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

And I thought it was just me that thought we were spending a trillion to fix a million dollar “problem”. But then again we spent 19 million to save or create 15 jobs in a nonexistant Congessional District too. Thats more than than a million a job. Should have just given them the money.Same with healthcare. Don’t have insurance? Here’s a million bucks. Don’t come back for more.

Posted by Jeeper | Report as abusive
 

Barney frank said it best “WE WANT THE INSURANCE COMPANIES PROFITS” don’t you losers get it, its always about the money, frank and pelosi don’t give a big rats hairy rear end about health care it is a big joke to them.

Posted by Joe | Report as abusive
 

“This is the question I would like to ask. Health next to family is probably the most important aspect of one’s life. 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.Posted by imgibson “SNIPPED- by DixHistory.comWell imgibson you souldn’t. You should man up and make sure you have enough money in your pocket to pay for your own health care.How you choose to do that is up to you but it is not the governments place to do it for you or to me.

 

My sister in law, lives in Michigan, the poster child for the “dysfunctional state”, that has re-elected democrat gangsters for the past 50 years, and still has a 49% illiteracy rate among adults after priming the education pump (rat-hole)for that same 50 years, and boasts a 15% unemployment rate. She said, “the economy may be bad in Michigan, but it’s getting better everywhere else.” Slightly puzzled, since she actually LIVES in Michigan and DOES NOT LIVE everywhere else, I asked how she knew that? She said she heard on NPR that Obama said it was getting better. She and her husband both have Masters’ degrees from a Big Ten University. How do you like those apples?

Posted by NCMike | Report as abusive
 

Do ya think?Or maybe them Chinee spend too much time listening to ol Sean Hannity.

Posted by Jay Busta | Report as abusive
 

Well’ maybe China can stop Obama, can’t say Americans have not tried!Obama can shove his health care where it belongs!

Posted by Franco American | Report as abusive
 

I have a novel idea that will cut health care costs and give everyone more control over their health benefits. Why don’t we treat health insurance as insurance. The definition of insurance is a product that transfers risk from an individual to the insurance company. If people had to pay for the day-to-day routine things and had a catastrophic health insurance policy that kicked in when costs reached a certain level, the costs of these services would drop dramatically.

 

NCMike: Said November 17th, 20098:29 pm GMT [permalink] My sister in law, lives in Michigan, the poster child for the “dysfunctional”Snipped”That is funny as He** and sad that it is more than likely true.

 

- Posted by Kristin @ klingtocashNow that is hitting the nail on the head.

 

There is no more greedy a corporation than the federal government, AND they own the courts, white house the legislature and the military. You have NO recourse with the Fed and if you think greedy corps and banks don’t own the government your head is in the sand brother. Dispersion of power is the answer and what we are doing is consolidating the worst of what California, New York, Detroit, Washington DC, the American BAR and Goldman Sachs has to offer.

 

I equate China as the bank telling someone that they can’t afford their mortgage. Maybe we should listen for once.

Posted by Ed | Report as abusive
 

Of course the government will handle medical care in a way that is more expensive. In terms of freedom and cost, the private sector is almost always going to do it better than govt. We have tons of empirical evidence to prove this. Unfortunately, too many of us have forgotten the wisdom of our founders who clearly tried to limit the power of government, esp the federal govt. “That government is best which governs least.”

Posted by John | Report as abusive
 

The interest on the national debt would pay for all the healthcare need of the uninsured. This, no one looks at. The reason for all the problems is the Congress. Congress is responsible for all the good and bad things we have to contend with. So if Congress is the problem, we need to dump the bast*rds in the river and put some people in there that represent the people. This is where term limits would play a large part in insuring Congressmen dont get too comfortable, and start screwing the people.

