Free Markets, Free People

Another Democrat Health Care “Fact” Bites The Dust

When we were still talking about “health care reform”, before it was renamed “health insurance reform”, one of the big selling points was government was going to change the way we did business. I.e. it was going to stress “preventive care” which, so the Dems claimed, would be less costly in the long-run.

The CBO, however, has said, “not so fast”. In a letter to Henry Waxman, among others, Dr. Douglas Elmendorf, Director of the Congressional Budget Office writes:

“Although different types of preventive care have different effects on spending, the evidence suggests that for most preventive services, expanded utilization leads to higher, not lower, medical spending overall,” Elmendorf wrote. “That result may seem counterintuitive.

“For example, many observers point to cases in which a simple medical test, if given early enough, can reveal a condition that is treatable at a fraction of the cost of treating that same illness after it has progressed. In such cases, an ounce of prevention improves health and reduces spending — for that individual,” Elmendorf wrote. “But when analyzing the effects of preventive care on total spending for health care, it is important to recognize that doctors do not know beforehand which patients are going to develop costly illnesses. To avert one case of acute illness, it is usually necessary to provide preventive care to many patients, most of whom would not have suffered that illness anyway. … Researchers who have examined the effects of preventive care generally find that the added costs of widespread use of preventive services tend to exceed the savings from averted illness.”

This is another in a long line of “facts” the Democrats have attempted to use to sell their “more coverage, better care, less cost” health care insurance reform. And it is another “fact” that has been found to be false.

Going through Elmendorf’s reasoning provides a very good explanation of why it is false. But I’ll bet that none of that reasoning or information will find its way into Democratic talking points about the goals of this legislation. Instead the false “fact” about preventive care lowering overall costs will stubbornly remain.

If so, my suggestion is you send it in as a “fishy” statement to be refuted by the White House crew that deals with these sorts of fishy facts.

Oh wait, nevermind. Apparently the White House has already dealt with the fishy CBO’s report- well sort of:

Responding to the CBO letter, Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform, said that, “to work, prevention has to be targeted. Proven services need to be directed to populations that need it, as the CBO letter suggests. We will continue to work with Congress on ensuring that dollars are spent on prevention that gets the biggest bang for the buck.”

Douglass argued, however, that there would be long-term financial savings, saying “we can’t forget that many of the benefits of prevention will accrue to the Federal government in thel long term as opposed to the near term. Prevention results in longer, healthier, more productive lives — yielding savings that don’t typically show up on a score sheet. We have to return to common sense: keeping people out of a doctor’s office or hospitals saves money. Seventy-five per cent of our health care spending goes to treat chronic diseases, many of which could be prevented from developing in the first place . Proven preventive services are worth it.”

Notice that the CBO says the problem is that preventive care can’t be targeted because doctors have no idea who would benefit until they run batteries of tests on everyone. And that is what the CBO highlights as running the costs up.

Additionally, no one is claiming “proven preventive services” don’t work or aren’t “worth it”. What CBO is claiming is they’re not “less costly”, something Douglass avoids addressing. All in all a most unsatisfactory and fishy response to the CBO argument.

~McQ

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15 Responses to Another Democrat Health Care “Fact” Bites The Dust

  • Responding to the CBO letter, Linda Douglass, the communications director for the White House Office of Health Reform, said that it didn’t matter what the CBO said or did, because no one at the White House or in the administration was listening to them. “The CBO is full of partisan, Republican hacks who are out to harm this President and to change Congress. We cannot allow them to stop our march to universal health care.” When it was pointed out to Douglass that the head of the CBO, Douglas Elmendorf, was a Democrat who was named to head the agency by Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Douglass waved her hand. “That is nonsense and you know it. I read my e-mails this morning, and I found a `fishy’ one showing that Elmendorf once ate lunch at a restaurant owned by someone who may be a Republican. This is pure and simple coordination with the opposition to this reform of our health care system, and I and the President will not stand for it.”

  • You know, when i want to prove a point i believe i am correct about, and i have good support for it. I usually go out of my way to accomidate dissenters in order to prove my points. The best way to prove someone wrong it by doing so on their own terms, you take pointed questions and give pointed answers with actualy support. The only “support” these people have is the ability to say “you wrong” no evidence to refuting of facts, they just simply say “no, thats not correct! I think iv made my point!” That suades noone.

