Remind me why we pay these guys a salary

House passes sweeping health care reform bill that will cover 95% of all Americans but neglects to discuss how much it would cost or how it would be paid for. Why don’t the pass laws ending poverty and establishing peace in the Middle East while they’re at it?

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4 responses to “Remind me why we pay these guys a salary

  1. lorin

    personally, I think they should outlaw sickness and death.

  2. InfoDiva

    Chris, it will be paid for the same way that health care is paid for in just about every other advanced society on earth (except ours): by your tax dollars, and mine.

    The health care system in the United States is broken, Chris, and while I don’t want to get personal, the lack of health insurance you admitted to not long ago is a prime example of that.

    Yes, yes, I know you want to be left bleeding by the side of the road…but in your heart you know that won’t possibly happen, so you’re able to sleep at night even though you’re uninsured.

    I realize that we’re on different sides of the political spectrum, but I respect your intelligence, and I look forward to hearing your thoughts. Just how should the health care system operate from your Libertarian point of view?

    • christopherfountain

      Well, Info, just as a top of the head approach, I’d start by taxing health insurance benefits as income. Why should someone who doesn’t get insurance from his employer have to buy it with after-tax dollars, as I do, and those who do receive it tax free? If consumers are paying for something themselves, they’ll pay more attention to cost.
      Second, eliminate waste from the system and figure out how to do that by starting on medicare to see what works and what doesn’t. We’ve never succeeded in cutting waste from that program, although it’s acknowledged that waste exists. So far, every attempt to reform it has been stymied by AARP and other pressure groups. If we can’t do it with Medicare, let’s not expand the system by pretending we’re going to cut costs later.
      Could that be done? In theory. Have you seen the studies, reported in places like the NYT, that show that Medicare pays 1/3 less for patients in Minnesota than in Florida yet the northern patients are healthier? The primary difference seems to be that in Florida, visting doctors – often two or three – is viewed as an interesting way to pass the day. When Congress passed a law mandating a $10 fee for doctors visits it was estimated that it would save billions and billions of dollars – not from the crummy ten bucks it picked up but because people would think twice before digging in their pocket for a sawbuck. Especially when the early bird movie matinee only charges $3. That law was passed, Congress recessed for the summer and the outcry from AARP was so loud and so furious that the politicians rushed back to Washington, reconvened, and repealled it.
      There are many more cuts to be made along these lines – tort law reform, fraudulent medical equipment sales companies (“As seen on TV” ) and so on, but so far, neither party, republican or democrat, has shown the backbone to stand up to them. Until they do, we have no hope of reining in costs. If they do, there’s a chance that private insurance could become affordable. Anyway, i think the politicians have to show they can control costs. What they’re doing instead is proposing a massive increase in service and promising to address costs later. My primitive understanding of economics tells me that when something is given away free, demand goes up. So let’s focus on cost and, when that’s successful, talk about providing still more coverage.

  3. Peg

    My take on health care from the dad of a bridge girlfriend of mine…

    http://moot.typepad.com/what_if/2009/06/the-little-giant.html