Saturday, May 16, 2009

Never mind

It is becoming increasingly clear that the long-term fiscal strategy at the White House is based on large doses of wishful thinking. Here is OMB directer Peter Orszag in yesterday's Wall Street Journal:
This week confirmed two important facts -- that health-care costs are the key to our fiscal future, and that even doctors and hospitals agree that substantial efficiency improvements are possible in how medicine is practiced....If we can move our nation toward the proven and successful practices adopted by lower-cost areas and hospitals, some economists believe health-care costs could be reduced by 30% -- or about $700 billion a year -- without compromising the quality of care. This may all seem academic, but this week a stunning thing happened: Representatives from some of the most important parts of the health-care sector -- doctors, pharmaceutical companies, hospitals, insurers and medical-device manufacturers -- confirmed that major efficiency improvements in health-care are possible. They met with the president and pledged to take aggressive steps to cut the currently projected growth rate of national health-care spending by an average of 1.5 percentage points in each of the next 10 years. By making this pledge, the providers and insurers made clear that they agreed the system could remove significant costs without harming quality.
Meanwhile, over at the NY Times, we get this headline:
Health Care Leaders Say Obama Overstated Their Promise to Control Costs