Monday, April 27, 2009

Buyer's remorse? Obama scores 0 on Slate's change-o-meter. He can be eloquent, but he's just a politician. Promises to transcend politics as usual are rarely credible in a democracy. The credible promises are usually made by would-be dictators.

Monday, April 20, 2009

The leading causes of death among Americans. I was surprised to learn that so many of us die from "medical errors -- botched procedures, mis-prescribed drugs and 'nosocomial infections.'"

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

America's future geography, according to Richard Florida:
What will this geography look like? It will likely be sparser in the Midwest and also, ultimately, in those parts of the Southeast that are dependent on manufacturing. Its suburbs will be thinner and its houses, perhaps, smaller. Some of its southwestern cities will grow less quickly. Its great mega-regions will rise farther upward and extend farther outward. It will feature a lower rate of homeownership, and a more mobile population of renters. In short, it will be a more concentrated geography, one that allows more people to mix more freely and interact more efficiently in a discrete number of dense, innovative mega-regions and creative cities. Serendipitously, it will be a landscape suited to a world in which petroleum is no longer cheap by any measure. But most of all, it will be a landscape that can accommodate and accelerate invention, innovation, and creation—the activities in which the U.S. still holds a big competitive advantage.
Read the whole thing; there are lots of interesting facts and insights.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Following up on this post, here's an estimate of the sizes of various categories of uninsured people in America. Some are a lot less deserving of government assistance than others.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Questions that should be rhetorical

Thursday, April 02, 2009

Quoting Jonathan Cohn, "it's important to defend the virtues of comparative effectiveness research." Yet:
Everybody knows that our health care system is full of wasteful spending. There's the waste from administrative overhead and the never-ending hunt, by insurers, for healthy beneficiaires [sic]. There's the waste from unnecessary, even harmful, medical services. If we could eliminate even some of that waste, it should free up a great deal of money--more than enough to subsidize insurance coverage for those people who can't afford it already. Get rid of the waste, in other words, and we can pay for universal health care. But it will take many years to pinpint and then reduce most of that excess. That means the government must find some other source of money to pay for universal coverage, at least for the time being.
Maybe, just maybe, there isn't enough money or enough human knowledge to solve all of America's problems during Obama's presidency. How about we give money to the NIH and others to spend on a lot more research about which drugs and medical services are most cost-effective, and then we revisit the universal coverage debate? Such research would be a public good, benefiting hospitals, private health insurers, and government health insurers like Massachusetts and Medicare.

We already have state and federal funding of the health coverage of poor children and retirees (poor or not). Poor adults get free emergency-room health care. If there's truly a moral imperative to provide health coverage for poor adults, then surely there is some less important government spending that can be redirected towards this end? Perhaps we could start with means testing for Medicare. Given who's in power, the money actually would come from a tax increase, but in any case, coverage for poor adults is a lot cheaper than universal coverage.