Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Medical... Costs will go UP, not down. plus "Voting Rights Act Upheld… Sort Of "

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Subject: Politics Alabama

Voting Rights Act Upheld… Sort Of

Posted: 23 Jun 2009 10:00 AM PDT

I don’t know if anybody else has been following this, but the Supreme Court made an interesting decision on Monday. I’ll give the background and then the decision.

Much of the South is covered under the “Voting Rights Act of 1965”, which requires that any changes to election law or districts be approved by the Feds prior to implementation, because of a history of racial discrimination in the past. Alabama is one of those states.

Recently, that law was challenged by “officials from a water district near Austin, Texas, who said they should not have to ask for permission from Washington for switching a polling place from a house to a public school.”

The case wound up in the Supreme Court, who ruled on Monday that the Voting Rights Act would remain intact. Though they didn’t invalidate the Act, they DID create a way for cities to be removed from it by “going to court and showing it had not violated any provision of the Voting Rights Act for a decade.”

Well, that’s a LITTLE better, since now cities CAN get out from under the thumb of the Fed. But the process described by the Justices is time-consuming and expensive, and I would have hoped for a better fix.

Still, from some of the comments made by the Justices, the next such case that lands in front of of the Supremes may receive an entirely different reaction.

Personally, I’d like to see the law disbanded entirely.

Obama Wants To Cut Health Care Costs? Really?

Posted: 23 Jun 2009 05:45 AM PDT

As you know, PresBo says he wants to cut health care costs, and the way he wants to do it is by creating a “public option” for health insurance. This means a government-run insurance company that competes with privately-run companies. This is how PresBo wants to bring down health care costs.

Will it work? CAN it work? Well, if history and previous precedent mean anything, then no, it cannot and will not work.

Let’s look at Medicare for an example of how a government-run health care program has reduced costs over time. Another reason to use Medicare as an example is that, according to Tom Daschle, the new program will be “modeled after” Medicare.

A new study published by the Pacific Research Institute…takes all health-care spending in the United States and subtracts the costs of the two flagship government-run programs, Medicare and Medicaid. It then takes that remaining spending and compares its cost increases over time with Medicare's cost increases over time.

And the results? Did Medicare costs increase more slowly than private insurance? Well, no, not exactly.

The results are clear: Since 1970 — even without the prescription drug benefit — Medicare's costs have risen 34% more, per patient, than the combined costs of all health care in America apart from Medicare and Medicaid, the vast majority of which is purchased through the private sector.

Since 1970, the per-patient costs of all health care apart from Medicare and Medicaid have risen from $364 to $7,119, while Medicare's per-patient costs have risen from $368 to $9,634. Medicare's costs have risen $2,511 more per patient.

Okay, you say, maybe the study made assumptions that made this outcome likely? Nope. If anything, the reverse is true.

These conclusions are true despite very generous treatment of Medicare. My study counts Medicare's prescription drug expenditures as part of privately purchased care, rather than as part of Medicare. It counts health care purchased privately by Medicare and Medicaid beneficiaries (including Medicare copayments and Medigap insurance) among the costs of private care, without counting its recipients among those receiving private care — thereby magnifying private care's per-person costs. And it doesn't adjust for cost-shifting from Medicare to private entities.

What about other studies showing the reverse?

The New York Times and others have quoted studies claiming that private insurance has failed to contain costs as well as Medicare. Such studies are deeply misleading, for they omit any consideration of out-of-pocket spending, thereby neglecting a major shift in the private health care market.

So the bottom line is that creating a government-run insurance option patterned after Medicare will cause health care costs to increase faster than they would have with only private insurance. Costs will go UP, not down.

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