Posted by JAQUEBAUER | Report as abusive
 

Require all govt employees to use the govt health insurance this will fix it all

Posted by J B | Report as abusive
 

All of you who talk about “Greedy” corporations but like the idea of the government running things have your heads in the sand. I have relatives in Canada, in the “Wonderful” government healthcare there. My uncle is scheduled for surgery in two months, “If” no higher priority surgery bumps his date. My aunt needed non-life threatening foot surgery. She waited 14 months for the surgery, in pain when she walked the entire time. Most of the problems with health care are because of government meddling in the free market. The politicians (both parties) are tied to big corps, unions, and lawyers who write laws which favor their buddies. Obama is the worst but every president after Reagan has been pushing for more government and favoring their big doners. There is a name for big government and big business colluding to control the economy, it’s called Facisim.

Posted by Winston Smith | Report as abusive
 

increasing profit without increasing the productive power of man, therefore his society’s general welfare is the scam of history. its called monetarism, it is the arch enemy of the US Constitution. Globalisation must be stopped. The mnoey curve is always hyperinflationary, enriching the few while the production curve has been careening off a cliff, damning the many. This has now manifested itself into the catastrophe it was born to be. Kill off monetarism and go with the USA Constitution, which is lawfully and morally a credit system or the whole world is truly doomed

 

Lets see. Global warming is going to end mankind in 10 years unless we do something immediately. Government-Run Healthcare is needed to help the uninsured. Which sounds more important to you? Obama shelves global warming iun favor of healthcare. It’s all a shell game. What a farce!

Posted by sezme | Report as abusive
 

Why would anyone want to put their health in the hands of a bunch of politicians and government workers?? Have you gone to the Post Office lately? Or the D.M.V.? Or any county or city department? These people don’t care, they don’t have to make the customer happy, they work for a monopoly.

 
 

Bottom line .. IF you want your stinkin’ “healthcare,” then get an education to market yourself to a company that will hire you. Continually work on improving your skill set and your knowledge so that employers will compete to hire and promote you. If you aren’t getting the pay you want, or the benefits that you need, then educate yourself some more and move up the ladder. If an employer values your knowledge .. heck, even just being a good, conscientious, hard working employee . you will find the pay and the benefits you want.Healthcare is NOT a “Right.” What next? .. is government going to pay for your food, your clothes, your shoes, your cell phone bills,..?

Posted by Mark | Report as abusive
 

Maybe we should demand that employers or the government pay for our car insurance, too.

Posted by Ruth | Report as abusive
 

ha ha since when do you flubtards care about what china thinks? are you kidding me? OH forbid if these comments came under your oh so popular “bush”, you all would have flipped the almond eyes off..pubtards = retards

Posted by sam | Report as abusive
 

Go made in USA!Haas CNC!

Posted by ms | Report as abusive
 

Thanks Mark you are a genius…can we go shoot some squirrels sometime and then drink lots of beer?

Posted by sam | Report as abusive
 

yah..we you and me, and all of ya need to join my militia und then we wont be lissinnun to no goberment!we don’t need no combunuts here in ameriku!we ar amurikans. if you want helth insurunce then get a job and the compane wull buy it for ya..its all for one and one for one in amurika ..it the way its been fur a two hundrud yearsi want palin and that plumber guy to be our leaders the nuxt timewull talk to ya later

Posted by hill billy henry | Report as abusive
 

Even for a cause as worthy as healthcare reform, it is ludicrous to dig our selves even deeper in debt. The debt we are already in is inconceivable. We must find a way to PAY BACK our debts–all of it–and balance our budget, or we are worthless and despicable.

Posted by Adam | Report as abusive
 

How many times must socialism be tried to learn that simply does not work. Whoops, I forgot, Our Dear Leader and his sycophants are smarter than all who have gone before. Well at least they are a more egotistical crowd than I’ve ever seen in elected office. Yes, you CAN fool most of the people SOME of the time, but I suspect the smoke has cleared enough for almost anyone to see the Obamanuts for what they are. The remaining issue… can there ever be another legitimate election in the USA with the Obama gang controlling the voter rolls and counts. Sounds iffy at best.

