The Spectacle Blog

Palin was not Wrong, Part Two

By on 8.22.09 | 9:50AM

Martin Feldstein, former chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers under President Ronald Reagan, wrote in the Wall Street Journal that, “ObamaCare is all about rationing.”

He says, “The White House Council of Economic Advisers issued a report in June explaining the Obama administration's goal of reducing projected health spending by 30% over the next two decades. That reduction would be achieved by eliminating "high cost, low-value treatments," by "implementing a set of performance measures that all providers would adopt," and by "directly targeting individual providers . . . (and other) high-end outliers." In other words, using a British-style NICE board to determine what services are cost effective, and disallow those that are not.

Now, you can be for this or against this, but it is disingenuous to argue that Palin was completely wrong in warning about this cost-based rationing. What kind of democratic process is it that asks the American people to accept this approach, while pretending this is not what the administration is trying to do?

Americans may decide that such rationing is worthwhile, but they should not be fooled into thinking it is the only way to control costs. Mr. Feldstein points out one alternative. He writes, “The rising cost of medical treatments would not be such a large burden on future budgets if the government reduced its share in the financing of health services. Raising the existing Medicare and Medicaid deductibles and coinsurance would slow the growth of these programs without resorting to rationing. Physicians and their patients would continue to decide which tests and other services they believe are worth the cost.”

If the people were allowed to vote on which approach they would prefer, I wonder which would win?

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