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Archive for January, 2014
Price Transparency: What To Do and What Not To Do

I’ve written about sky-high hospital prices in this blog, especially for uninsured patients who present at emergency rooms. A related issue is price transparency. In most normal transactions, it is not hard to discover the price you will pay for a good or service. Indeed, for most ordinary items, prices are posted and we…
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Medicare Advantage

Uwe Reinhardt had a column the other day in which he argued that: We are paying Medicare Advantage plans more than we pay for similar patients in traditional Medicare. Enrollees in traditional Medicare are paying higher Part B premiums in order to subsidize the higher MA payments. This is bad public policy; we should…
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Why Global Poverty Has Declined 80%: Economic Liberalization Begets Prosperity and Equality

50 years after LBJ declared a “War on Poverty,” the U.S. would do well to take a page from the global playbook—whereby economic liberalization and more open trade has resulted in an 80% decline in abject poverty since 1976. The graphs below, taken from the National Bureau of Economic Research Working Paper, “Parametric Estimations…
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Least Surprising Health Research Result Ever: Medicaid Increases ER Use

Medicaid is a welfare program jointly funded by federal and state governments, which claims to provide health insurance to low-income people. A few years ago, Oregon expanded Medicaid enrollment by lottery. This created an excellent environment to study the effects of being uninsured versus being enrolled in Medicaid, because it approximated a randomized-controlled trial —…
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Retiring Teacher Seniority in California?

California is legendary for its protection of unionized teachers. But if a new measure makes it onto the November ballot, voters would decide whether California teachers would have to bank on more than seniority to keep their jobs. Matt David of StudentsFirst submitted the measure to the Secretary of State last month, where it’s awaiting…
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Judge the Pope’s Exhortation by Results, Not Rhetoric

Pope Francis recently urged all people to have greater compassion for the poor. And to his credit he emphasized the moral imperative of helping to reduce poverty around the world. Unfortunately, the approach advocated by Francis would result in more human suffering, not less. In his strongly worded apostolic exhortation “Evangelii gaudium” or “The…
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Extortion, Part II

I recently discussed Peter Schweizer’s book, Extortion: How Politicians Extract Your Money, Buy Votes, and Line Their Own Pockets.  I want to mention one example from Schweizer’s book, to give a better idea of how this extortion occurs. The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA), passed in 1977, prohibits US companies from bribing foreign government…
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Contraceptives for Nuns? Government at Its Most Absurd

How absurd can a law be, to force nuns (who have taken vows of both poverty and celibacy) to explain to the state why they don’t want to pay for contraception? That requirement was too much for Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor, who issued a temporary injunction against Obamacare’s mandate that health plans…
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Medicaid Expansion Means More ER Visits

A number of years ago, Governor Romney told me that under Massachusetts health reform people would go to physicians’ offices for care instead of going to the emergency room. He wasn’t saying that Massachusetts would deliver more care. He was saying that the care would be more appropriate and less expensive. As it turns…
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A Review of D. Eric Schansberg’s “The Economics of Health Care and Health Insurance”

The notion that everyone must have health insurance to acquire medical care has reached such a level of obsession that it almost deserves its own entry in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the guidebook for mental illness that has grown so bloated with diagnoses that even the National Institute of Mental…
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