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  • Morning Bell: Better Ideas to Avoid Our Health Care Nightmare

    The White House Council of of Economic Advisors is set to release a report this morning showing that slowing the growth of health care spending from 6% a year to 4.5% a year could create 500,000 jobs a year and increase the income of the typical American family of four by $2,600 by 2020. CEA Chair Christina Romer told The Hill yesterday: “If we don’t do this, we’re going to be facing a huge mess in 30 years. The nightmare scenario is getting closer.”

    She’s half right. Doing nothing about runaway government spending on Medicare and Medicaid will put the federal government’s credit rating at grave risk. But for all the Obama administration’s talk about controlling health care spending, the report they are releasing today does nothing to address that problem. The Washington Post reports: “The report contains few details about how those ambitious goals would be achieved, however, and does not address any increased federal spending needed to implement health reform.”

    Similarly, the health care savings President Obama touted from six major health care organizations last month are also quickly proving ephemeral. Yesterday those same organizations submitted their 28-page plan to the White House, claiming to identify $2 trillion in savings over 10 years. But Boston University health policy professor Alan Sager tells the Post: “This is a compilation of resolutions to do better. It is not a listing of forces or changes in behavior that will save money.”

    Even when the Obama administration has identified policies they claim will reduce health care costs, independent budget experts have been highly skeptical. Congressional Budget Office Director Douglas Elmendorf recently testified to the House of Representatives that many of the administration’s cost savings measures are not only unlikely to reduce costs, but could potentially even increase them.

    To get around the CBO’s reality based skepticism of Obama’s cost savings claims, liberals in Congress are advocating vesting even more health care decision-making authority in the federal bureaucracy. Add on their plans for an individual mandate to purchase a government-approved package of benefits and a government run health insurance option and their intent is clear: Washington control over health care financing and delivery. It would result in a massive one-size-fits-all government system, and it would depend on flawed financing schemes, new mandates, and higher taxes to pay for it.

    There is an alternative. Unlike the White House, conservatives in Congress have already released a detailed health care reform package. One that introduces market forces into health care by ending the current inequitable and regressive tax treatment of employer-based coverage and expands health insurance options by allowing the states to enact their own reforms. Reviewing the competing visions for health care reform, USA Today reports: “For all those who say the Republican Party is out of ideas, on the issue of health coverage, at least, its proposal is bolder than what the Democrats have offered an asset given the scale of the problem.”

    Quick Hits:

    • According to USA Today, the sale of General Motors to the Obama administration is “a risky play for the economy” that “if it comes apart” could “drag the economy into a deeper recession.”
    • The Obama administration’s bailout of Citigroup might also end up with the federal government owning a “substantial” stake in the bank.
    • The White House continues to refuse to release the cost of President Obama’s “date night” to New York City. Private estimates range from $24,000 to $250,000.
    • Defense Secretary Robert Gates said that if rogue state capabilities develop faster or in a more worrisome way than anybody anticipates, he may ask for more missile defense funding next year.
    • The Levin-McCain Defense Acquisition Reform Bill signed last week will will inhibit rather than improve the Pentagon’s ability to buy things efficiently.
    Posted in Ongoing Priorities [slideshow_deploy]

    32 Responses to Morning Bell: Better Ideas to Avoid Our Health Care Nightmare

    1. Steve, Michigan says:

      Competition, competition, competition. These are the three key principles that will drive down health care costs. The federal government's role should be mostly hands off, except to mandate that all barriers to effective competition be dismantled. An example in Michigan is the "Certificate of Need" requirement that prohibits new major investments in health care unless a company or hospital can persuade a state panel consisting of its competitors of the existence of a "need" for the service or facility. Guess what? It limits the supply of services and facilities which, by the ineluctable forces of economics, raises rather than lowers costs for the consumers (and insurers who have to pay, including the federal government). Doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure this out..just some political courage.

    2. jjay - Louisville, K says:

      As per your standard, you have offered no specifics or details to apply to solving the healthcare issues for citizens in your commentary. Why not do your homework and give substantive information to your readers instead of the constant drivel of complaints, tears and misrepresentation of what is being proposed, with no real answers which you can provide as viable alternatives.

      You act like your readers are a stupid as Congress thinks they are.

    3. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      Obama's politically motivated interference into free markets demonstrates the very worst of an unproductive and destructive economic policy. The healthcare market, left alone, is fully capable of righting itself. Disillusioned consumers that expect big daddy's bailout have bought into a smoke and mirror shell game. The taxed earnings they would end up spending for a government run healthcare system would easily purchase a decent private health insurance policy. Oh, I forgot. Leftist don't understand the simple concept of personal responsibilty.

