Please Stop Shooting the Messenger

It’s like running in mud: the faster you try to move, the more you slip and slide, getting nowhere quick and getting plenty dirty. So, after weeks and even months of debate, here we are, still talking about healthcare, though judging by the clips making the news, there doesn’t seem to be much actual discussion going on. Too many people with too little information are talking at each other and not with each other. Attempting to debate the issues recently, I’ve been called many names, had my character, ethics and moral guidelines questioned, and I have even been challenged on the validity of my personal faith.

What I haven’t had happen yet is for anyone to answer my direct questions on the matter. If I imply that the existing proposal might not cover everyone, I’m told that I, “don’t care about my fellow man.” When I bring up the question of how it will affect the budget, I’m yelled at as being “uncaring” and “greedy”. And if I dare suggest that there might be a better way to accomplish the needed changes, I’m dismissed as a “stupid Republican” who, “would rather do nothing as thousands of uninsured people die needlessly.”

Well I’m sick and tired of people attacking me instead of my arguments. It’s pointless. So, instead of saying one more thing on the subject, I believe I’ll simply defer to the thoughts of others. From here on out, if you disagree with anything you see printed, don’t blame me or call me names; take it up with the person who said it. Then let me know if you can dismiss their assessments with the same rhetoric as you would mine.

Congressional Budget Office (CBO) letter to Representative Nathan Deal, dated August 7, 2009, responding to a question concerning the effects of proposals to expand governmental support for preventive medical care and wellness services: “Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall...[as the] added costs of widespread use of preventive services tend to exceed the savings from averted illness.” 

CBO letter to Representative Dave Camp, dated August 28, 2009, responding to a request to estimate the change in Medicare Part D premiums that would result from certain provisions contained in H.R. 3200: “CBO expects that the responses of pharmaceutical manufacturers to those three provisions of the legislation would also increase Part D premiums...Overall, CBO average increase in premiums for Part D beneficiaries, above those under current law, of about 5 percent in 2011. That effect would rise over time and reach about 20 percent in 2019.”

CBO report, “Key Issues in Analyzing Major Health Insurance Proposals”, December 2008: “For the same budgetary costs, a refundable tax credit might be more effective at increasing insurance coverage, both because it can be designed to provide a larger benefit to people who have low income than they receive under current law and because those recipients might be more responsive to a given subsidy than are people with higher income...The available evidence indicates that a small share of the population would be reluctant to purchase insurance even if subsidies covered nearly all of the costs... Proposals to require insurers to cover all applicants or to guarantee coverage of preexisting health conditions would benefit people whose health care would not be covered otherwise, but insurers would generally raise premiums to reflect the added costs...Recent studies indicate...that when payment rates change...hospitals shift only a small share of the savings or costs to private insurers (the same logic would apply for uncompensated care). Instead, lower payment rates from public programs or large amounts of uncompensated care may lead hospitals to reduce their costs, possibly by providing care that is less intensive or of lower quality than would have been offered had payments per patient been larger...Proposals that required employers to provide health insurance could adversely affect the hiring of employees earning at or near the minimum wage, because the total compensation of those workers could exceed their value to the firm.” 

CBO letter to Representative Charles Rangel, dated July 17, 2009, analyzing the effects of the America’s Affordable Health Choices Act of 2009 as introduced July 14, 2009: “According to CBO’s and JCT’s assessment, enacting H.R. 3200 would result in a net increase in the federal budget deficit of $239 billion over the 2010-2019 period...That increase would be partially offset by net cost savings of $50 billion and additional revenues of $86 billion, resulting in a net increase in the deficit of an estimated $65 billion...Collectively, those provisions would yield a significant increase in the number of Americans with health insurance. By 2019, CBO and the staff of JCT estimate, the number of nonelderly people without health insurance would be reduced by about 37 million, leaving about 17 million nonelderly residents uninsured.” 

The Congressional Budget Office was established in 1974 in order to offer “objective, nonpartisan, and timely analyses to aid in economic and budgetary decisions on the wide array of programs covered by the federal budget.” It’s currently comprised of over 200 people, including PhDs from the Brookings Institute, Harvard University, M.I.T., Northwestern University, Yale, Stanford, Columbia, the RAND Corporation, the American Enterprise Institute, Dartmouth, and the University of Minnesota (to name a few).  Essentially, this collection of brainiacs was put together to answer just about any question the legislative branch cared to ask, and they do it all without name calling, pettiness, or salacious bickering. Perhaps there’s more that we can learn from them than just economics.

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Volume 5, Issue 18, Posted 10:06 AM, 09.09.2009