Posts Tagged ‘New York Times’

David Brooks: “Buckle Up for Round 2”

Monday, January 24th, 2011

“The healthcare reform law was signed 10 months ago, and what’s striking now is how vulnerable it looks,” writes columnist David Brooks in the New York Times. “Several threats have emerged – some of them scarcely discussed before passage – that together or alone could seriously endanger the new system.”  According to Brooks, the threats include:

The courts.  “So far, one judge has struck down the individual mandate, the plan’s centerpiece.  Future decisions are likely to break down on partisan lines.  Given the makeup of the Supreme Court, this should concern the law’s defenders,” according to Brooks.

False projections.  Brooks notes that “The new system is based on a series of expert projections on how people will behave.  In the first test case, these projections were absurdly off base.  According to the Medicare actuary, 375,000 people should have already signed up for the new high-risk pools for the uninsured, but only 8,000 have.”

Employee dumping.  Brooks sees this as the potentially most serious threat.  “Companies and unions across America are running the numbers and discovering they would be better off if, after 2014, they induced poorer and sicker employees to move to public insurance exchanges, where the subsidies are much higher,” Brooks said.

Healthcare oligarchy:  Since the March passage of the healthcare law, “there has been a frenzy of mergers and acquisitions, as hospitals, clinics and doctor groups have joined together into bigger and bigger entities,” according to Brooks.  “The downside to this economic concentration is that there could be less competition and cost control.”

Public hostility.  “Complaints are especially high among doctors.  According to a survey by the Physicians Foundation, 60 percent of private-practice doctors say the law will force them to close their practices or to restrict them to certain categories of patients,” Brooks wrote.

“After the trauma of the last two years, many people wish the issue would go away.  But it’s not going away, especially since costs will continue to rise,” Brooks concludes.  “Some Congresses achieve healthcare; members of this Congress or the next one will have healthcare thrust upon them.”

Lie of the Year: Reform Equals a Government Takeover of Healthcare

Tuesday, December 28th, 2010

The most egregious lie of the year, according to PolitiFact.com, is the suggestion that President Barack Obama’s landmark healthcare reform law is a “government takeover of healthcare.” This is the opinion of PolitiFact.com,  the St. Petersburg Times’ independent fact-checking website.  In early 2009, Republican strategist Frank Luntz urged GOP legislators to call the bill a “government takeover.”  According to Luntz, “Takeovers are like coups.  They both lead to dictators and a loss of freedom.”  PolitiFact’s runner-up lie was Representative Michele Bachmann’s (R-MN) statement that President Obama’s trip to India would cost taxpayer $200 million a day.

Jonathan Oberlander, a health policy professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, said “The label ‘government takeover’ has no basis in reality, but instead reflects a political dynamic where conservatives label any increase in government authority in healthcare as a ‘takeover’.”  Although the new law increases government oversight of health insurance companies, it relies on private companies and the free market.

Others are in agreement with PolitiFact’s stance.  The online magazine Slate said “the proposed healthcare reform does not take over the system in any sense.”  Princeton University professor Uwe Reinhardt, a healthcare economics expert, wrote in the New York Times that “Yes, there would be a substantial government-mandated reorganization of this relatively small corner of the private health insurance market (that serves people who have been buying individual policies).  But that hardly constitutes a government takeover of American healthcare.”

When a spokesman for incoming Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was asked about Republicans’ insistence on using the phrase – even now that it’s been thoroughly debunked – the response was “We believe that the job-killing ObamaCare law will result in a government takeover of healthcare.  That’s why we have pledged to repeal it, and replace it with common-sense reforms that actually lower costs.”