    4. Christopher Popham S says:

      The Alexander McGee Medical Plan or at least a

      modification of such a plan is a viable alternative to the Federal government controling

      and dictating our health care. Basically,the McGee plan is a medical co-op ownership. Everythingis covered—everything. The annualized cost of health insurancce for a single person is $4704! A family is $12,680. So let's say such a 'plan' was put in place and the average family invested $5000/year, a single person $2000.

      With approximately 110 million families and

      50 million singles, the co-op would have

      $560 BILLION a year..more than half a trillion

      dollars. Health care spending for 2008 amounted to

      $2.4 trillion. Therefor, in a few short years we are able to engender a viable and cost effective

      health care program for all Americans.

      For more details, see my article: Health Care–

      Who Cares–I DO at http://www.breakingnewsjournal.net.

    5. Steve, Michigan says:

      JJay: To be fair, the article did mention a key concept – that of introducing market forces into health care. I might put it another way: The key is to recognize that market forces exist in health care and not to fight them, but to use them to all of our advantage. An example of that is found in the cost of the uncovered services. In many cases they have become commodity services at low cost, precisely because competition exists. E.g. laser eye surgery. In some respects I think that the key to health care will be to "cover" fewer services, at least by government. If given some time, we would find that most services can be provided at a fraction of their current cost as extremely smart people (doctors tend to fall in that category)find innovative ways to deliver many services.

    6. Duck Doger in DC says:

      Why is it that political parties become financially responsible only when they are out of power? The Republicans controlled congress for 12 years (95 – 07) and increased yearly spending from $2.6 to $4.9 trillion (86%). Now that they are out of power they suddenly care about costs.

      If the Republican party had shown any fiscal responsibility during their tenure, I might believe them this time, but, based on their historical performance, they are no better than the Democrats.

    7. Ken Jarvis - Las Veg says:

      Let's talk about this MORE on FaceBook

      Write on My Wall – Ken Jarvis

      or at
      http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=9903708124

      Steve there is NO competition in Health Care

      if you have a Busted Leg

      do you – Shop Around for the Best Price?

      ijay = I agree

      Sure hope YOU go to Facebook

      so we can work together.

      ====

      Now for today's MBell

      "conservatives in Congress have already released a detailed health care reform package."

      The ONLY thing it doesn't do is

      PROVIDE HELP FOR THE 47 MILLION UNINSURED.

      It may be "detailed"

      BUT IT IS NOT "REFORM"

      LVKen7@Gmail.com

    8. Steve, Michigan says:

      Duck: The main key is not which party is in power, but how much power they have. If we assume that power corrupts (an assumption well borne out by history), then our solution is to minimize the power we cede to Washington, no matter which party is in power. It's a concept the founders recognized by setting up our federal system with checks and balances. Since money is power, we also have to shrink the amount of money available to Washington. Let's face it: "All men have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." We have to stop thinking that others should fix our problems. Those others tend to fix their own problems, not ours.

    9. Nelia, AZ says:

      Why do pharmaceutical companies advertize their products via extreme high dollar commercials on TV and other venues. The drugs they push require a prescription from a physician. Do they expect us to go whining to our doctors for these expensive remedies that carry so many serious side-effects, we should avoid them at any cost?

      There is much 'correcting' needs done across the board, but not the government's job. Let's achieve the 'fix' at the ballot box.

    10. John, Colorado says:

      Stop the industry and its (supposed to be our) regulators from murdering or otherwise ruining the lives of inventors who have discovered myriad cures for cancer and other chronic diseases. Change the legal standard of care in medicine to whatever the heck the patient wants to try. The FDA, AMA, FTC should all be abolished and all fraud discovered prosecuted. We'd be better off without them than with them; they are corrupt. Read the 1979 book, "Racketeering in Medicine", the 1995 or so revised book, "World Without Cancer: The Story of Vitamin B-17", and "Vaccinations: Deception and Tragedy". The regulatory agencies and M.D. monopoly organization are MURDERING PEOPLE for money.

    11. J.C. Hughes, Texas says:

      DC Duck, When speaking of conservatives, I'm speaking about the citizenry. Regarding political trappings, I'll agree with your assessment. The Republican party is not perfect and often fails to address conservative concerns. Unfortunately, they're the only party currently large enough to offer conservatives some form of representation. If conservatives don't use that voice, they'll continue to loose it to the likes of Obama, Reid and Pelosi. Now that's a fine mess liberal and swing voters got us into.

