James Pethokoukis

Politics and policy from inside Washington

China questions costs of U.S. healthcare reform

November 16, 2009

Guess what? It turns out the Chinese are kind of curious about how President Barack Obama’s healthcare reform plans would impact America’s huge fiscal deficit. Government officials are using his Asian trip as an opportunity to ask the White House questions. Detailed questions.

Boilerplate assurances that America won’t default on its debt or inflate the shortfall away are apparently not cutting it. Nor should they, when one owns nearly $2 trillion in assets denominated in the currency of a country about to double its national debt over the next decade.

Nothing happening in Washington today should give Beijing any comfort or confidence about what may happen tomorrow. Healthcare reform was originally promoted as a way to “bend the curve” on escalating entitlement costs, the major part of which is financing Medicare and Medicaid. That is looking more and more like an overpromised deliverable.

For instance, a new study from the U.S. government’s Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services finds that the healthcare reform bill recently passed in the House of Representatives would increase healthcare spending to 21.3 percent of GDP by 2019 compared with 20.8 percent under current law. That’s bending the curve the wrong way. The study also questions the “long-term viability” of the $500 billion in Medicare cuts meant to help pay for expanded insurance coverage.

In addition, the CMS study gives a clearer cost estimate than the one provided by the Congressional Budget Office. According to the CBO, the 10-year cost of PelosiCare is $894 billion. But that analysis includes early years with little government spending, According to the CMS, the House approach would cost $1 trillion from 2013-2019, or some $140 billion a year when fully put into effect.

Few realists in Washington think any of the current reform plans make a significant dent in the long-term healthcare cost to government. Indeed, the Senate Budget Committee recently held hearing about creating a bipartisan commission to find solutions to America’s entitlements problems.

If healthcare reform really bent the curve, there would be a no need for such a commission to do Healthcare Reform 2.0.

The Chinese might want to keep up the questioning.

Comments

Barack Obama is a bonafide pantywaist.

Posted by HTS | Report as abusive
 

This is like Bernie Madoff flying to China to assure his customers their money is in good hands. The difference is China has a copy of the income statement and balance sheet of the Ponzi schemer.Last Asia tour I remember was last Spring when Pelosi and Geithner were called into the “Big Red office”. My recollection was when Geithner told a gathering of college students “the dollar is safe and there is no concern”, they could not hold it in and actually LAUGHED IN HIS FACE! And that’s the college kids, not the actual holders of the debt. Freudo The Jester! Put him on Comedy Central.As far as I’m concerned, those that are raiding our Treasury through their Ponzi schemes and corruption should be wearing stripes and eating veggie loaf with Bernie. Pretty funny when Obama was lecturing on Madoff–Social Security and Medicare are the two biggest Ponzi schemes in history and if the young workers and new immigrants all stopped contributing “new dollars in”, the system would collapse in a matter a weeks.

Posted by Ponzi Schemer | Report as abusive
 

imgibson -Usually companies that work for profit do not go broke. The government does not work for profit and Medicare and Medicaid are broke and social security is almost there. There will be a death panel when the money is almost gone and the government decides it needs to be used for the most “cost effective treatments,” which will not include treating the elderly. The real problem, special interest, is not being addressed and needs to be addressed for the health care issue to be solved. The in state anti-trust practices that health insurance companies are allowed to engage in need to be stopped. Theirs plenty more that can be addressed but putting the most inefficient organization in our country in charge of the most important aspect of our lives is not the right move, the politicians do not care about your or I as long as they get elected.

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

Are you listening, Congress? We owe so much to the Chinese that if they call in the debt the Great Ship of State is sunk. Do you think George Soros and the extreme Moveon.org will finance this debt? Think again. It seems that our Congress has decided that Communism is best for us. May God have mercy on our country.

Posted by Carolyn | Report as abusive
 

Not for me, but for thee? You dolts who put the heart on your sleeve about the evil corporations denying healthcare and how the government is the model of compassion and efficiency can go first. Make participation voluntary in the government option, but once you opt in you can never opt out. Kind of a Hotel California thing. I suggest you visit a VA hospital to get an up close and personal look at the compassion of the government. And then you can explain to me why the UK has private hospitals and why there are clinics all along the Canadian borders that Canadians visit for healthcare. There are lot’s of communist and socialist countries and if you like that system so much vote with your feet. We have the best health care and the best delivery system in the world, let’s change that? Yeah that makes sense…to a liberal. We need to make people totally dependent on uncle sugar. Private healthcare won’t disappear, it will move to Costa Rica and the well to do will buy it there. If it is so good, why is congress exempting themselves from it?

