Focus on Health

Focus on Health

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On March 22, the Deloitte Center for Health Solutions published a report on hidden health costs that are not included in aggregate data on health expenditures. These include things such as ambulance services, nursing homes, and substance abuse clinics. Inclusion of these costs adds another $363 billion to national health care expenditures.

A March 21 Gallup poll found declining support for health reform.

Also on March 21, the Milbank Quarterly published an article by economist Austin Frakt on the extent to which hospitals shift unreimbursed costs for government programs such as Medicare onto patients with private insurance. It finds that the extent of cost-shifting tends to be exaggerated.

A March 17 report from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities examined the Ryan-Rivlin plan for replacing Medicare’s fee-for-service system with a voucher plan. It is skeptical that huge savings can be achieved because health costs in general are growing faster than the economy.

On March 16, the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing on health reform after one year.

Also on March 16, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report on the denial of health insurance by private insurers. Rates varied considerably from one company to another.

On March 16, the Commonwealth Fund published its latest biennial report on health insurance. It finds that 52 million adults were without insurance at some point in 2010, and that the Affordable Care Act will give them all coverage once fully implemented. A related report examined these issues in more detail.

And on March 16, law professors Jeffrey Kahn and Douglas Kahn posted a paper discussing the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act. They view it as essentially a form of income redistribution.

On March 14, the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report on the rising cost of prescription drugs. It notes that in 2009 the federal government spent $78 billion on such drugs, 31 percent of all drug spending.

I last posted items on this topic on March 14.

Bruce Bartlett is an American historian and columnist who focuses on the intersection between politics and economics. He blogs daily and writes a weekly column at The Fiscal Times. Bartlett has written for Forbes Magazine and Creators Syndicate, and his work is informed by many years in government, including as a senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House. He is the author of seven books including the New York Times best-seller, Imposter: How George W. Bush Bankrupted America and Betrayed the Reagan Legacy (Doubleday, 2006).

Bruce Bartlett’s columns focus on the intersection of politics and economics. The author of seven books, he worked in government for many years and was senior policy analyst in the Reagan White House.