Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Life-and-Death Games

The health-care finals start in Washington today with the Obama home team hosting the all-stars who have made the American medical system one of the most expensive and least effective in the world.

The name of the game is cooperation as insurers, drug makers, hospitals et al come to the White House reportedly to announce "a voluntary plan to hold costs down, which health care industry officials involved in the effort say could save a family of four $2,500 a year in the fifth year, and a total of $2 trillion for the nation over 10 years. But there is no way of ensuring that the providers keep their promises, beyond publicizing their performance."

As a basketball fan, the President should recognize a fakeout when he sees one but, just in case, Paul Krugman has a head's up for him:

"What’s presumably going on here is that key interest groups have realized that health care reform is going to happen no matter what they do, and that aligning themselves with the Party of No will just deny them a seat at the table. (Republicans, after all, still denounce research into which medical procedures are effective and which are not as a dastardly plot to deprive Americans of their freedom to choose.)"

Behind all the trash talk this week will be the crucial contest over whether Congress will enact health-care reform that includes a government-sponsored option (Medicare-for-all) to give consumers a chance to buy care directly and pressure private insurers to improve what they offer.

Without that, they're just playing the same old games.

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