Posted by kwills | Report as abusive
 

Most of the posts seem to be off the subject of the news piece, however I’m just like everyone else, obsessed with health care reform. Our problem in this country is that inspite of our history of free enterprise we are saddled with the precedent of employee insurance coverage at work. The truth is that private insurance allocation of health resourses is better than governmen allocation of same, but only marginally so. The problem is third party interference in the freemarket process. So to me the obvious solution is a robust Health Saving Account program with patients paying for a very high deductable insurance plan out of the HSA which would kick in after the annual HSA funds were exhausted. Tort reform, prexisting conditions, portablility, insuring across state line,and last but not least fraud could be addressed as separate problems

 

“Indeed, the Senate Budget Committee recently held hearing about creating a bipartisan commission to find solutions to America’s entitlements problems.”Nice bit of whitewash there. What is going on is that several backstabbers (such as Lieberman) are blackmailing the Senate to form a committee of non-elected officials that will call for drastic slashes in Social Security and Medicare benefits (not to mention privatizing these programs), and these proposals will be rammed through on an up-or-down vote with very little time to read it, let alone try to mitigate the damage with any amendments.If Lieberman and his cohorts do not get their way, they will threaten to vote against any raise in the debt ceiling next month, which would cause us to go into default on our national debt and nearly double it overnight.What is going on right now is nothing short of a nightmare in the works, with every single elderly & disabled person on assistance being held hostage.

Posted by MiHI | Report as abusive
 

Those greedy corporations made money off of Penicillin, birth control pills, H1N1 vaccines, AZT, Viagra, pace makers, artificial hearts, and aspirin just to name a few. How dare they! No one should ever make a profit for helping fellow human beings. That evil Sierra Club is making a profit helping the environment. Let’s go after them too.

Posted by Al | Report as abusive
 

The Obama Doctrine: The State creates the problem, so that it can step in and claim a solution to fix it and tax you for it so that it can make others pay for it who then affected by having had to pay for it, now tell the state they have a problem, so the state can step in and claim a solution to fix it and tax you for it….so that it can be…….

Posted by WeMadeAmistake | Report as abusive
 

it’s all about “redistributive wealth

Posted by bill984 | Report as abusive
 

Why doesn’t anyone get that the whole reason China is interested is because of their investment in us. We OWE THEM MONEY! Wouldn’t you want to make sure that someone who has borrowed from you is able to pay it back? Everyone knows to steer clear of lending to someone who just went out en mas to get sources of credit. This is SICK!

Posted by fjordpiner | Report as abusive
 

If you owe $100,000 to the bank, the bank owns you. If you owe $1,000,000,000,000 to the bank, YOU own the bank…I don’t think the Chinese like being owned by this Chicago punk.

Posted by Bob | Report as abusive
 

obviously the chinese never heard of SEIU or Andy Stern.

Posted by bill984 | Report as abusive
 

Silver Fox – I appreciate your frustration. One way I have found that seems to offer a genuine opportunity to effect change is participation in GOOOH (pronounced ‘go’, the website is http://www.goooh.com). GOOOH stands for ‘Get Out Of Our House’ and seeks to replace ALL existing members of the House of Representative with citizens that genuinely represent their community. It is an interesting process and appears to have a reasonable chance of success. I encourage everyone to check it out for themselves.

Posted by Diane | Report as abusive
 

You Health Care bill proponent drones want to trust your health to government which cannot be held accountable for anything. You can’t sue a congressman or a president. How stupid are you. Tort reform alone would pay for all citizens who don’t have coverage. The DEMarxists won’t go along with Tort Reform for two reasons. One, the ambulance chasing lawyers own the Democrat party. They are the largest lobbyist contributors. Two, the DEMarxists don’t care about reducing costs because if they did, they would institute Tort Reform and Interstate competition. What they want is government control and power over the American people. The liberals want a statist one party state like Venezuala. We are heading toward a national revolt and people are going to riot and resist further attempts to revise the constitution by Obama and his leftist marxist minions.

