Thursday, December 31, 2009

Homer Hewitt Happy New Year to all ! Glad to leave decade. Worst event: 9-11 (2nd worst: 2000 election) Best event: Obama election.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009


To help pay for health care reforms, the House voted for a surtax on very high incomes, such as those over $500,000. Sounds like a good idea, since affordable and a step toward fixing the huge inequality in US annual incomes. The Senate rejected this idea, opting instead to tax very expensive health care insurance plans.

As Bob Herbert of the NY Times, points out, the Senate plan hurts many in the middle class. This is supposed to produce savings of $150 billion over 10 years. Herbert notes "According to the Joint Committee on Taxation, less than 18 percent of the revenue will come from the tax itself. The rest of the $150 billion, more than 82 percent of it, will come from the income taxes paid by workers who have been given pay raises by employers who will have voluntarily handed over the money they saved by offering their employees less valuable health insurance plans." Lots of luck counting on this.

The main effort to combat the rising cost of health care is through the insurance companies. Squeeze the insurers and they'll squeeze costs out of medical providers. How has that worked so far? It's beside the point but health insurance is an anomaly; sort of insuring to pay for food.

We don't hear much about computerizing all health records, or other cost saving measures. Or sometimes the savings are supposed to come from patient decisions: declining tests, selecting lower cost providers. But patients don't work this way. It's difficult to shop for doctors or hospitals. And when your doctor recommends a test,you don't disagree.

Making insurers compete (the public option, removing anti-trust exemption) would of course help the insurance purchaser. But more is needed, negotiated drug prices,
importation of drugs, pushing best medical practice, fostering hospital competition with less duplication, supporting clinics that and medical groups that compete with doctor services. In many ways, try to wring the high prices,excessive costs, and high profits. out of the system.

Good health care is a right for every citizen. It behooves our government to take the actions necessary to meet this goal.