Hospitals are charging Medicare vastly different prices for the same procedure--in some cases 10 to 20 times what the government program would typically reimburse, according to government data released this morning.
This is the first time the government has publicly released data showing how much hospitals charge for the most common inpatient procedures, a response to a Time magazine investigation by Steven Brill. In the release from the Health and Human Services, it was reported that the list price for joint replacement surgery in Ada, Oklahoma, is $5,304. Meanwhile, the same procedure cost up to $223,373 in Monterey, Calif. The newly public data shows that hospital prices for medical treatment seems to have little relationship to basic market mechanisms. - Read more at The New York Times
AMERICANS ARE BORROWING AGAIN “America's credit crunch is easing. For the past six years, consumers and businesses have struggled to borrow money, but slowly, things are getting easier,” The Wall Street Journal’s Neil Shah writes. “In all, some $713 billion in credit flowed to U.S. households and nonfinancial businesses last year, double 2011's $336 billion, according to the Fed… According to the Fed's survey of senior bank-lending officers released Monday, 28 percent of banks lowered the cost of credit lines early this year to smaller firms…that have annual sales of less than $50 million. Residential lending began edging up last year, and even people with bad credit can get a loan to buy a car these days.” - Read more at The Wall Street Journal
DEBT DEAL? DON’T COUNT ON IT WITH THESE GUYS “On Tuesday, five of Washington’s biggest budget players appeared on stage in Washington to offer their takes on the nation’s finances. But in a telling sign of just how far apart President Obama and congressional Republicans are, each of them appeared alone. They answered questions individually and never shared the spotlight at ‘The Fiscal Summit’ sponsored by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation,” The Fiscal Times’ Eric Pianin writes. “With the prospects of yet another showdown over the debt ceiling looming, the White House, Senate Democrats and Republican House leaders couldn’t be further from a major budget deal.” - Read more at The Fiscal Times
DOES HOMEOWNERSHIP LEAD TO UNEMPLOYMENT? A new working paper by British economist Andrew Oswald, of the University of Warwick and Dartmouth’s David G. Blanchflower suggest that an increase in homeownership in a state is a precursor to eventual sharp rises in unemployment in that state. It’s a provocative claim that could overturn some of the conventional wisdom about the American dream.
Oswald and Blanchflower write that a rise in homeownership in a state appears to be associated with lower levels of labor mobility, higher commute times, and the creation of fewer new businesses, which, combined tend to increase the unemployment rate. The authors offer one reason for less business creation could be that homeowners are likely to use zoning to restrict business activity. - Read the new paper here