Posted by WeMadeAmistake | Report as abusive
 

Mr. President, it appears you are getting used to bowing or kowtowing to other world leaders. Might as well act subservient to them because you are borrowing our nature’s future like a kid wanting money from their Mommy and Daddy for toys. Toys like health care, cap and tax, etc. we cannot afford. GROW UP! It’s the economy….stupid!!

Posted by Panderin | Report as abusive
 

Imgibson: This “greedey corporations” line is just so much garbage. The greed comes from the selfish and corrupt leftist who extort money from hard working citizens to enhance their own power. Government TAKES from people by force of GUNS and PRISON. The “greedy” corporations actually have to produce things and employ people. Government is not all bad and business is not all good. But to think that government is the solution to anything is childlike and naive.Why to people on the left think government is so pure and business is so bad. I think its a mental deficiency.

Posted by Tod Renfro | Report as abusive
 

“There is no problem with Fannie Mae”-Barney Frank. Two years later, Fannie Mae collapses and goes bankrupt.”There is no problem with GM”-GM CEO. Two years later, GM collapses and goes bankrupt.”There is no problem with Washington Mutual”-Wa Mu CEO. Two years later, Wa Mu collapses and goes bankrupt.”There is no problem with the U.S. dollar”-Tim Geithner. Two years later, ??????What do you think????

Posted by Geithner Fan | Report as abusive
 

Mr. President, it appears you are getting used to bowing or kowtowing to other world leaders. Might as well act subservient to them because you are borrowing our nation’s future like a kid wanting money from their Mommy and Daddy for toys. Toys like health care, cap and tax, etc. we cannot afford. GROW UP! It’s the economy….stupid!!

Posted by Panderin | Report as abusive
 

It is not the responsibility of GOVERNMENT to supply goods and services. At all cost we leave that to free enterprise. If the health insurance industry needs better regulation so be it. They’re profits are they’re business anyway. And when are the proponents going to realize that without TORT REFORM there is no healthcare reform. The bill which recently passed in the House does not include tort reform. I would rather lie in the street sick than have the corrupt federal government supply me with health care. Most of us want absolutely nothing from government. Shame on the rest of you spoiled babies who think you need the government to survive.

Posted by patrick | Report as abusive
 

Margaret Hatcher speech, november 1, 1980 “it is neither moral nor responsible for a government to spend beyond the nation’s means-even for services which may be desirable” British health care/New York Times, November 10, 2009 This has been the worst winter in memory for Dr. Don Wijetunge, who runs the emergency room at St. George’s Hospital in South London. At times as many as 30 patients have been sprawled on gurneys outside his emergency room, waiting for treatment for things like pneumonia, heart attacks, stabbings and injuries from car accidents. Because Government financing cuts have forced St. George’s to do away with many acute-care beds, Dr. Wijetunge said, these patients have had to wait — often for 48 hours or more — even as their conditions worsen. “Over several years, the situation has so deteriorated, say doctors, patients, hospital officials, opposition politicians and economists, that even some of the system’s staunchest supporters are beginning to wonder if Britain’s beloved system of socialized medicine is in danger of collapse.’My fear is that the system has been trimmed down so much that it can’t cope with any new pressure,” said Dr. Margaret Blott, a consultant in obstetrics and gynecology at King’s College Hospital in South London. ”There is no slack at all.” British health care has long been bedeviled by problems like worsening hospital conditions, waiting lists for major surgery that can stretch out beyond a year, differing standards of care in different regions and deepening dissatisfaction among health-care workers. There has been a slow migration toward private health care among people who can afford it.”"Back in the 1960s, (Claude) Castonguay chaired a Canadian government committee studying health reform and recommended that his home province of Quebec — then the largest and most affluent in the country — adopt government-administered health care, covering all citizens through tax levies. The government followed his advice, leading to his modern-day moniker: “the father of Quebec medicare.” Even this title seems modest; Castonguay’s work triggered a domino effect across the country, until eventually his ideas were implemented from coast to coast.” Four decades later, as the chairman of a government committee reviewing Quebec health care this year, Castonguay concluded that the system is in “crisis.”

