Interlude—Medicare muddle no more: The Post’s Matt Miller has been on fire since Romney selected Ryan.
This morning, he offers a deconstruction of our Medicare mess. His headline: “The real Medicare villain.”
We’re sorry to be unpleasant today. But the liberal world, such as it is, has long been too clueless to say this:
MILLER (8/25/12): The beginning of wisdom on Medicare’s future starts with two things both parties say but which can’t simultaneously be true.Duh. As everyone knows, we spend massively more per person on health care than other developed nations. At the same time, we act as if there’s no earthly way to cut back our spending on health care (read, to cut back our Medicare speanding).
The first is that we spend much more on health care than any other advanced nation yet get no better results. The second claim—implicit in the attacks on Obama’s $716 billion in “cuts” or on Romney/Ryan’s heartless vouchers—is that, if we do much to slow the growth of health-care spending, we’d hurt seniors’ access and quality of care.
As I’ve argued before, no matter how often and how loudly interest groups and politicians scream this second claim, it can’t be true if the first claim is a fact. And U.S. health care’s inefficiency is indisputable.
As Miller notes, this simply doesn’t make sense.
As Miller continues, he describes a “progressive catastrophe.” He does make one factual error:
MILLER (continuing directly): The United States spends twice per person on health care what most other advanced nations spend without better outcomes to show for it. As a share of the economy, this now translates to an eye-popping 18 percent of GDP; the next closest nations spend 12 or 13 percent, while the OECD average is in the 8s. Mighty Singapore, with comparable results, spends just 4 percent! And these nations perform better under every model—from single-payer (Canada, England) to mandated private insurance (Switzerland, Holland) to creative public/private hybrids (Singapore).Duh. Within our profligate health care system, every consumer is being looted by powerful interests. The drug manufacturers, the medical device makers—it’s obvious that every player is taking a large extra slice.
These aren’t just dry numbers. They represent a progressive catastrophe. If we could run our health-care system as cost-effectively as other rich nations—which also manage to insure everyone, while we shamefully still leave 50 million people without basic coverage—we’d free up hundreds of billions of dollars each year to pay for infrastructure, R&D, universal preschool, great teachers for poor kids, a mega-earned income tax credit for the working poor, and higher wages (that’s my starter list, at least).
After Republican intransigence, in other words—and even after we eventually raise taxes to help fund the boomers’ retirement—it’s not an exaggeration to say that health-sector inefficiency is the biggest obstacle to progressive goals in America.
This leads to our complaint about Miller. As people constantly do, he understates the extent to which we overpay for health care. On a per person basis, we pay two to three times as much as other developed nations.
Obviously, large sums are being looted.
The liberal world has tolerated this situation for a very long time. In 2009, our nation spent a year pretending to have a discussion of health care. Again and again, we noted the way the major news organs refused to examine that basic question: Why do we spend so much more on health care than other developed nations?
The New York Times took an obvious dive; so did the Washington Post. The NewsHour refused to conduct a discussion of this blindingly obvious question.
When T. R. Reid published his much-discussed book about international health care, he too presented a bogus discussion of our massive over-spending. Where is all our money going? The big news orgs refuse to say. And as this groaning silence persists, the liberal world stares into air.
Be sure to read Miller’s whole column. Truly, he has been on fire since Romney selected Ryan.
That said, has there ever been a dumber people than we modern-day liberals? The historians could probably answer that.
But wouldn’t you know it? They’re on sabbatical! The historians are lounging in France!