Posted by Honest John | Report as abusive
 

Very simple=if the insurance companies are makin massive profits because of their pricing ==why are they not the hot stocks vs other sectors? Be honest with yourself ///

Posted by Jon Fox | Report as abusive
 

oh yea er.. and er duh..lets see there are plenty of ‘things’ that work pretty well and hey they are ‘socialistic’..oh mgd did you just read that!?hey been to another continent lately? Hey see the people round the world who have health care and trains that run and massive public works projects that put the old US to shame…and we cant do this here?yes we can. are health care system might be good when it comes to care but it is certainly NOT efficient as it stands..and why wouldn’t you want to cover your fellow uninsured citizen?Stinks of unpatriotic

Posted by sam | Report as abusive
 

For some reason the president said the the government health care option will not increase the deficit but reduce it. I guess what he means is that taxes will increase because from what I remember in accounting you can’t decrease your liabilities by increasing liabilities.If anyone knows any history you can find that the original democracy of Greece collapsed due to bankruptcy. It provided more benefits to its people that it could support. Sound familiar?

 

For about 40 years I have been paying health insurance. Have never really needed much from them since I do not like to go to doctors. So, yes, they made a profit from me for 40 years. Three years ago I was diagnosed with MS. The insurance is now footing a bill of about $50,000. per year. Whatever profit they made from me, they are spending it now. I thank God that I have insurance and since I am 61 do you think that if this healthcare bill passes Medicare will be paying that kind of money?? Right now my deductible for medicine is $25.00, under Medicare that deductible would be $425.00. What do you think I want??

Posted by Ily | Report as abusive
 

It’s certainly interesting, but in no way surprising, that the voices that speak in favor of a benificent government, taking such loving care of all of us dumb hicks, is delivered in the authoritative voices of deep thinkers like sam and hill billy henry, true intellects of the left. The depth of moral relativist “thinking” is brilliantly on display for all to see. The scarecrow position has rarely been so clearly articulated.

Posted by NCMike | Report as abusive
 

There are two things that should be done to help fix healthcare. We Americans have the best healthcare system in the world. The two things that should be fixed in Healthcare are:1. Allow companies to compete nationwide – not just in a single state2. “Loser Pays” tort reform.A lot of unnecessary costs of Healthcare come from doctors being forced to run tests because if they don’t they will be sued. With loser pays, frivolous lawsuits would be much less common and therefore, doctors wouldn’t have to pay so much in malpractice insurance. “Greedy Corporations” will not be able to overcharge you because they will have to compete against other insurance companies – the basis of capitalism. And the government’s job it to provide an army – not to run our Healthcare system.