Posted by enigmaforever | Report as abusive
 

Bottom line is Government is the most inefficient entity in existence. Note the decrease in this Health Care bill for Medicare (which is bankrupt), what in the world makes you think that Government Health Care won’t get the same trimming a few years in the future? Additionally, in response to imgibson, the Insurance companies as efficient as they are have an average profit of 2%, far less than most small businesses. So if you want to talk it up, please come equipped with the facts. Lets fix the existing system then we can think about making changes.

Posted by Capn Jack | Report as abusive
 

Anyone with a little bit of common sense would see the folly of this Administration’s fiscal policy.It is not about the right to health care, or the greed of corporations. That has always existed and always will. It is about the greed of politicians, and whether we can afford it or not.If you want to fully finish destroying our economy, go right ahead. Otherwise, stop, and realize that these crooked politicians don’t cxare about the poor, don’t care about you, don’t care about the Nation that they swore alegiance to.Even the Chinese realize that we cannot afford that new program.

 

god how are going to pay for all of this no wonder china is asking questions awwwww!!!!!!!!!

Posted by lou | Report as abusive
 

China is infiltrating our economy just as effectively as the Muslims are invading Europe–piece by piece and all they need is time. Freakanomics!

Posted by Realist | Report as abusive
 

Dear IMGIBSON,It seems that you are emotionally motivated by fear “greedy corporations whose only concern is profits,” much more than those of us who are desirous to maintain our individual freedom. At this point I can choose which “greedy corporation” to do business with according to what ever rationale suits me, or even choose not to do business with any “greedy corporation” at all. This enormous governmental take over of the United States Health Care Market will drastically alter my freedom of choice in health care services, insurers, and other related matters. Are you unaware that freedom does have a price, sometimes a high one?

Posted by P G Jackson | Report as abusive
 

The liberals have supported 45 million abortions since the passage of Roe v. Wade. That’s alot of unborn people that could be contributing to GDP and taxed at 50% of income.

Posted by Big Brother | Report as abusive
 

US = FAIL. Freedom no longer exists.

Posted by Kevin | Report as abusive
 

Ok, lets say we kill off Warren Buffett and Bill Gates in home invasion robberies and take all their money. That would be something like a $120 billion haul!Ummm, unfortunately that only pays for about 10 months of Obamacare.Do you know how much $1 TRILLION dollars is??? If you pay it back $1 a second, you could pay it off (at zero interest) in just over 32,000 years!

Posted by Perspective | Report as abusive
 

Wow, who’d have thunk it, the communist country does not like a socialist program?

Posted by Matt | Report as abusive
 

AT LEAST WITH PRIVATE INSURANCE YOU CAN SWITCH PROVIDERS!!!!!! THAT’S THE POINT!!!!!!!! and at least if the private insurance company screws up or doesn’t pay, you have SOME option to sue or file complaint or do SOMETHING to rectify the situation. What are we going to do when it’s the US government running all things? SUE THEM? TWIST THEIR ARMS? WON’T WORK!!!!!!!!!

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

Looks like the Chinese are asking the questions our own mainstream press are too infatuated with Obama to ask. When will this cease?

 

imgibson – you are a moron. Look up the best drug to use to cure colon cancer. It is called Avastin. Avastin cost over $49,000 a year and you know which countries haven’t approved the drug yet? That’s right Canada and Europe. Although, I think Canada has recently approved it. But you know which country it was approved in FIRST? USA! So if you want a healthcare system that doesn’t provide the best drugs for its citizens or to give them the best chances to survive, then please move to Canada or Europe.

Posted by artie lange | Report as abusive
 

Looks like the Chinese are asking the questions our own mainstream press are too infatuated with Obama to ask….and need to be asked.

 

Bow down before the one you serveyou’re going to get what you deserve–NiNAn endless line of socialists, communists, statists, liberals, progressives Americans are elected to every level of government (with very few exceptions) in america. Socialism had a bad century, but we thought we’d have a go. Well, its time for Americans to get the full experience…silly fools, the founding fathers gave you everything you needed and you traded it for some progressive magic beans. You could still save yourselves by returning to the Constitution (yes, including the 10th amendment) and voting for politicians to federal offices that would apply conservative fiscal policy upon the federal government…. oh, never mind, you prefer the road to ruin.

