This blog features information about the political campaign nationally and in the state of Pennsylvania. it will discuss congressional races western PA, but it won't restrict comments to those jurisdictions. On many occasions, it will feature humor, but its main purpose is to "cut the legs off" political jihad. This is a site for political grown-ups of all ages.

Location: Ambridge, Pennsylvania, United States

I have a Ph.D. from the University of Rochester (English and American Literature). I taught for 10 years at various educational institutions (Univ. of Rochester, my alma mater, College of William and Mary, and University of Georgia, where I was also Asst. Ed. of the Georgia Review. Later, I worked as a speechwriter and "thinker" at various large companies, including Phillips Petroleum, Gulf Oil, Aetna, Merck (consultant), and Eli Lilly (consultant), among many others. I'm a full-time writer and political commentator/analyst. Favorite company: AudioTech Business Books. Favorite female: my wife, Patricia Ann Maloney. Favorite politcal candidate: Diana Lynn Irey (PA's 12th congressional district)

Monday, January 22, 2007

Health Care Proposals: More Recipes for Disaster

At the state (PA) and national level we are hearing more proposals to "reform" health care, with particular emphasis on reducing the number of uninsured. Most of the solutions offered will exacerbate the problem. They will sharply increase overall health care costs -- and significantly reduce the availability and quality of care. I wrote the following to the former editor of the "Forum" (Sunday) section of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. It continues to publish columns that are monuments to bad ideas about health care.

John (Allison): I read the arhticles on health care in the "Forum" Sunday -- and am sure you did also. I just kept shaking my head.

What the "Forum" badly needs is a health care economics article by Dr. David Gratzer, author of The Cure. He practices medicine in Canada and the U.S.

The problem with the (Gov.) Rendell Plan and nearly every other "progressive" approach to reducing the number of uninsured is this: when you pour more money and patients into what's essentially a closed system (one with a fixed number of medical people and hospitals, basically an oligopoly), you do two things: (1) raise the costs; (2) increase the length of the lines of people waiting for treatment.

It's a version of what happens in South America when governments "solve" their economic probllems by printing more money. People are happy for a week or so, and then the cost of everything goes through the roof.

So, you print still more money. Then, as prices syrocket, you insitute price controls, which mean that everybody has a lot of "funny money," but the supply of goods -- from health care to toilet paper -- dries up.

In American health care, therer are signs of hope, one of them surprisingly being Medicare Plan D. So that I would avoid hitting the coverage limit (the "doughnut hole") I experimented with shifting from a drug that cost $160.00 a month (Avandia, for adult diabetes) to a drug that costs $4.00 a month (at Wal-Mart) -- Metformin. Guess what, the Metformin does the trick.

Aha, I just solved a big chunk of the health care problem. It's called capitalism!

Hillary Clinton is planning "Rendell-Care" on a national scale. If she's "lucky," she won't bankrupt the nation until shortly before the end of her second term.

The answer is to give people information and allow them to make intelligent choices about health care. Government support should go only to those who truly need it, and they should get a maximum amount of freedom in making their own decisions about treatment. Those steps would reduce costs and improve the overall quality of the products (health care) people receive, something that occurs in every other segment of our economy.

Yes, it's all that simple. No, I don't want a Pulitzer Prize for my insights.

But I do wish you'd pass this along to your successor at the "Forum," and I hope he'll engage the writing and thinking skills of Dr. Gratzer. In lieu of Gratzer, if he's unavailable, choose me.

steve maloney
ambridge, pa

Tomorrow (Tuesday) I'll have another piece on "The Old Conservatism"


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