Posted by Anonymous | Report as abusive
 

Once again we are talking about healthcare reform. Socialized healthcare was introduced in the 1930′s by Senator John D. Dingell, Sr. Again it was debated in the early 60′s as well in the 90’s with Hillary-care. Each time the proposals all reeked of governmental nanny state controls and Americans repeatedly slammed it down. Today most Americans (some 84%) do not see their healthcare as the country’s biggest problem today, but they do know some reform is needed. They see disease and ill-health all around themselves and the ones they care for and don’t know how to get out of its deadly grip.This is where government can get involved. Big government must naturally be limited to what it does so it doesn’t usurp its privileges and the Constitution so limits it. But it can initiate the matter, it can arbitrate the discussion and be the start of change that Americans can believe in (where did we here that?). Government can bring the industries and consumers to the table with pressure for better health maintenance options that reward good health and illuminate proven disease initiators.The government must demand better food production from industry with healthier food products manufactured in safe and wholesome ways. The Europeans and Japanese avoid most American made food like it was the plague – not the “black death” but rather the “red white and blue death”. The reasons are many and most are despotic. Foods grow no longer in the fields with lots of sunshine, vitamin d, fresh water and green grass, but rather engineered in the laboratory with sinister motives surrounding GMO altered foods, test tube cancer causing food additives, animal degenerating artificial sweeteners and disease saturated meats and proteins. This is not what made America the envy of the world. This is not what past generations of America’s farm families set on their tables for dinner.Though we may have the most technically advanced pharmaceutical-medical system we have much higher infant mortality rates and lower longevity rates than Switzerland and other western industrialized nations. How far our great nation has fallen, from the wealthiest producer to the unhealthiest consumer. Who is laughing now? Who will be crying tomorrow?The government should be using its bureaucratic largess to educate the citizenry of the importance of life sustaining foods, nutrients and supplements. This method has been proven successful since man first learned how to calm an upset stomach naturally eons ago! We must now follow the modern holistic approaches that other western nations have been successful with while combining with those of the past to create a healthy future. Again government can be instrumental. Government subsidizing both individuals and businesses through tax credits making healthcare attainable and maintainable! Making premiums affordable and making health maintenance a human reality should be the goal. Though the destruction of America’s economy and redistribution of middle class wealth had been planned over 30 years ago this government (and future ones) can be pressured through grass root American voices to begin demanding that industry recommit to the rebirth of the middle class, with true healthcare the rule not the exception. Government should be supporting industry to contribute to America’s health instead of only taking its wealth. They gave tax credits to move industry offshore through NAFTA and GATT and now its time to entice industry to help create a healthy America!What must change? First we must look at the medical industrial machine. We must stop the abuse of highly profitable invasive procedures and techniques that prove often times unnecessary. We must challenge the first call to use deadly pharmaceuticals which have more risk than cure. We must return to natural products from healthy farms and food makers first and big pharma-food industry second!This is your dilemma Washington. How can you return to health creating humanistic holistic methods that producing long living and healthy individuals without give up your corrupt connections with big pharma, big business and the eugenicist agendas?America that is really our dilemma! We Americans need to lead the charge and pledge not to re-elect any politician to office if he or she supports disease-care over health maintenance; supports big pharma-food industry over America’s family farms, and local food producers.Healthcare is everyone’s responsibility. Healthcare is fueling our human machines with fresh, wholesome, nutritional foods that sustain our physiques, brighten our minds and inspire our spirits. Only then can we achieve what our creation has meant for. Health care is holistically knowledgeable caring professionals and ethicists offering a complimentary medicinal black bag of pathways, remedies and protocols that keeps us always heading towards health while leaving disease behind.Demand true health care reform, not “single payer” governmental socialized medicine. Demand your right to nutritional freedom through nutritional foods, nutritional knowledge and nutritional care. Demand your elected officials stand up for wholesome local farming, governmental supported education on real food (not industry subsidized nutritionally useless and disease producing propaganda such as the food pyramids, etc.).We must stand against this charade of “disease-care”. Only then will we return to true human healthcare.

Posted by Gerald | Report as abusive
 

I address this to Imgibson, WOW, you have bought all the BS the Dems have shoveled your way. Medicare and Medicaid deny or refuse more treatments by almost 3 to 1 as do Health Insurance Companies. The Pre-existing condition clause was put in because people were not buying insurance until they got sick then after the Company pay for their treatment they cancelled. The Idea that the Government is really concerned about you health is laughable, the only thing they are interested in is growing Government. If you think Private Health Insurance is expensive, you will be in shock when you find out how expensive “Free” Government Health Care is going to be. If you think just the rich is going to pay for your “Free” Health Care, you have been smoking too many left wing luckies. Everyone will pay through the nose.

