Friday, March 19, 2004

Less Than Brilliant

Journalist and blogger Matt Yglesias praises a paper by Dean Baker of the Center for Economic and Policy Research titled "Medicare Choice Plus, the Answer to the Long-Term Deficit Problem". The paper proposes creating a voucher component to Medicare to allow seniors to buy into the healthcare systems of other first world countries, systems that are more efficient than the American one, in order to reduce the cost of Medicare and avoid budgetary disaster. While its a good idea in theory, I am not sure how practical it is. The paper argues that such a system would be more politically viable that instituting a single payer system in the US or confronting the interest groups that are behind spiralling medical expenses in the United States, but I doubt it. In the fist place, Medicare Choice Plus would be a pretty radical change to our way of doing things and would almost certainly ruffle a good many feathers. Bill Clinton's own attempt at healthcare reform, which would not have nationalized health insurance, but rather increased coverage through market regulation, went down in flames. The main charge against it was that it was "complicated", among other things. There can be little down that the same line of attack can be taken against Medicare Choice Plus. Furthermore, it would be very degrading for America to have to pay other governments to take care of our seniors. Due to concerns about national prestige, I think set up would be unworkable. I am not sure exactly what should or can be done to fix the sorry state of healthcare in this country, but Medicare Choice Plus is not the solution.


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