Hillary Clinton has a new plan to stop what she considers “unjustified” increases in drug prices.
Slate reports that her plan comes down to European-style price control.
As president, Clinton would create a task force of regulators with the power to decide whether price increases on old, essential medicines and devices were reasonable given product improvements and the amount of competition in the market. If not, the task force would have the power to mete out punishments to companies that were trying to profiteer, potentially with fines.
Fines would still require an act of Congress, where market-friendly Republicans are likely to retain their majority in the House of Representatives and block such penalties.
Nonetheless, as Slate puts it, “Clinton is subtly sending the message that she’s comfortable moving toward a more European system in which regulators have a direct say not just in what drug companies can charge the government, but what they can charge the rest of the public, too.”
Scott Walker’s campaign for the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination has so far not impressed this blog. The governor of Wisconsin seems to be trying to appeal to every constituency in his party at once and the easiest way to do that is not say anything meaningful.
Blinded by its anti-business mentality, Britain’s Labour Party would roll back liberalizations in the National Health Service if it wins the election in May, leader Ed Miliband said on Friday.
Miliband said in London his party would halt the “tide of privatization” he claims has taken place in health care since the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats came to power in 2010. Although it was Labour that brought private contractors into the system in the first place while the rate at which services are outsourced has actually slowed under the current government.
There is no denying Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) is in trouble. Fifty years ago, it consumed only 3 percent of economic output. Now it consumes 8 percent and is on track toward claiming almost a fifth of gross domestic product by 2060 if current spending levels are sustained. By then, the NHS would account for half of public spending, crowding out defense, education and welfare.
The current government has done little to reverse this trend. It shielded the NHS from spending reductions while most other departments were forced to make deep cuts. Indeed, health spending is up 3.6 percent since the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats came to power in 2010. The NHS budget is £114 billion this year.
Even so, care is lacking and the money remains tight. Three million patients are waiting to be treated. The health service itself expects to post a £30 billion shortfall by the end of the next parliament.
Yet the ruling parties are backing away from their own reforms which were meant to rein in costs. The coalition gave health officials more autonomy and handed control of purchasing care to local doctors. This modicum of competition and decentralization was slammed by the opposition Labour Party as tantamount to undermining the whole system where it actually built on cautious liberalizations brought in under the previous Labour government. Read more “Britain Refuses to Admit Health Service’s Failure”
For anyone who watched the opening ceremony of the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, the pride Britain takes in its National Health Service (NHS) is clear. Far from the apathy that most Americans feel toward government-provided services, the NHS has been a popular feature of British life since it emerged during the late 1940s as part of the Labour Party’s postwar government. That makes the debate about how to prepare the system for an expected rise in demand at a time of austerity politically sensitive.
The NHS is a public health provider that offers treatment “free at the point of use” and gets the majority of its operating income from taxes. But like health-care providers across the developed world, the organization is coping with strain as it balances Britain’s aging population against the country’s generally lower economic activity and rising health-care costs.
The Conservative Party-led coalition government has tried to improve the situation by privatizing an array of NHS services, creating a hybrid model in which most of the services that patients interact with are government-provided but many of the auxiliary services no longer are.
This has generally not been received well. The breakdowns in service provision directly attributable to this health-care delivery method have been documented in a number of recent studies. Polls show voters trust the opposition Labour Party more to improve the NHS than they do the Conservatives. This is not in itself new but alarming to Conservative Party strategists nonetheless. In response, George Osborne, the chancellor of the exchequer, announced a £2 billion funding increase for the NHS last week. Read more “British Health Service Politically Sensitive for Conservatives”
The Wall Street Journal had a great interview with University of Chicago economist Casey Mulligan this weekend whose research proved instrumental in getting the Congressional Budget Office to revise its estimates of the employment effects of the Democrats’ health reforms.
In 2010, the CBO predicted the equivalent of 800,000 jobs would be lost as a consequence of enacting “Obamacare”. In its most recent fiscal outlook, the budget office puts the number at two million by 2017 and 2.5 million jobs by 2024.
Mulligan believes the number will turn out to be even higher. The reason is fairly straightforward: Obamacare gives subsidies to low-income Americans to buy health insurance. If they work more hours or get a promotion and their wages rise, those subsidies are gradually phased out. As The Wall Street Journal puts it, “some people will have the incentive to remain poorer in order to continue capturing higher benefits.”
When President Barack Obama promised in June 2009, while his signature health reforms were being written, and again in April 2010, after he had signed them into law, that Americans who liked their insurance would be able to “keep it” — adding, for good measure, on the last occasion, “No one will be able to take that away from you.” — it was clear to critics he was lying.
More than three years later and just a month after “Obamacare” went into effect, it should be clear to the whole country.
CBS News reports that up to two million Americans might have to find new health insurance as the coverage they have now doesn’t meet the law’s criteria.
I hinted at this in a blog post last year when I pointed out that one of the reasons medical insurance is so expensive across the United States is that many state governments mandate that insurance companies cover all sorts of treatments that consumers may not require or wish to buy, including prenatal and psychiatric care. In most states, it was already impossible for a person to insure himself again medical catastrophe alone.
“With Obamacare, it will be impossible across the country,” I warned, “because it, too, forces insurers to offer a basic plan that covers ambulatory services, hospitalization, maternity and mental health care as well as rehabilitative services.” And added, “Health insurance costs can only rise as a consequence.”
When insurers are forced to cover more types of health care, and cannot discriminate anymore against customers who are already ill, insurance becomes more expensive. Companies pass those costs onto their customers. There is, after all, no competition anymore from companies that offer leaner plans — or “substandard plans,” as Obama’s spokesman Jay Carney put it this week. The government now dictates what sort of health insurance Americans ought to have and it ought to be the same for everyone. Read more “Obama Lied: Not All Americans Can Keep Their Health Insurance”