Posted by Glen Craig | Report as abusive
 

Sam,The insurance Co’s. make an average 3% profit a year. Well below most companies. If their gauging so much where is the profit. The biggest part of the problem with the health care system is you and me. When you go shoping for a new car, I’ll bet you go pricing the car you want at different dealers to get the best deal. Do you or me do that with health care? No we don’t because your insurance is going to pay for it so why bother. So lets blame this cost issue on everyone else except the real culprit, the user, you and me.Whats unpatriotic is blaming the free market system on a system that isn’t really a free market system.Between the failure to stop bogus malpractice lawsuits, the failure to be able to shop from multiple insurance companies in multiple states and the physician being forced to charge people with real insurance more to make up for the really lousy fees that Medicare allows as payment, our government already has screwed the system up.Just remember whenever you mess with something in one place, it’s going to try to balance itself out somewhere else.One last item. Where does the money come from for all the research that has dramatically improved health care over the last 50 years. I’ll promise you it didn’t come from the socialized health care systems. That kind of research comes from a market where there is a chance of making a profit.Remember whenever you mess with something in one place it’s going to try to balance itself somewhere else.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive
 

Oh ncmike..wow you speak way over my head..I am a jackball, I am so sorry. You know the US actually syndicates this best slice of ‘socialism’ and that is its military. Happens to be one of our best exports too. So to all of you nay sayers who say all such socialistic tendencies fail, well, there you go. Do you consider our defence to be second best?

Posted by sam | Report as abusive
 

My disabled brother had to have all his teeth pulled when he was 49 ( he’s on welfare): The Government paid for it, but refused to pay for dentures-so Miles suffered from gastric upset and bleeding ulcers until, 6 months later, he was hospitalized for an unrelated condition, a leaking heart valve. During this time, the heart doctor assigned to Miles developed a spine and informed the Dept. of “human” services ( DHS) that he consulted with other doctors and they would go to the media: Only THEN was my brother fitted for a set of dentures, less than a week after he was discharged.That’s what a public option looks like: Its based on the same minimal care Medicaid and Medicare provides: As you may have gathered from this true story, healthcare costs will skyrocket because of inadequate coverage.

Posted by Cindy Merrill | Report as abusive
 

Trust the greedy corporation with our healthcare? We must take the profit out of healthcare? What are some of you people talking about?My wife works for one of those “greedy” corporations. She spent 10 extra years in school and training and worked for slave wages during her residency for the privilege of saving your life. She has earned her salary. Why don’t you people wanting a free-ride put your money where your mouth is and work for free?

Posted by Will Roberts | Report as abusive
 

The below statement is the most ignorant statement I have read all week. The govt is not greedy?? Are you aware that state medi-cal and medicare turn down 400% MORE CLAIMS than ALL private INS companies combined? Are you aware that govt run programs are bankrupt? Are you aware that the govt run programs have MUCH longer lists of services AND medications they will NOT cover than private insurances? SINCE WHEN has the govt done ANYTHING in our best interest? That statement alone tells me you know NOTHING about this country, WHY it was founded and WHY we have the constitution in the first place! No wonder Obama got elected!”This is the question I would like to ask. Health next to family is probably the most important aspect of one’s life. 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. To me that is unbelievable. There concern is not your health so why would we believe they’re going to do anything in our best interest. Ask the families of people who have died because the insurance companies refused or denied life saving treatment. If that’s not a death panel I don’t know what is. Of course they only want to insure healthy people and omit pre-existing conditions while continually raising premiums and will continue to do it because WE HAVE NO CHOICE.How long is going to take the idiotic American public to realize we must have changes and reform.”

Posted by L. O. | Report as abusive
 

NOT THEIR BUSINESS! Nor is it the governments business! The governments sole purpose is provide funds and personell in support of our military which protects our freedom to free enterprise! We now have a situation where we are bowing to a country whose ass would be speaking Japanese if it wasn’t for us! Wake up before it’s too late! Why do we owe the Chinese money after we helped protect and build their free-market economy? We are debating an issue which truly reflects the sad state of our nation. The child did the bully,s homework so now he gives him his lunch money until the bully benefits and takes advantage of it!

