Thursday, March 19, 2009

The Newest Health Care Reform Arithmetic--Unbelievable!

"A coalition representing 30 health care organizations on Monday asked lawmakers in the House and Senate to suspend pay-as-you-go rules when drafting and passing health care overhaul legislation, saying much of the savings introduced by such a plan would be realized beyond the rules' 10-year budget window."

That paragraph from last week's Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report caught my eye.

I don't know whether to laugh or cry on account of this one.

The report cites arguments that major health care reform changes can produce trillions of dollars in savings beyond 10 years, but that many of the changes would require upfront investment.

What's even more startling to me is that the 30 organizations includes the U.S Chamber and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufactures of America--good Republicans all. The group also includes AARP and the AFL-CIO.

I guess these strange bedfellows can all agree that if there is more money in it for each of them they can come together!

You know, it's one thing to do a ten-year federal budget projection and back-end load all of the savings. That is, "We won't save any money in the near and mid-term but ten years out you don't have to worry." That convoluted "dream on" budgeting has been around Washington, DC forever. But the new one is, "Don't worry if we spend $1.5 to $1.7 trillion (the newest health care reform estimates) over ten years--most of it running up the deficit even further--because we'll be able to pay it all back in 15 or 20 years."

Apparently, we have come to a point where this year's almost $2 trillion budget deficit has numbed everyone's fiscal sensibility. I have no other explanation for how these stakeholders could make this suggestion with straight faces.

We need to do health care reform because our system is outstripping our ability to pay for it now. Costs are out of control now. Medicare is about to go insolvent now. The average cost for employer-provided family health insurance exceeds $12,000 a year now.

When costs are out of control you do not rationalize letting them stay out of control for another decade. You fix it a lot sooner--not more then ten years later.

Or you don't fix it and just screw up the American financial system for a few more generations to come--literally.

These 30 organizations should be ashamed of themselves.
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