Posted by SteveBennett | Report as abusive
 

and the government is concerned about your health? Its all about money and not your health. Either the docs and the corporations are going to make the dough under the current plan or the labor unions under the proposed plan. If you think everyone is going to get all the care they need under govn healthcare, you’re idiotic. Someone has to get kicked to the curb because demand will out run supply. I vote to restrict access to old people first. Then the lame. In fact, let’s give priority to fit and trim non-smokers who are government worker. Fat, out of shape, smokers from the private sector need to be at the back of the line.

Posted by Fred | Report as abusive
 

What makes all You libs think that by turning over all your health issues to the government you will not have Greed! You think there are no crooked politicians? you think they dont steal from US… get a clue.

Posted by Lonnie | Report as abusive
 

the cost of the health care reform doesn’t concern me only the republicans who r in bed with corp america, the same ones who deregulated our system to the point of destruction. and for china just foot the bill u have no choice ur economy depends on it, and as for reforms china has no room to talk reform, i don’t like the goverment one bit, as for there concern get your cards in order first before u dictate ur concerns about us, ur people would understand that but u censor them and torture them, i wish they could have heard obama’s speech China censored it how sad did u see the kids in the town hall they were terrified to comment at all.

Posted by jim | Report as abusive
 

This is like bailing water out of the Titanic with teaspoons as billions of gallons of saltwater pour in. The Chinese own the ship, Geithner and Pelosi are manning the teaspoons, the gash in the side of the ship is government/special interest corruption, the gushing water is our deficit, there is no one and no way to possibly save the ship and the women and children are getting placed in the life boats as quickly as possible by Ron Paul and Glenn Beck. As the ship sinks, violinist Obama continues to play the sweet music and the captain is on his knees pleasuring Barney Frank as he protects him from the angry mob.The Titanic was thought to be unsinkable. We all know how that one ended.”We’re gonna need a bigger boat!”-Chief Martin Brody, Jaws

Posted by Sheriff | Report as abusive
 

So we spend about 80% of the cost of healthcare in the last 3 months of someone’s life. Thats ridiculous! Dieing isn’t the worst thing in life. We need to change our attitude about dieing. We do TOO much to extend life in the U.S. The drug companies don’t give a rats a** about extending life, they just want the huge sums of money for giving people false hope. Just let them die.

Posted by Will | Report as abusive
 

Those who hate business here are completely bnrain washed. Why do you think the US is the leader in virtually all medical break throughs throughout the entire world, be it pharmaceutical, interventional, therapeutics, or molecular and genetic advancement of understanding diseases? You think these “evil” companies do it out of the good of their heart? If so, why aren’t the same achievements coming out of all other places in the world? It happens because there is a profit motive folks. Plain and simple. It’s not “evil” to make a profit. They didn’t steal anything from anyone. They created a good or service for sale, and the patients agreed to buy it. It’s a MUTUAL exchange, something no liberal could ever grasp. Meanwhile, medical care is top notch and the most advanced on the planet as a result. Profit motive actually leads to BETTER service and goods, again, something no liberal could grasp. The liberal mentality is that of the DMV. The best and brightest go into medicine with brutal training, long hours, and huge expense because again, there is a profit motive. Take that away and we are left with unmotivated, less qualified care givers and no medical break throughs.By the way, keeping the fruit of one’s labor is not evil. TAKING the fruit of someone ELSE’S labor IS EVIL. Furthermore, you base it out of some moral relativism crap which is only used to justify heinous acts.Can ANY liberal ever discuss any company without adding the word “evil” to it first? Liberals are so mentally challenged, have such an enormous herd mentality taht one has to truly wonder. Notice that the only companies that aren’t evil are the ones taken over by the unskilled labor which never had any finacial risk at all.Why do liberals fear big business which but love big government? Want to compare which is more corrupt? In caase you wonder, ask tax cheat Geitner, soon to be felon Charlie Wrangle, or any of the other cabinet members who also are guilty of crimes.

Posted by Syrin | Report as abusive
 

Ching, chang, chung . . . Barrack Hussein Obama.

