Sunday, September 05, 2004

Bush is unwilling to take on escalating health care costs and in many ways is playing a direct role in their escalation (see Medicare bill boondoggle). By all accounts, the lack of robust hiring in this so-called economic recovery can in large part be blamed on high health care costs. Many employers are on record stating their reluctance to take on new workers given the high cost of health care benefits. And a good deal of the hiring that is occurring, when the data is looked at more closely, is actually part time workers and other forms of employment that allow employers to safely escape the offering of benefits. Exclude this form of hiring and the unemployment figure goes way up.

Therefore, if Bush truly cared about doing something that could meaningfully improve the job market, he would pledge to do whatever it takes to get these costs under control, but of course he doesn't because he's in the pocket of all the huge health care corporations. Kerry has already spoken out on this problem, but I don't recall many people listening.

Meanwhile, the Angry Bear presents a very good explanation of how Bush's proposed solution is so ridiculously anemic it's laughable. His solution: medical liability reform -- of course! It's the lawyers to blame! But as the Bear points out,

If tort reform had been passed earlier this year, and every dollar saved from reduced malpractice suits was passed on to consumers, then the effect on the country's health care bill would (with luck) have been to reduce it from perhaps $1,670bn in 2004 all the way down to $1,663bn. Instead of a 7.2% increase in health care costs, we would have been faced with a 6.8% increase in health care costs this year.
Such figures suggest that tort reform would effectively do absolutely nothing to reduce health care costs in this country.
In a nutshell, medical liability tort reform is a red herring. Malpractice lawsuits have an insignificant impact on the nation's overall health care spending, and curbing them will do virtually nothing to change the cost of health care in this country. Bush has no interest in policies that would have a real impact on health care costs. His solution is no solution.

Again, this growing problem is severe and significant. It's obviously a reason jobs are being outsourced out of the country, but you'll never hear this administration mention THAT fact. It continues to remain one fat, giant, insidious secret.

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