Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Health Care Reform Redux

This morning’s Boston Globe included an article by reporter Marcella Bombardieri summarizing the health care reform proposals of Democratic presidential candidates Clinton, Obama, and Edwards. Particular attention was given to the proposals of Senator Clinton, who headed up the failed and famous health care reform effort during the early years of her husband’s administration.

Predictably, the emphasis of all three proposals is the provision of coverage for the uninsured. The Clinton campaign organization estimated the cost of her proposal at $100 billion per year. Knowing how such things work, it is probably safe to assume that the real number would be more than double that.

Her organization proposes to finance her program with a combination of “savings from healthcare innovations such as electronic medical records and more preventive care and a rollback of President Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy.” Actually, the effect of electronic medical records has up to now been to increase cost. Preventive care also increases cost because it causes people to live longer and run up more medical bills.

The new $100 billion (or, more likely, $200+ billion) would be a windfall for an already prosperous and overfinanced health care delivery system and would give it a major shove in the direction of the 20% of the national economy towards which it seems headed.

We would all like for everyone to have health insurance. But that is not the only issue involved here. The cost of health care is out of control and unless something is done about that, even the government won’t be able to afford to pay for health insurance.

The article quoted Robert D. Reischauer, president of the Urban Institute, as doubting that the proposals would be enacted because of the press of other issues like the Iraq war.

I, too, predict that they will go nowhere. My reason is that they would cause more problems than they would solve.

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