go beyond the recession. Being a less aggressive consumer of health care is here to stay.”

Continued weak demand could eventually put downward pressure on spiralling health-care costs, a long-sought goal of policy makers. It could also force insurers to lower premiums. More at WSJ.com


Medical School Debt: A Path Out | Wright on Health

July 29, 2010

“According to an article in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology profiled in the Wall Street Journal, there’s a new proposal that might work to provide the needed incentives and disincentives. How does the proposal work? Simple. Eliminate tuition and fees at medical schools and then let the medical schools take a cut of the physicians’ income for the first decade after their training is complete. For public medical schools, doctors would hand over 5% of their annual income. For private medical schools, the figure is double that. There are other elements to the proposal, but that’s the key.” More at Wright on Health….


Democrats May Repeal New Tax-Reporting Rules in Health Bill | Martin Vaughan: WSJ.com

July 29, 2010

Congressional Democrats may water down or repeal new tax-reporting rules that are supposed to raise $16 billion for health-care legislation, facing a chorus of criticism about the rules. More at WSJ.com


Federal Debt and the Risk of a Financial Crisis | CBO Director’s Blog

July 28, 2010

Further increases in federal debt relative to the nation’s output almost certainly lie ahead if current policies remain in place. The aging of the population and rising costs for health care will push federal spending, measured as a percentage of GDP, well above the levels experienced in recent decades. Unless policymakers restrain the growth of spending, increase revenues significantly as a share of GDP, or adopt some combination of those two approaches, growing budget deficits will cause debt to rise to unsupportable levels, as shown in the figure below. More at Director’s Blog


Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator | Center for Economic and Policy Research

July 28, 2010

The CEPR Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator shows that if the U.S. can get health care costs under control, our budget deficits will not rise uncontrollably in the future. But if we fail to contain health care costs, then it will be almost impossible to prevent exploding future budget deficits.

The Calculator lets you see what projected U.S. budget deficits would be if we had the same per person health care costs as any of the countries listed below, all of which enjoy longer life expectancies than the U.S. (Life expectancies are listed in parentheses.) More at Health Care Budget Deficit Calculator


The ER myth | Marc Siegal: USATODAY.com

July 28, 2010

It’s not terribly surprising that real data from Massachusetts, which has had universal health coverage since 2006, show otherwise. From 2004 to 2008, ER visits in the Bay State rose by 9%, with no discernable improvement after 2006. Why? At least part of the reason has been the inability of patients to find primary care physicians for last-minute visits. Let’s face it: The ER won’t turn you away, but individual and overburdened doctors can and will. The Massachusetts Medical Society has reported that new patients wait for a primary care doctor visit up to two months. More at USATODAY.com