25 August 2009


I'm sure we can back-and-forth in an endless badinage about health care. But, for now let me inject a small point--a generality!--and some observations.

The accrual of profits might not be the only impetus to innovation. To wit: innovation occurs in some countries due to strict cost controls where the downward pressure on costs by cost controls motivate researchers to find ways to improve medical procedures. For example, in the U.S. an MRI of the neck region costs about $1,500, while in Japan the same procedure costs under $100. Not coincidentally, many of the medical innovations which we use come from places such as Japan, Canada, France, Switzerland, Britain, and so on.

Probably, I believe, we will have a health-care bill by November because both sides need to claim that they have been at the people's business. It will be a compromise. The Obama Administration is desperate to get some kind of bill to claim some kind of "success." The Republicans can also claim "success" by claiming they stood up for the American people and defeated "socialism" and the "government takeover" of health care. The bill will do little to lower costs and will put off to some later date any true reform. Without government involvement, I see little reform occurring.

In the meantime, the shorter-term goal of Republicans to badly wound Obama has been successful leading up to mid-term elections. Unfortunately, the party out of power has the incentive to resist what is best for the country, which lessens the party in power, until the opposition party is in power.

I believe eventually, after the country is in severely desperate crisis (the American way!), and no matter which party is in power, we will have significant government involvement in health care (which we already have, like Medicare). It would not come as any surprise that this could occur--perhaps most likely would occur under a Republican Administration (think environmental laws passed under Nixon). I imagine they will promote it as the patriotic thing to do (and depend on Americans' short memory).

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