David R. Henderson  

Wall Street Journal on Health Care

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Life Extension and the Budget... Hail Victor Fuchs...

Today's lead unsigned editorial on health care in the Wall Street Journal is one of the best they have run.

One good paragraph:

They might have piped up earlier: What they're finally admitting is that all the grandiose talk about "bending the curve" used for months to sell ObamaCare really comes down to their hope that bureaucratic improvisation will make a difference over the long term. Yet the liabilities of the greatest social spending program in American history will be added to the budget almost immediately, and what happens if Mr. Orszag's technocratic revolution doesn't work as promised? Or rather, when it doesn't?

As I have said for months, what Obama did was a gigantic bait and switch, pushing further government intervention in health care as a way to "bend the curve" on health care spending, but really using it to move us closer to more government spending, ore regulation of health insurance, and more controls over health care in general.

Another good paragraph:

The new cost-control apologists concede that there isn't any actual plan for controlling costs: Throw enough speculative policies against the wall, they say, and some breakthrough will stick. Yet Mr. Orszag's no-less-confident predecessors spent decades trying to pull down Medicare spending with little to no success. Technocracy rarely if ever works as intended. Mr. Gawande points to the case study of U.S. farm policy, and if politically sacrosanct agriculture subsidies and rural price-supports are the best to hope for, then what's the worst?

The editors also write:

One liberal sage noted in a 2007 paper that "four decades of empirical research" have shown that insulating people through third-party insurance coverage "from the full cost of health care has been responsible for anywhere from 10% to 50% of the large increase in health expenditures." Ultimately, he concluded, increasing cost-sharing would give individuals a direct stake in more prudent purchasing, as opposed to today's invisible health dollars that vanish as more expensive premiums, foregone wages and higher taxes.

And immediately following:

Those are the words of Jason Furman, now the White House deputy economic director who seems to have been put into witness protection.

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