    12. David Sayers, NC says:

      KOMRADES,where in our Constistution does it say that the governement is required to take care of and be part of any citizens life from cradle to grave? The government,especially this one,can't run anything. They won't even enforce the laws on the books when it comes to fraud within medicare or medicad. These clowns,both democrate and republican, flush our money down the tube everyday. They lie,cheat and steal and get away with it because we let them. They give themselves pay raises,have large expense accounts,that are hidden by the way,have the best health and retirement plans on the face of the earth and exempt themselves from the laws they make for us but only talk to us when it's election time,why? Because we let them. Don't you think it's time for personal resonsiblity? It's time for you to take care of you, and not let this nanny state mentality continue. Socialism does't work,it will bury us. Don't let Obama and his kommie thugs get away with it.

    13. Richard Bulgarelli says:

      I wish CEA Chair Christina Romer, who believes about healthcare that "we’re going to be facing a huge mess in 30 years. The nightmare scenario is getting closer", would be as concerned with current programs such as Social Security and Medicare. These programs are already in trouble and another big entitlement will just make everything worse.

    14. Pingback: Better Ideas to Avoid Our Health Care Nightmare »Morning Bell: The Foundry – Heritage Foundation « Snow Report Blog

    15. JRP, Oklahoma says:

      One thing i have never understood, the preaident, and congress are supposed to work for us. Do you know any employer who gives thir hired employees a better deal then he has? Put the president and congress under social security and medi-care just like the generar public. Their retirement should be like the main stream public.

    16. michael hutchings says:

      how about a voucher system for the uninsured that works like food stamps and wont tax the very people who make real jobs possible into penury.

      what the new age democrats in all their compassion want is a pound of flesh and they dont care where they draw it from or how much it weakens the body of thought that is america.

      big lefty people are making big plans because they are small inside and they wear them them like children walking in their parents shoes. they cater to the envious and weak, gather and wield them against the industrious that they are so jealous of not for the things they have but for the power they do not have and want above all.

      our economy is to big for central planning and no one size fits all. the problem is spiritual and when secular power grows beyond the religion that created it, it begins to spawn one of its own to control life and death and accomadate its whims.

      that is the beginning of despotism and the end of our country as we know it. for want of a simple cure the body of the host is lost.for want of power for powers sake a soul is killed.when the soul of a nation dies no one wins and history is written in tears and blood leavened with regret.

    17. John, Arizona says:

      In the discussions concerning increased health care costs, why is it that the subject of doctors costs are either minimalized or non-existent. I just went to a dermatologist who spent 15 minutes with me, used his hand dandy liquid nitrogen gun twice, and charged me (i.e. my insurance company) $750.00. He did likewise for my wife. A rip off?

      The doctor's answer is/was "If I reduced or eliminated skin cancer, wasn't it worth it?"

      "Well worth it" says I, "but if that's the case why not charge two or three times that amount?"

      I fear I gave him thought for increasing his prices.

    18. Pingback: Morning Bell: Better Ideas to Avoid Our Health Care Nightmare … | Health

    19. stuart, Ohio says:

      Unless the federal government is willing to use the same kind of healthcare (maybe medicare/aide) they are proposing, I don't want to hear them say one word about making changes to healthcare, especially if they are referring to Universal Healthcare!!

    20. Pingback: It’s All About The Benjamins « Around The Sphere

    21. ella quinn kinston n says:

      I agree with david sayers and j.c.hughes.Keep the intellingence words going.

    22. ella quinn kinston n says:

      Ken jarvis go away.

    23. Steve, Eagle, Idaho says:

      We are perched on the edge of financial collapse. Not because we can't fix this the right way but rather because we want the quick fix. That usually doesn't work and in this case we'll be worse off in a decade than we are today.

      In a nut shell here is the real fix.

      – Educate more Doctors and Nurses – If we are going to pay for reform then lets use the money wisely.

      - All accademically qualified students receive a free college education with one condition. They must practice in the medical field full time (40 hours minimum per week) for 5 years using their skills and education.

      - Incent business investment through 100% 5 year straight line tax write off of all Hospital buildings, 100% 5 year straight line write off of all major equipment purchases, X-Ray, CAT Scan etc;, set a price point you pick it $50K or?