Posted by Yoda | Report as abusive
 

I agree with Howdy Doody. He’s right on in his comments. “imgibson,” you’re just another dopy liberal who has no concept of how inefficient our govt. is. you think they’ll put your health first and foremost in their plan? gimme a break. I was in the military for 6 years and saw how jacked up govt. health care was. unless you’re bleeding internally, all they do is give you an advil and tell you to go home. Not to mention, you wait for hours upon hours just like at the dmv, post office, etc. I don’t mind reforming private insurance companies, and regulation to a degree, but national health care by the govt. is a joke. If you can’t see the gradual take over of your every facet of your life by this govt., then your blind and idealistic as a bat.

Posted by mdog | Report as abusive
 

What makes you libs think you have the right to force me to pay for your health care anyway? I got mine the old fashioned way – “I eaarned it”. You should try it sometime. Anyway, all this talk may me irrelevant. As it turns out, the Chinese may well decide the issue for us. And I doubt they care about anything but the costs and the deficits.

Posted by Hedley Lamar | Report as abusive
 

What a turn of eventss? a former 3rd world country asking questions of America as if it were a 3rd world country. If the Chinese can see Obama for what he is a narcissistic liar why can’t the Kool Aid drinking liberals?

Posted by tgambogi | Report as abusive
 

We can not afford these health proposals, period. Why can not Congress and President Obama understand the basics of “If you do not have the money, you can not spend it.” Interesting that the Chinese may be the only ones who can stop this outrageous travesty called the “health care reform bill” as they are questioning Obama about the 1.2 trillion dollar plan. Have you read the headlines today: $12.5 billion is not enough from tax payers to hold up GMAC; the FDIC (taxpayers) took over 150 failed banks which includes 5000 foreclosures on homes, buildings, land, etc. They (we) must sell billions of those debt dollars. Fannie and Freddie (taxpayers) have losses between $200 and $400 billion; two expensive wars; 14.5 million unemployed workers on government assistance programs. And the deficit increases on and on. Exactly who is going to pay for this. WE ARE. Vote for a complete over-haul of government by electing people who understand a budget and the limitations that are placed on federal government by the US Constitution and Bill of Rights. We have and need the freedom to provide ourselves with health insurance: To do that well, we need a strong economy which is the only issue Congress should be concerned about now: Not piling on more and more deficit for special interest groups in the form of a health care “reform.” Taxes will increase if any of these health proposals go through: There are better solutions that can be outlined in several pages: Tort reform, inter-state insurance; acquiring cheaper drugs from other countries; higher deductibles for insurance plans (bringing down the policy costs) forcing people to ask about the costs of health services which in turn create more competition; personal responsibility and how-to education on keeping our bodies in prime condition. REFORM will lessen our taxes and our personal expenses.OUR COUNTRY IS TOO LARGE TO BE MANAGED EFFECTIVELY AND EFFICIENTLY BY CONGRESS. ESPECIALLY A CONGRESS WHICH IS NOT CONCERNED ABOUT SPENDING MORE TO CONTROL MORE OF OUR MONEY AND OUR PERSONAL DECISIONS. Do you want another 165 federal agencies that are known to be needed by federal health care?

Posted by Juan Bruno | Report as abusive
 

all this plan does is assure we will have a harder time getting coverage and pay more.. meanwhile.. they cash in

Posted by Allan | Report as abusive
 

It is sad that the Chinese government is more worried about the US economy than our own politicians. No wonder the Chinese economy is growing while ours is crashing.

Posted by HB | Report as abusive
 

Why in the world would we leave the of the most important aspects of our life in the hands of greedy corporations whose only concern is profits.Why in the world would we leave food production – one of the most important aspects of our lives – in the hands of greedy corporations whose only concern is profits?Oh yeah, because they provide us more food at a cheaper cost to us (in labor, effort, or any other measure) than it has ever been done historically.Tell me, fellow – what business are you in? Better yet, tell me one damn thing that the government produces? They don’t even produce their own friggin red tape, they buy it from a greedy company with money they extort from us by threatening us with the police power of the state.Your comment is unbelievably ignorant.

Posted by George Hanshaw | Report as abusive
 

“Oh, whatta happun to Chrevroay??? OBAMA DI$A$TERAMA is whatta happun!!!Nothing like “The Chosen One” getting lectured by Long Duk Dong. Just another bad movie about inexperienced, awkward teenage kids.As Long Duk Dong famously said, “No more yankie my wankie.”

Posted by Mister Mister | Report as abusive
 

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