A Supreme Court Error

No, I’m not talking about the Court’s cowardice on gun rights. This one concerns the Court’s nearly unanimous decision regarding any Congress’ ability to undo what a prior Congress has done and the Executive Branch’s obligation to spend money that hasn’t been appropriated.

The Court upheld health coverage providers’ demand, under Maine Community Health Options v US for

payments to health insurers for so-called risk corridors in ObamaCare’s first three years[.]

Never mind that the 112th Congress, in 2010, undid what the prior 111th Congress had done and both refused to appropriate funds for those “risk corridors” and explicitly forbade the Executive Branch from making any risk corridor payments from other funds.

Drug Approvals

Dr Henry Miller, ex of the FDA where he founded the agency’s Office of Biotechnology, had some thoughts on how to speed up vaccine approval procedures in his Wednesday op-ed. They’re good ideas; although many of them only niggle around the edges of a long-ish procedure.

I have an additional idea.

Allow doctors to broadly prescribe the vaccine—or any drug—once it’s been shown to be safe. Such drugs should be clearly marked, and the patient clearly advised, that while the vaccine has been shown to be safe, it hasn’t been shown to be effective.

Medicare for All

Simon Johnson, of the MIT Sloan School of Management and an “informal” advisor to Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Elizabeth Warren’s (D, MA) presidential campaign, thinks her Medicare for All scheme is the cat’s meow.  It would, he claims

cut costs by reducing inefficiency, eliminating predatory pricing (for example, for prescription drugs) and using the purchasing power of a single-payer system. Her plan would also constrain the growth rate of underlying medical costs.

Obamacare Premiums

Stephanie Armour noted that Obamacare premiums are expected to be lower in 2020 than they are this year, and she wondered whether that means Obamacare is working, or if there remain problems to be fixed.

The drop doesn’t address the core problem with Obamacare: it’s a government welfare program that mandates coverages at prices independent of the risk being transferred.

Falling premiums? They’re still much too high, as are deductibles (which Armour completely omitted from her article), especially when compared to what would be the case in a free market, and they’re for coverages that aren’t, generally, needed, to boot.

Racism in School Admissions

Federal District Judge Allison Burroughs, of the Massachusetts District, has ruled in a Harvard admissions case that racism in its admissions process is entirely jake.

Race conscious admissions will always penalize to some extent the groups that are not being advantaged by the process, but this is justified by the compelling interest in diversity and all the benefits that flow from a diverse college population.

With that, Burroughs has exposed her own racist bent.  Her “justification” is just her cynical rationalization of her racism. It stinks.

Only Part of the Story

New Hampshire publishes on a State Web site the prices charged by hospitals in the State, and President Donald Trump is working up an Executive Order that would, with some differences in breadth (including information on the prices negotiated with insurers), make the practice a nationwide one.

Price transparency is a Critical Item in controlling—bringing down—the cost of health care, but it’s only part of the story.  A measure of cost transparency would be useful, too, not only for the consumer, but for governments as they look for (non-subsidy, non-tax) ways to further price competition.

Surprise Medical Billing

The Wall Street Journal recounted one such example and a (partial, I say) solution in Benedic Ippolito’s (of the American Enterprise Institute) Tuesday op-ed.

The example was a man with a broken jaw who was transported, unconscious, to a hospital ER for treatment.  The hospital turned out to be in his medical insurance network, but the treating surgeon turned out not to be.  The latter’s bill was for $8,000, which the insurer refused to pay.  The man was unaware of that fee until after the treatment had been effected.

Medicare for All

Senator and Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders (I [sic], VT) has the canonical version of Medicare for All; the other Progressive-Democrat candidates have only slightly varied versions of it.  Here’s Sanders on his Next Big Idea for health care provision and health care coverage:

You will have a card which has Medicare on it, you’ll go to any doctor that you want, you’ll go to any hospital that you want.

Right.  Been there, done that.  Both claims were straight up lies then, too.  There is a major difference, though, between Sanders’ two lies and ex-President Barack Obama’s (D) two lies: Sanders would make private insurance illegal—both the selling and the possessing.  That, though, only potentiates the power of Sanders’ lies.

Yet Another Veterans Administration Failure

Here is another failure of the VA to take care of our veterans as they are charged to do, and as the VA’s motto promises they’ll do.  Here is another casual dishonor of that promise [emphasis added].

More than 1,000 Department of Veterans Affairs patients in Kansas didn’t get proper follow-up care after initial colonoscopies last year, a problem that was addressed only after a whistleblower repeatedly reported it, according to a government watchdog.
The watchdog found patients didn’t get follow-up screenings on time and when they did, often didn’t get the results in a timely manner because of [a string of excuses].

A Thought on Medicare for All

University of Massachusetts-Amherst Economics Professor and Co-Director of the Political Economy Research Institute, Robert Pollin, had a thought on this.

Of course, so do I.

Pollin opened his tract with this:

All Americans would be able to get care from their chosen providers without having to pay premiums, deductibles or copayments.

No, we’ve already seen the lie in this. We experienced the broken, falsely presented promise with the sales job on Obamacare and the oft-repeated lie that if we liked our doctor, we could keep him and the associated lie of lower premiums.