  • We will continue to work with Congress on ensuring that dollars are spent on prevention that gets the biggest bang for the buck.
     
    How are they going to do that unless government is making the health care decisions?

  • We have to return to common sense: keeping people out of a doctor’s office or hospitals saves money.

    So far, the most honest thing this administration has said about health “insurance” reform.

  • “to work, prevention has to be targeted. Proven services need to be directed to populations that need it, as the CBO letter suggests. We will continue to work with Congress on ensuring that dollars are spent on prevention that gets the biggest bang for the buck.”

    Well it doesn’t get more scientific than that.  I’m sold.
     
     

  • The math is really quite simple. Multiply the cost of treating the condition, prostate cancer for example, by the incidence of the disease (cases per thousand, e.g.) and then compare it to the cost of the screening procedure multiplied by the incidence (which is obviously 100%). Since people are basically healthy, usually the cost of screening/prevention of everyone will cost more than treatment of a few.

  • Health Care Reform has morphed into Health Insurance Reform the same way Global Warming morphed into Climate Change

    The scum are like a virus, it never completely dies, it just mutates slightly

  • She ignores Elmendorf’s point and yet still stated something that supports his argument:
    “Prevention results in longer, healthier, more productive lives….” for those that needed the medical intervention discovered through prevention.  For the rest of us, it is simply unnecessary and costly.
     

  • to work, prevention has to be targeted. Proven services need to be directed to populations that need it
    Hmmm, doesn’t this mean that any government plan is going to have to discriminate based on age, sex, sexual orientation, and lifestyle?

  • Linda Douglas – “… to work, prevention has to be targeted. Proven services need to be directed to populations that need it…”

    Can she give us some examples? And doesn’t directing services to “populations that need it” absolutely SCREAM “profiling”? Will the government mandate that those “populations” get their preventative screening under penalty of law?

  • One example would be testing for sickle cell anemia
    The prevalence of the disease in the United States is approximately 1 in 5,000, mostly affecting African Americans, according to the National Institutes of Health.
     

    • RE: Sickle cell anemia

      1. Can you say “racial profiling”? I think you can…

      2. Is it “cost effective” to screen every American – even every black American – for this disease?

      3. The treatments at this time for the disease are pretty limited. In other words, finding out that somebody has it, while useful, isn’t going to lead to curing them of it. The best we can hope for at this time is “counseling” them NOT to have children and pass the genes for the disease on to another generation. Can you say “eugenics”? I think you can…

      4. As I understand it, the disease usually manifests itself in childhood. Are we talking about screening all black babies? And what do we do when we find that they will likely develop the disease, requiring (given the current state of medical technology) daily dosing with penicillin or other antibiotics because their immune system is damaged?

      Now, consider the ramifications of these questions. Under our present health care system, they wouldn’t even be asked because health care decisions are between a person and his doctor. Under the single-payer system that the dems want, they WILL be asked because politicians and bean-counters will have quite a lot to say about where health care dollars get spent, and they may not be inclined to spend a lot of money on a disease that is essentially incurable and only affects a portion of the population. Further, if we believe that all the yap we’ve heard in the past several weeks about what a nasty, racist country we live in, do you REALLY think that many health care bucks will be spent on black babies with this disease? And what choice will their parents have in the matter? Can you say “none”? I think you can…

  • Making more people live longer inevitably RAISES total health care costs. The longer you live, the more health care you will consume. I’m not advocating making people less healthy or making them live shorter lives (and I don’t think even Waxman and Pelosi are THAT evil). But this is a fact that can’t be argued away. In any health care system, public or private, better outcomes mean more total costs. It’s a good thing, in human terms, that better outcomes mean more costs, but it’s a bad thing, economically speaking. Anybody who can’t admit this, or tries to sell you on cost-savings as a justification for single-payer, just isn’t dealing with this ineluctable fact.

  • …it was going to stress “preventive care” which, so the Dems claimed, would be less costly in the long-run.

    Then it’s not insurance. Insurance comes AFTER something happens, not before. What we now call “health insurance” is a combination of pre-paid medical and hospitalization.
    In the not-so-distant past, insurance was only used for “major medical” expenses; everything else was out -of-pocket.