Posts Tagged ‘health care summit’
February 26th, 2010 at 10:36 am
Yesterday’s Healthcare Summit Did Accomplish Something
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Many political pundits immediately labeled yesterday’s healthcare summit a failure simply because it failed to result in some misplaced compromise.  But that is too narrow a perspective.  For conservatives and libertarians, the conference actually served a positive purpose.

Pardon our cynicism, but Barack Obama’s purpose in convening the conference was not to consider opponents’ legitimate points or data.  Despite Democrats’ baseless “party of ‘no'” broadsides, multiple Republican alternatives to ObamaCare have been readily available for months for all to see.  Rather, Obama’s goal was to once again ascend the stage and provide yet another “last and final” lecture to Americans on the wisdom of ObamaCare.  After all, he revealed his opinion on why his efforts had failed so far when he absurdly stated in his State of the Union address that, “I take my share of the blame for not explaining it more clearly to the American people.”

Thus, as liberals almost invariably do, Obama mischaracterized his failure as one of tactics or communication to the plodding American electorate, rather than one of defective policy.

Obama remains under the strange impression that all he needs to do is take the stage once again to cast his magical spell, and the fawning media reflexively praises him every time.  His September healthcare speech to a joint session of Congress, his State of the Union address and his recent appearance before a Republican Congressional gathering are the latest examples.  But if he is such an effective persuader and communicator, why does he keep having to repeat the same tired points?

That brings us to the reason why yesterday’s summit was a success for opponents of the ObamaCare takeover.  Namely, that Obama not only failed to dazzle the assembled opposition, but actually got schooled.  As just one example, Obama attempted to scold Senator Lamar Alexander (R – Tennessee) by saying, “this is an example of where we’ve got to get our facts straight.”  A short time later, Obama was forced to admit that ~he~ was the one whose “facts weren’t straight.”  Moreover, Obama clearly appeared petulant and flustered, and avoided even attempting to battle rising Republican Congressional superstar Paul Ryan (R – Wisconsin) on Ryan’s substantive data and argument.

Meanwhile, the American people were able to witness the avalanche of reasons why ObamaCare is a toxic proposal.  For that reason, yesterday was a victory for conservatives and libertarians who oppose Obama’s healthcare boondoggle, and a loss for those seeking to impose it.

February 26th, 2010 at 2:29 am
Breaking the Iron Triangle of Health Care
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During today’s health care summit at Blair House, Wyoming Republican Senator John Barrasso (an orthopedic surgeon by trade) dropped the jaws of Democrats in attendance by declaring that individuals who only have “catastrophic care” health insurance (which Democrats had been spent all day citing as a moral failure) often make better medical decisions than people with more comprehensive plans. Barasso’s reason was simple — these consumers actually have to consider the cost of their treatments.

Though President Obama and Congressman Henry Waxman were quick to ridicule Barasso, he got to a truth that is at the very root of meaningful health care reform: the system can’t work as long as consumers are being insulated from costs.

Two economic maxims suffice to make the point: (1) “If you’re paying, I’ll have the steak” — There is no incentive to keep your spending under control when someone else is footing the bill (2) “No one washes a rental car” — Ownership is the best motivation for vigilance, because if something goes wrong, you’ll be the one eating the costs. Having someone else shield you from health care expenditures only weakens your incentive to be vigilant in regard to your own well-being

Earlier in the day’s proceedings, Obama and Democratic Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois rained on the tort reform parade by claiming that the $5 billion a year that could be saved by reforming the malpractice system would be a drop in the $2 trillion health care bucket (as an aside, I’ve always thought this is a bizarre rationale — how can anyone expect to realize large savings if they ignore all the incremental savings that will get them there?). Yet if tort reform was too picayune, why are Democrats ignoring Barrasso’s point, which got to the heart of what drives health care costs through the roof?

The problem with modern health care is that is built on a triangular model. In most cases, one person pays for the care (an employer), one person consumes the care (the patient) and one person provides the care (the doctor). This is a recipe for unhappiness and inflation, because the person who consumes is unaccountable to the person that pays, and the person that provides is unaccountable to the person they provide for (Harvard’s Regina Herzlinger has been invaluable on this point).

The Republican talking point is that health care needs to be reformed in small, incremental chunks. That may be a sound legislative strategy, but it’s not true as a matter of policy. The system needs to be fundamentally reformed and placed on a consumer-driven basis (and yes, conservatives, you can learn from Europe — Switzerland has a pretty good model. If you’re really in the mood for right-wing apostasy take a gander at Whole Foods’ ideas too). Subsidies are always going to be necessary for the indigent, but more far-reaching government control is not the answer. Comprehensive reform that makes health care market-driven is.

February 25th, 2010 at 11:56 pm
It Really Is Terrible Being the Smartest Person in the Room

One of my favorite scenes in the movie Broadcast News has a news executive sarcastically telling Holly Hunter’s character that it must be great being the smartest person in the room. On the brink of tears, Hunter confesses the truth: “No; it’s terrible!”

Such is the fate of Barack Hussein Obama, President of the United States and occasional scold of congressional Republicans. In case you missed it, President Obama hosted handpicked members of representatives and senators at Blair House today to discuss health care “reform.” After watching the morning session of the seven-hour long affair, Yuval Levin offered this observation about the president’s most recent foray into legislative deliberation.

But he doesn’t seem like the President of the United States—more like a slightly cranky committee chairman or a patronizing professor who thinks that saying something is “a legitimate argument” is a way to avoid having an argument. He is diminished by the circumstances, he’s cranky and prickly when challenged, and he’s got no one to help him. The other Democrats around the table have been worse than unimpressive.

Among other things that could be said, the president doesn’t come across as the kind of guy anyone would want to have a beer with. Coupled with his condescending use of other people’s first names when they would not dare break protocol to call him Barry, the president increasingly looks like what he may very well be: a smarter-than-everyone-else-in-the-room jerk.