Sunday, July 19, 2009

Summers on Health Economics

In a speech last week, Larry Summers said:
Without comprehensive healthcare reform, there is little prospect of convincing markets that the long-term growth in Federal debt is under control or of convincing businesses that the United States is the most competitive place for them to invest.
This statement, while seemingly sensible to some laymen, is actually inconsistent with standard economic analysis, such as that offered by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO tells us that the healthcare bills being considered in Congress will increase rather than decrease health spending and so will hardly assure markets the Federal debt is under control. The CBO also tells us that health spending does not raise problems of international competitiveness. My understanding is that the CBO analysis of these subjects is not at all controversial among professional economists.

Which raises the question: Does the President's chief economic adviser have views on health policy that flatly contradict what most economists believe? If so, I hope Larry gives a talk on that subject, explaining where the economics profession has gone wrong.