Trees and Forests

It’s Commonly Accepted Fact that entitlement spending will tank the budget, and that “projections show that Medicare spending is on track to severely deplete the federal budget.” This might be true, but it misses the point. The below graph, which Ezra Klein loves to post, shows that while  Medicare and Medicaid spending will increase, it is actually significantly outpaced by the “other health care spending” whose right to strain the economy Republicans so adamantly defend.

Anyway, the context of the previous link was an article in the Wall Street Journal reporting on drug makers’ opposition to a stimulus provision funding comparative effectiveness research for drugs and medical devices. You know, the sort of nefarious encroachment of Big Brother that would tamp spending on treatments that don’t work (it is your right to get fleeced!). The article reports Barack Obama will be looking for ways to stave off the looming “entitlements crisis,” but as this graph clearly illustrates, you won’t permanently stem entitlements by cutting benefits or costs without reforming the health care delivery system to account for massively wasteful spending. You might succeed in temporarily minimizing costs, but without comprehensive overhaul, entitlements will return with a vengeance as people who have been shut out of care place a strain on the system. \

Of course, legislation in the United States rarely reflects sound logic and reasoning, so don’t hold your breath for the day when we stop paying for useless and expensive treatments.


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