Posted by Rob Guthrie | Report as abusive
 

Some great comments on this blog. We need more people from the left and Obama side, to get us their point of view across about the China remarks.Tell them not to look at this picture or it will bust their head wide open.http://www.dixhistory.com/jpg/duel. jpg

 

Gerald,Stay away from those liberal web sites they keep the info all screwed up to benefit their position. Yes you can find sites that say the U.S. has they highest infant mortality rates, but does that really logical? If you will do just a little research you will find that ours is in reality one of the lowest. With just the smallest of efforts you will learn that many countries don’t count babies that die in the first 24 hours or that are born dead, or had a deformity that caused the death. While here in the United states we count EVERY new born death. Hell, we spend more to save premies than any country in the world. By the way premies means premature births. To say the least we are not comparing apples to apples. Yet the liberals would have you think we were the worst, just to rationalize their position. If you really want an eye opener I dare you to go to the Canadian health care web site and see how long you would wait for an MRI, or wait for cancer surgery, or heart surgery. These people really do come to the U.S. for many of those surgeries. I know I have visited with them

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive
 

Go to all liberal minded websites I command ye allDo not listen to Daniel

Posted by sam | Report as abusive
 

Most of this discussion avoids the real solution. If everyone were to eat properly, which requires them to do exactly the opposite of what they are told by the AMA, (low carb, high fat,) the use of medical care would drop in half overnight.Most solutions assume individuals cannot change their need for health care, which is false.

Posted by irlandes | Report as abusive
 

Sam,Are you really afraid to address my points with witless humor. Thats the simplest form of denial.

Posted by Daniel | Report as abusive
 

good one dixie landwhat do you get when one 12 year old cousin has ‘sesual relatives’ with her 16 year old cousin? You should know this…A mute you can throw salami slices at..

Posted by sam | Report as abusive
 

We cannot afford a government run insurance program. The government is broke and American citizens in general are broke. We need health care reform, but we need free market reform. The more the government gets involved in health care, the more the costs will rise. It’s the same for every sector of our economy where there is excess government involvement (healthcare, education, real estate, etc.). We need to reform the tax code that provides tax subsidies for employer based health plans and disassociates the cost of medical care from those being insured. By doing this, people would no longer prefer to purchase health care through their employer, which would increase wages. In addition, state laws making it illegal to purchase health insurance in other states should be removed. That way, people could shop around for health insurance and use the higher wages to purchase the insurance they want. Because people would now perceive a cost associated with health insurance, they would choose the most cost effective plan, creating a situation where insurance companies would now have to compete on the basis of lower cost plans. Lastly, because those purchasing health care would perceive the costs associated with health care, people would be more inclined to purchase insurance for catastrophic medical care and use their savings to pay for routine medical care (annual doctor visits, minor illnesses and injuries, etc.), and there would no longer be an over-utilization of insurance, which is the one main reasons health care costs have continued to rise substantially year over year. By doing all of this, health care costs would be reigned in and it would make it affordable for average Americans and those with pre-existing conditions to purchase insurance. On another note, people that complain about insurance company profits, for whatever reason, are completely off base (insurance company profit margins average only 3 percent, meaning for every $1 of revenue they take in, they only keep 3 cents after covering their costs). In a healthy economy, profit motives lead to innovation, competition, and an overall higher standard of living for all citizens. Removing the profit motives of insurance companies, and any other industry for that matter, is not consistent with the underlying principles that have allowed our free society to prosper and provided all citizens with a much higher standard of living relative to the rest of the world.

Posted by Ross | Report as abusive
 

When will you Americans get it right? If you want change, and you think you have had enough, start Marching to Washington.The people of South America know how to instill change. Get a million of your friends together, raise a little hell in the village square. Get the governments attention, don’t leave until you get what you went for.

Posted by BobbyO | Report as abusive
 

Maybe when the Big Bill comes due the Chinese will take it out of the hides of our esteemed political class first and place them in a Chinese Dungeon and help us to restore our freedoms since it seems that they are moving toward free market systems and culture.

Posted by mark | Report as abusive
 

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