      - Cap all law suite practices (revise tort laws) such that any one found to have a legitimate case may receive up to $1 million dollars, maximum in damages, paid for by the Federal Government, from an annuity investment. Lawyer fees to be no more that $20,000 maximum per case. I would add any medical complications and care to be paid for above and beyond the damages suite (not perfect but we have to put a lid on it)

      - Any and all prescription drug costs are written off from the patients taxes as a 'credit' for the amount the patient paid out of pocket for them. There would have to be some 'circuit breaker' backup for those without resources. That's one I can't fix but it exists today anyway.

      The net effect would be a flood of talented Doctors (have to slap the AMA to get there) and medical professionals. When there is an excess of anything the true costs come down due to competition. With accelerated tax credits on building and capital equipment more business captial would be invited into the market place. If you can create a business plan that has those kinds of cost write offs you can become profitable quicker. More infrastructure creates more competition and competative prices. With 100% tax credit on medications the Drug companies will continue to develop new patent drugs but the individual will realize a tax benefit creating a win win (well except through this Uncle Sam gets less control and less money to control the individual).

      This is how we have stimulated business and job growth for decades. Incentives to build and create rather than tax, restrict and control.

      This should be the Republican Conservative answer to the Marxist Democratic process of Government invervention and control.

    24. Ken Rosenlund, Longw says:

      On both sides of the fence we have to see.

      * Payment: Thinking that the Government is going to pay for healthcare just adds to the operation expense of the transaction of the service. Self payment though it sounds like scary is more than likely the least expensive way to address this cost. Though it should not be seen as a roll over to the HC industry with open checkbook for they need to delayer the accounting process they use for Donut Hole with the Pharmaceutical companies.

      The government insistence of there being the payer is only from the fact they loose the leverage of holding the money and controlling it over the taxpayer.

      *Quality of care: In reports sent to the president there are concerns of quality of care and care abuse. Holding the financial control at the local level will ensure better care and allow practitioners to be able to do what they do, administer patent care.

      *End state: Because it is money involved the Obama administration is seeking control for the administration over the budget process. This administration that is Democrats and Republicans the same ones who were in office under republican and past Democratic two administration before Obama need to understand that we are very disappointed in there performance and sliding to special interest groups. We feel like the spurned lover.

      That that is being proposed is just payback the same as you have done before with our money. You are the steward of that trust and know are accountable.

      http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/100xx/doc10016/Testimohttp://www.nationaljournal.com/congressdaily/cda_

    25. gorio, calif. says:

      The practice of health care in the US has a history of protections of the doctor/patient relationship, perportedly because this tight relationship allows for "better" medical decisions to be made by your doctor. What if it was possible for 5 or 10 doctors or diagnostic specialists to evaluate symtoms via the internet and arrive at a specific treatment/path to treatment which could be refined with a "smart" evaluation program that would give the patient a printout of his/her problem and solutionj choices. The PATIENT would then be empowered to seek out, a treatment location/price/benefit which would be acceptable.

    26. Bart, California says:

      I fear the Coburn plan (it's premature to call it the Republican plan) is just as radical in its own way as most of the Democratic plans. I'm not confident that it's better than the status quo, but with a couple of simple changes I could support it.

      First, restrict the tax credit to insurance policies that perform a pooling function similar to that provided by employer-sponsored group plans, so that existing group plans don't all collapse after healthy members flee in search of cheaper individual coverage. Qualifying plans might be group plans, or an individual plan in a state with community rating laws, or possibly even coverage similar to existing underwritten plans except that they must accept at class-average rates anyone with a certificate of continuous coverage from a previous insurer, similar to the way group plans operate now. I'm not in favor of outlawing individually underwritten coverage as is done in some states, but a tax credit should imply a higher standard.

      There is precedent for using the tax code to subsidize group coverage; we have been doing it for over 60 years with employer-sponsored coverage, it's just that it's been applied erratically and unfairly.

      Second, the tax credit should be worth a fixed percentage of the insured's premium. If the purpose of the tax credit is to give people incentive to purchase coverage (and, I would argue, to purchase coverage in a pool that supports sicker members of the community) then it needs to be done consistently. It makes no sense to give away $5,700 to a family whose insurance only costs half that amount, effectively a 200-percent tax credit. This largess would only cause over-consumption among healthier individuals, and under-consumption by those who need health care. The $2,300/5,700 figures appear to be arbitrary, chosen only because they "dispose" of the $300 billion a year that currently goes toward the employer tax exclusion. This is not a good way to set the value of a tax credit.

