Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Washington Stuck fighting bad health care battle

While the "experts" of Washington continue to discuss health policy, positive change is happening outside the Beltway.

Last week, the Altarum Institute, a research organization based in Ann Arbor, Michigan, reported that moderation in the growth of health care costs that we have seen in recent years continues, the total expenditure on health increased less than 4 percent from February 2011 to February 2012. It is encouraging to see the progress that doctors, hospitals and other providers are doing to improve the value of care - by reducing red tape, for example, expanding the use of information technology, and the change of service fee compensation programs aimed at maximizing the quality of treatment.

Instead of examining these changes and find ways to encourage political debate in Washington continues to demonstrate its ability to, well, it is unclear exactly what he does. The most foolish bloviating recently came from Charles Blahous, a researcher at George Mason University in Arlington, Virginia, and a former officer of the George W. Bush White House. He claims to have shown that the 2010 health care reform bill will substantially increase the budget deficit, despite official estimates in the opposite direction. The Washington Post decided this guaranteed coverage prominent.

What really did was play a trick Blahous. His analysis begins with the observation that the Medicare Part A which covers hospital care, you may not make benefit payments in excess of incoming revenues once its trust fund is exhausted. Therefore, the law states that health reform is better compared to a world where the cost of benefits beyond simply incoming revenues are cut after the date of exhaustion of the trust fund. It then argues that since the health reform law extends the life of the trust fund, which enables more Medicare benefits payable in the future. Presto, the law increases the deficit by increasing Medicare benefits.