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Monthly Archives: December 2010
I know these things. Many of you who’ve taken a course in health economics, read the newspaper, or lived long enough know these things. But, alas, a shocking number of people still don’t know these things. What things, you ask? Well, all the things that make health care markets work differently than markets for traditional goods and services. You need to learn about these things, because if you don’t, you’ll likely continue to think that a free market system will solve all of the problems with our health care system, but you’ll also continue to be wrong. So, hopefully you’re asking “Where can I learn about these things?” and the answer is right here.
It’s no surprise that there’s a renewed call for repeal of health reform in the wake of the mid-term elections and the anticipation of a Republican-controlled House in 2011. What is a surprise is where the American Medical Association stands on the issue. Well, sort of. (I’ll explain.) You may already have seen this, but even if so, I think it’s worth taking a look at in a bit more detail.
The news, as reported in this Health Affairs blog post, is that the AMA voted to rescind its support of the individual mandate–that pesky requirement that everyone obtain insurance coverage–which it had previously backed. From an historical perspective, that isn’t really the shocker. No, the shocker was when the AMA endorsed the health reform legislation. In fact, I’ve heard plenty of people talk about how important neutralizing that group–if not rallying its support–was to the eventual passage of the legislation.
But not so fast. The AMA vote was overridden by another vote to postpone the issue until the annual meeting in June. That’s sure to give both sides time to formulate a strategy. And that’s what’s so interesting: There are two pretty evenly split groups within the AMA. Could this issue be controversial enough to split the AMA into two opposing lobbies? I highly doubt it. The AMA’s strength lies in the number of physicians it represents. But what it may do is make the AMA start to look a lot like the highly partisan Congress, and if that happens, it may not be the AMA lobbying Congress, but members of Congress appealing to members of the AMA in a bit of “reverse lobbying.”
After all, the AMA has played an important role over the years in determining the fate of various health reform initiatives. So, when Speaker Boehner picks up the gavel, you can rest assured that he and the rest of the GOP will be pulling for the AMA to rescind its endorsement–what a huge PR move in support of repeal–and you can also rest assured that the Democrats who championed the law will be working hard behind the scenes to make sure that the AMA keeps its word.
Today is my 30th birthday. It’s also getting really close to Christmas. Many of you who read this blog know me quite well. Others of you are regular readers, but complete strangers to me. Still others have happened to this space today for the first time, seemingly by accident. I’d like to suggest to all of you that you do something generous today in honor of me. I realize that that sounds a bit arrogant, but I’m actually hoping that it will result in something quite selfless. The fact is, I don’t need anything, so the best gift you could give me–and yourself–would be to do something good for someone else.
You might make a contribution to a charity of your choice. It could take the form of a cash donation or an in-kind gift. You might just take some items down to your local Goodwill store. Maybe you could spend a day in service at a soup kitchen, or go through the drive-thru at McDonald’s and pay for your order AND the order of the car behind you. Pay for someone else’s (or several someone else’s) coffee at Starbucks. Give a dollar (or ten) to someone begging for change. Tell your spouse how much you love them. Spend some extra time with your kids. Hold the door open for someone. Let a car into traffic in front of you. Smile at others. Ask someone how their day is going and sincerely listen to their answer.
If this sounds a little goofy, maybe it’s because we’ve gotten to a place where this type of kindness and generosity has become so foreign as to feel uncomfortable. Where we’re worried how others will react, or what they’ll think of us. It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, it can be far, far better. The point is, do a good thing today. And, then, as your gift to me, leave a comment to this post letting everyone know what good thing(s) you did. Feel free to remain anonymous. It’s not a contest, just a thought I had to make the passing of my twenties more meaningful by brightening up the world a little bit. I hope you’ll do more than consider it.
Slate Labs does it again–this time looking at the rise and spread of diabetes rates in the United States over the 2004 to 2008 period. It is, how do you say, alarming. Check it out. (And sorry, southeastern United States and Appalachia.)
A federal judge in Virginia ruled Monday that parts of the health reform law–specifically its requirement that individuals purchase coverage or pay a penalty–are unconstitutional. CNN, among other news outlets, has the story here. If you want the flaming liberal version, it’s here. And, for you freedom loving haters of social justice, head here. If you’re the kind who likes to go straight to the source, you can read the judge’s ruling here. Since I know how much you like to hear my opinion on things, here it is:
If this had been a best-of-three series, this latest case would never have been heard. That said, it’s now 2-1 in favor of the law, with the multi-state challenge still pending in Florida. Contrary to what you might expect, I don’t actually put much stock in either the two cases (one in Michigan, one in Virginia) to support the law, or the single case thus far to rule against parts of the law. I stand by my earlier remarks that judges are not apolitical beings. The rulings to date have borne this out. Monday’s case is important only because it shows that there is support from judges on both sides of this issue–and that is the prerequisite for this case making its way to the Supreme Court. How things will play out there is anyone’s guess–and mostly Justice Kennedy’s choice.
As to other more timely and important consequences of Monday’s ruling, it does nothing to impede the current implementation of the law, which it could have. So, that’s good. Still, this fight is far from over.