The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014
Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology
The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious
: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain
April 14, 2014
Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time
: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic
: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships
: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin
: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate
: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure
April 11, 2014
Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden
: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does
: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer
: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You
April 9, 2014
Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?
Samuel G. Freedman
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau
: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease
April 8, 2014
Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease
Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear
April 4, 2014
A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children
Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet
Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds
Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves
April 2, 2014
Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?
Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities
It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene
Jewish World Review
July 27, 2009
/ 7 Menachem-Av 5769
Obama's misleading medicine
Robert J. Samuelson
The most misused word in the health care debate is "reform." Everyone wants "reform," but what constitutes "reform" is another matter. If you listen to President Obama, his "reform" will satisfy almost everyone. It will insure the uninsured, control runaway health spending, subdue future budget deficits, preserve choice for patients and improve quality of care. These claims are self-serving exaggerations and political fantasies. They have destroyed what should be a serious national discussion of health care.
The health-care conundrum involves a contradiction that the administration steadfastly obscures: In the short run meaning four to eight years government cannot both insure the uninsured and rein in health spending. Here's why. The notion that the uninsured get little or no care is a myth: They now receive about 50 to 70 percent as much health care as the insured. If they become insured, they would use more health care, possibly as much as today's insured. That would increase both government and private health spending, depending on how the insurance is provided.
Until health-care costs are better controlled, expanding insurance coverage will be expensive. The president talks endlessly about the need to limit spending and eliminate waste. These are worthy goals. But changing the way medical care is delivered and paid for would take years and involve disruptive and unpopular measures. Patient co-payments might increase; networks of doctors and hospitals might displace individual practices; the tax exclusion for employer-paid health insurance might be curbed. Obama downplays the obstacles. His "reform" isn't likely to compel needed changes, partly because it's not clear what will work.
Evaluations of proposals reflect this reality. The Congressional Budget Office judges that the legislation in the House would, through expanded Medicaid and subsidies for private insurance, reduce the uninsured from 46 million in 2007 to 17 million in 2019. But the cost would be $1 trillion over a decade; of that, $239 billion would add to the budget deficit. Worse, the costs would rise faster than the sources of financing, including a tax on the wealthy. In 2019, the projection's last year, the deficit would be $65 billion. Assuming that the deficit rises 4 percent a year, the cumulative shortfall in the second decade would total about $800 billion.
But Obama sees all blue sky. "Here's what reform will mean for you," he said at a recent rally. "It will mean lower costs and more choices and coverage you can count on. Health insurance reform will save you and your family money," he said. (Note: Except for subsidies, it's doubtful families will experience savings anytime soon.) And later: "We'll also change incentives so that our doctors and our nurses can finally start providing patients with the best care and not just the most expensive care. And if we do that, then reform …will lower our deficits in the long run."
Contrast Obama's reassuring rhetoric with this exchange at a congressional hearing between Sen. Kent Conrad (D-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, and Douglas Elmendorf, head of the CBO.
Conrad: "From what you have seen from the product of the committees that have reported, do you see a successful effort being mounted to bend the long-term cost curve?"
Elmendorf: "No, Mr. Chairman. In the legislation that has been reported, we do not see the sort of fundamental changes that would be necessary to reduce the trajectory of federal health spending by a significant amount. And on the contrary, the legislation significantly expands the federal responsibility for health care costs. …The (cost) curve is being raised."
Judged objectively, "reform" may do exactly the opposite of what Obama says. But because the president is so well-spoken, he has the ability to make misleading statements sound reasonable or sophisticated. Still, they're misleading.
The administration had to make choices; it could emphasize expanded insurance coverage ("access") or cost control, but not both. It chose coverage, embracing the long-standing liberal grail of "universal" insurance. Millions of Americans would receive more health care, though how much their health would improve is uncertain (the administration can't logically argue that much health care is wasteful and also that the uninsured will automatically benefit from more of it). Many with insurance would gain the peace of mind that they won't lose it.
But what helps many Americans as individuals may hurt society as a whole. That's the paradox. Unchecked health spending is depressing take-home pay, squeezing other government programs state and local programs as well as federal and driving up taxes and budget deficits. The president has said all of this; he simply isn't doing much about it. He offers the illusion of "reform" while perpetuating the status quo of four decades: expand benefits, talk about controlling costs. The press should put "reform" in quote marks, because this is one "reform" that might leave the country worse off.
Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.
Comment on Robert J. Samuelson's column by clicking here.
07/13/09: Americans' self-indulgence hurts us
07/06/09: Economists out to lunch
06/29/09: Panics R Us!
06/08/09: Flirting with deflation or inflation? Now the economy might be at risk of both
05/25/09: A crisis America needs
05/18/09: Will somebody finally say that Obama is irresponsibly mortgaging our future?
05/04/09: The Bias Against Oil And Gas
04/27/09: Environmentalists maximize the dangers of global warming while pretending we can conquer it at virtually no cost
04/20/09: Our Depression Obsession
03/23/09: Geithner treads a line between financial paralysis and populist resentment
03/23/09: American Capitalism Besieged
01/06/09: The limits of pump priming
12/29/08: Humbled By Our Ignorance
07/31/08: The homeownership obsession
07/24/08: A Depression? Hardly
07/17/08: Why isn't globalization making the interconnected world more stable?
© 2009, WPWG