Saturday, October 31, 2009

Points of View - October 31

Happy Halloween!

At a time of the year when scary is the norm, as one commentator said yesterday, "What could be scarier than Congress debating our nation's health care reform?" All kidding aside, on to today's points of view.

Health Care

CBO Underestimates Benefits of Malpractice Reform - By Lawrence J. McQuillan - The Wall Street Journal - "Earlier this month, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said medical-liability reforms could save about $11 billion annually. This assessment is a gross underestimate of the potential benefits of reform and was intended to give cover to congressional Democrats who say malpractice-liability costs are trifling. But a full accounting shows the benefits would be a hefty $242 billion a year, more than 10 percent of America's health expenditures."

Back From the Dead - The Economist - "Though you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise, around half of all Americans get their health care courtesy of the government. There is Medicare, which provides for the elderly; Medicaid, which looks after the poorest; and a big federal programme that covers children in most of the country’s worse-off families. To their numbers must be added tens of millions of government employees, from the president and the members of Congress down to teachers, firemen, soldiers and veterans. The actual provision of health services, in hospitals, diagnostic labs and doctors’ surgeries is, with a few exceptions (veterans have a NHS-like network of their own), carried out by the private sector. But the government pays the bills."

Notable & Quotable - By Robert Reich - The Wall Street Journal - "While health reform, if done right, can help American families stay afloat in the economy, most Americans will not see any appreciable decline in the cost of health insurance nor clear improvement in the efficiency or quality of the health care they receive, and those who will benefit from the bill won't see it for several years. That's partly a result of Obama's sharpest break from Clinton—whose ambitious plan drew immediate fire from Big Pharma, the American Medical Association, and health insurers: The Obama White House bought off the medical-industrial complex by promising it fatter profits, bolstered by tens of millions of new paying customers."

Financial Reform

Another Misstep on the Road to Reform - The New York Times - "Draft legislation to regulate too-big-to-fail financial firms hit a wall of well-deserved dissent at a hearing on Thursday in the House Financial Services Committee."


Postal Services: Sort It Out - The Economist - "With technology undermining the old monopolies that postal services used to enjoy, the obvious answer is to privatise them and let them sink or swim. But the post is not just another business knocked sideways by the internet. Post offices unite communities and the postal service connects remote regions to the centre, so voters are uncomfortable with radical change."

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