Reality Check on Health Care Reform

David Cutler argues that health care reform will save money. There are certainly ways to spend health care dollars more efficiently. We should concentrate more on primary care and preventive care. This does not mean this will save money, at least for many years, as I’ve discussed previously. It will cost money to provide preventive care services and it will cost money to provide care for those who are now uninsured. It will take quite a bit longer than a decade to see any meaningful cost savings from such health care reform. The Obama administration really over-estimates the value of health information technology and under-estimates the difficulties in getting systems in place which will actually turn out to be of value.

There are many reasons why we should reform health care, and there are certainly societal benefits to improving preventive care and improving access to health care, but arguing it will save money is a bogus argument for health care reform. If the country wants increased health care services we are going to have to pay more for them. Fortunately many polls do show that a majority of voters are willing to pay higher taxes if it means more affordable health care and no longer fearing the loss of coverage. If only the politicians had the courage to admit it will cost money and discuss where it will come from.

David Leonhardt (via Andrew Sullivan) sees one organization which might question some of Cutler’s assumptions:

It’s going to be interesting see whether the Obama administration tries to make a version of this argument to pass a health-care reform bill — and whether the Congressional Budget Office, which will be responsible for coming up with the all-important budget number for the bill, will buy the argument.

Carrie’s Gonna Be A Big Star


I figured from the start that personal attacks on Carrie Prejean, regardless of her views, would only act to turn her into a celebrity. An unknown beauty pageant contestant who opposed gay marriage would remain an unknown beauty pageant contestant if not for all the complaining about what she said. She is now getting one break on television, and if she does a decent job I bet it won’t be her last. Washington Whispers reports she will be a guest-host for one day on Fox & Friends:

Suzanne Scott, Fox vice president for programming, filled me in on the details of the gig for Prejean, who was thrust into the headlines when she rejected gay marriage during the Q&A part of the pageant. “We’re just using her one time,” she said, “to sit with the boys and have some fun.” The boys are cohosts Steve Doocy and Brian Kilmeade. “She has become a national celebrity in the last few weeks, and it’s a fun thing to do,” said Scott. “It’s a good way to try get a little buzz and fun for the show. We’ll see what happens with it,” she added.

Fox & Friends has used news celebs before, and some have gone on to bigger and better things. Scott recalled using Tiki Barber on Fox & Friends while he was a member of the New York Giants. “He went off to become a TV star,” she said. However, said Scott, there have been no talks with Prejean about a future with Fox.

Who knows how Carrie will interpret the plan to “have some fun” with the boys.  They are the “opposite” people, after all. It will be necessary to do all the filming inside as Carrie is known to have a tough time keeping her shirt from blowing off when it is windy, and the FCC really has a hang up about breasts.

(Aside to Perez Hilton: You were right with regards to the issue of gay marriage, but would have been much better off defending your side of the issue without resorting to personal attacks. Calling her a dumb bitch was not a smart response on your part, regardless of whether or not she is dumb. Look who wound up being the winner on this one, even though you were right.)

No Publicity For The “Unwelcome Woman” From Elizabeth Edwards

I fail to see the logic to this:

Elizabeth Edwards has been willing to talk about most anything in interviews about her new memoir that details her husband John’s affair, but only under one condition: Interviewers must agree not to mention the name of the other woman in their broadcasts or stories..

Drake said Edwards’s restriction isn’t motivated by “anger” toward Hunter, but by a desire not to see Hunter profit from the affair. Noting that other notorious figures — such as Ashley Dupré, the call girl who slept with then-New York Gov. Elliot Spitzer — have cashed in on their media attention, Drake said Edwards “doesn’t want to contribute to putting this woman in the spotlight. She feels that, to the extent the media shines attention on people like this, that we encourage this kind of behavior. She doesn’t want to reward bad behavior.”

If Elizabeth Edwards wanted to make sure that Rielle Hunter didn’t receive any publicity perhaps she shouldn’t have written her own book on the affair, and perhaps she shouldn’t be going on all the talk shows to discuss this.  Rielle Hunter is receiving publicity over this regardless of whether her name is used in the interviews.There’s no way around this. If Elizabeth Edwards is going to cash in on the affair she is increasing the chances that Hunter can also do so.

Oh, and for whatever it is worth, at least so far I haven’t seen any signs that Hunter is trying to profit from this. The hush money from John might be all the money she needs.

Drug Czar Calling For Ending Drug War

So far this is just talk and I’ll want to see more actual changes in policy, but at least the drug czar is saying the right things about ending the war on drugs:

The Obama administration’s new drug czar says he wants to banish the idea that the U.S. is fighting “a war on drugs,” a move that would underscore a shift favoring treatment over incarceration in trying to reduce illicit drug use.

In his first interview since being confirmed to head the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Gil Kerlikowske said Wednesday the bellicose analogy was a barrier to dealing with the nation’s drug issues.

“Regardless of how you try to explain to people it’s a ‘war on drugs’ or a ‘war on a product,’ people see a war as a war on them,” he said. “We’re not at war with people in this country.”

Mr. Kerlikowske’s comments are a signal that the Obama administration is set to follow a more moderate — and likely more controversial — stance on the nation’s drug problems. Prior administrations talked about pushing treatment and reducing demand while continuing to focus primarily on a tough criminal-justice approach.

The Obama administration is likely to deal with drugs as a matter of public health rather than criminal justice alone, with treatment’s role growing relative to incarceration, Mr. Kerlikowske said.

Already, the administration has called for an end to the disparity in how crimes involving crack cocaine and powder cocaine are dealt with. Critics of the law say it unfairly targeted African-American communities, where crack is more prevalent.

The administration also said federal authorities would no longer raid medical-marijuana dispensaries in the 13 states where voters have made medical marijuana legal. Agents had previously done so under federal law, which doesn’t provide for any exceptions to its marijuana prohibition.

During the presidential campaign, President Barack Obama also talked about ending the federal ban on funding for needle-exchange programs, which are used to stem the spread of HIV among intravenous-drug users.

The drug czar doesn’t have the power to enforce any of these changes himself, but Mr. Kerlikowske plans to work with Congress and other agencies to alter current policies. He said he hasn’t yet focused on U.S. policy toward fighting drug-related crime in other countries.

Bonus Quote of the Day

“Everybody’s in a giant conspiracy to achieve a different objective than the one we want to achieve.”
Dick Cheney on Iran

Quote of the Day

“They saw the law, many times, as a nicety that we couldn’t afford.”
Lindsey Graham on the Bush administration’s view of the law and justification for torture.