President Trump’s Strange Medicine for Healthcare
The prospects are looking dimmer for the Senate to adopt a repeal of Obamacare. Lawmakers are returning from a two week recess under pressure to take up the House-passed ACHA. Congressional leaders have praised the bill but public response has been mixed. Conservatives complain the measure leaves too much of Obamacare’s structure in place, while liberals complain it removes critical safeguards for the poor and vulnerable.
President Trump waded into the controversy with a cryptic tweet: “I suggest that we add more dollars to Healthcare and make it the best anywhere. ObamaCare is dead – the Republicans will do much better!” This is puzzling. America spends more per capita on healthcare than any other nation. A study by the Commonwealth Fund reports:
The U.S. spent more per person on health care than 12 other high-income nations in 2013, while seeing the lowest life expectancy and some of the worst health outcomes among this group, according to a Commonwealth Fund report out today. The analysis shows that in the U.S., which spent an average of $9,086 per person annually, life expectancy was 78.8 years. Switzerland, the second-highest-spending country, spent $6,325 per person and had a life expectancy of 82.9 years. Mortality rates for cancer were among the lowest in the U.S., but rates of chronic conditions, obesity, and infant mortality were higher than those abroad.
Whichever direction healthcare policy goes, it is not a reasonable premise that the system needs more dollars. If conservatives win the day and push delivery of health more toward a market system, it is hoped that will create competitive forces and efficiency that reduce medical costs, not increase them. Conversely, if liberals gain power and increase government administration of health care, it should be with an intent to allocate efficiently and hold costs down. In either case, “lets spend more on healthcare” is not a reasonable starting point for the discussion of reform.