      The existing federal tax exclusion is worth around 15-45% of the cost of insurance, depending on the insured's tax bracket. A fairer tax credit should be pegged somewhere in the middle, say 25%. A cap on the total amount of the tax credit is optional, but probably unnecessary. Reducing the value of the tax break from 45% for high-income people down to 25% would reduce the incentive to over-consume, so a dollar cap would not really be needed.

      If the Coburn plan were to pass as currently written, the result would be the collapse of employer-sponsored group plans, with many employees unable to find replacement coverage in the individual markets. States would have to pick up the slack in the form of subsidized risk-pool coverage or by mandating community rating for all coverage. Since there will be no money to pay for expanded risk pools, the end result will be mandatory community rating in many more states than the present 10 or so.

    27. Barb -mn says:

      This became a problem when people decided they had a choice to buy. Many chose not to. Complain to the government and whoola, crisis created, free health care for all!

      Very dangerous coming from government who can pick and choose those to service. When an operation your father may need is not considered since the same operation is needed for a productive 20 year old.

      Open the free market. Government doesn't belong in our health, they'll take short cuts for money savings. Private doctors have the will and integrity.

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    29. John N....Jacksonvil says:

      politicians in general, and most of those in office now specifically, are in the process of ruining our country…I'm sick of political correctness..I'm fed up with whiny "victims"whether they are that way by there own doing or government including them as such for the benefit of dependency creating social programs.. I know there are many others like me…maybe even a large majority…I wish some politicians (from local to federal levels ) would just stand up and say "this is what I believe in and this is what I'll stand for " irregardless of whether it is " in the middle " > we do not need moderation…moderation is spineless comprimise in most case…we need people to stand up for what is RIGHT…not what will buy votes or what will expand political power over others…lies about our history…and…lies about truth…will not change the outcome….the only outcome of our present direction is loss of freedom ,,,which means negative results in all good things

    30. Pingback: Expose Media Bias Politics

    31. maggie from michigan says:

      everybody thinks national healthcare is the answer..why are canadians coming here for care. we are headed in the same direction. Medicare is busted because of the money set aside for it being used greedily for many other govt things. do you really thing natl. healthcare will be used for that only..money in the hands of govt will always grow and find better ways of being spent and growing to larger amts and failure to do what it is meant to do. you all will be sorry 5years down the line you believe in this farce. wake up and smell the roses.

    32. Carolyn Troiano, Che says:

      My name is Carolyn Troiano, and I need help going after Obama for a major Free Speech violation. He is violating my First Amendment right to free speech by trying to prevent me from voicing my opinions on a tax-deductible contribution supported internet site.

      If you go to My.BarackObama.com, a website funded by tax-deductible money, you will see how they’ve set up tools and other resources to help people push the Obama agenda forward – the topic du jour is healthcare reform. People are told to create and attend events that are supportive of Obama. This is how they stole the election.

      So to turn the tables, I went on the site and created my own event, a “GIGANTIC TEA PARTY” up on Long Island in my hometown of Merrick.

      I set this up as a “Take Back Our America” event, and spread the WEALTH (Watch Every American Learn about Healthcare reform) like the Tea Parties of late, and included posted a call for all like-minded citizens to join me. All of the information is at my website:

      http://www.examiner.com/x-13822-Chesterfield-Coun

      The Obama webmaster responded by email saying my words were disrespectful, and that they had taken my event off the website.

      The warning stated that this was a one-time warning, and if I did this again, I would have my access to the website taken away.

      So what’s a girl to do? Create another event. This time it’s in Chesterfield, VA, this coming Saturday, June 20th, at my home or in spirit with me, and I made sure there is room for 1 billion people, in case those disgruntled Iranian voters want to revolt and join our cause too.

      I led the charge to taking back America with a simple statement to the President –

      “Mr. Obama, tear down that firewall!”

      That’s my motto, and I’m taking this as far as I possibly can. Ronald Reagan must be turning over in his grave!

      I’m seeking your help to give some visibility to this fight and let the Obama dictatorship know we will not stand idly by while our own tax dollars continue to be squandered on his Socialist agenda.

      So let me know if you can help, and if you have any suggestions for ramping this up and getting all Americans to understand what’s going on here. Most have no clue.

      Thanks for your time and attention!

      Regards,

      Carolyn (McKillop) Troiano

      13613 Blue Heron Circle

      Chesterfield, VA 23838

      804-590-0055 (H)

      804-647-9946

      wtroiano@verizon.net

      politicat@verizon.net

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