Healthcare and Obamanomics

From The Washington Post:

President Obama is proposing to begin a vast expansion of the U.S. health-care system by creating a $634 billion reserve fund over the next decade, launching an overhaul that most experts project will ultimately cost at least $1 trillion.

The “reserve fund” in the budget proposal being released today is Obama’s attempt to demonstrate how the country could extend health insurance to millions more Americans and at the same time begin to control escalating medical bills that threaten the solvency of families, businesses and the government.

Obama aims to make a “very substantial down payment” toward universal coverage by trimming tax breaks for the wealthy and squeezing payments to insurers, hospitals, doctors and drug manufacturers, a senior administration official said yesterday.

Embedded in the budget figures are key policy changes that the administration argues would improve the quality of care and bring much-needed efficiency to a health system that costs $2.3 trillion a year.

Will the President enact this plan that will improve the quality and efficiency of healthcare by waving a magic wand and saying “abracadabra”?  He’ll need a little — no, make that a lot — of magic to make such a preposterous plan work.  Does he think that the hospitals, doctors and drug manufacturers who provide healthcare for Americans will just sigh and provide the same quality and quantity of healthcare for less pay?

I’m also a bit unclear on how Mr. Obama’s healthcare plan, like all of his other financial plans, seem to revolve around the idea that if something costs too much then by the government spending gigantic amounts of money on it, the cost will come down.  This seems at odds with what economists call arithmetic.  What else is in the Obama health plan?

Wealthy senior citizens would also be asked to pay higher premiums for Medicare drug coverage, similar to the higher premiums they now pay for physician visits, according to the Obama blueprint.

Wealthy senior citizens?  I suspect we’ll see the term “wealthy” defined down quite a bit.  By the way, why are Medicare patients having to pay anything for their medications?  Wasn’t the idea of Medicare Part D that the taxpayers federal government would pay for old folks medicine for them?  Is this some sort of admission that this was a popular but fiscally stupid idea?

[E]xperts have identified hospital readmissions — especially for elderly patients — as a sign of poor care and unnecessary expense.

Could I have the names and contact information for these “experts”?  I’d like to see the methodology by which they determined that hospital readmissions for elderly patients with numerous chronic diseases is the result of poor care by healthcare workers.  I’d also like to see their numbers on the cost of providing allegedly higher quality care that would presumably preclude hospital readmissions compared against the “unnecessary expense” that we have now.

Yes, I think that magic wand is going to be critical here.

2 Responses to “Healthcare and Obamanomics”

  1. Smoke and mirrors… smoke and mirrors.

    Like pouring gasoline on a fire: adding $634 billion to a “reserve fund” without any attempt a reining in costs?

    Smoke and mirrors.

    Maybe we should ask for some of what they’re smokin’.

  2. Aaron B Says:

    “[E]xperts have identified hospital readmissions — especially for elderly patients — as a sign of poor care and unnecessary expense.”

    Ah, I see… I think you misinterpreted this. You see, the unnecessary expense is readmitting elderly patients. Instead, you should just… don’t re-admit them. There. No expense. Problem solved.

    That is how our healthcare will work. There will be triage to determine “necessary” expenses, and those not deemed necessary will be denied. Imagine this: A seventy year old with a tumor requests surgery to remove a mass that will surely kill him. This might be determined to be an unnecessary treatment, as he’s lived a long life and surgery/recovery is far too expensive to spend on someone fortunate enough to have lived that long… Sen. Ed Kennedy would be dead of a brain tumor, but what a fortunate man to have lived so long, they would say.

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