nos-trum. pronunciation: \nos'-trum\. noun. Etymology: Latin, neuter of noster our, ours.
1. a medicine of secret composition recommended by its preparer but usually without scientific proof of its effectiveness.
2. a usually questionable remedy or scheme.
See here for more discussion.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Hindsight Determinism: Health Care Reform Was The Best Achievable

A study in the journal Health Affairs makes the case that nothing better had a chance to succeed.  What a sad and stupid commentary on failure.

First of all, they tacitly admit that reform doesn't do anything to reign in costs in any significant way.  But imitating Hayley Mills in the movie Pollyanna they find a silver lining that the you-know-what sandwich we ended up with is the best that could be obtained.
"We found that only a few different approaches would produce both more newly insured people and a lower cost to the government. However, these are characterized by design options that seemed political untenable, such as higher penalties, lower subsidies, or less generous Medicaid expansion."
In other words, "there's no success like failure and failure's no success at all" (for Bob Dylan fans).  Not much discussion about why the cost-lowering efforts weren't pursued, and why those " few different approaches" that lower costs weren't valued.  I doubt they were politically untenable.  Oh, wait, I get it; they were untenable NOT to the American people, just untenable to the party in power.  How stupid of me.

Is this the compelling logic for a major overhaul of 1/6th of the economy?  We couldn't do any better?  And, oh, by the way, the politically untenable part still leaves us on the road to financial ruin.

Yeah, I'm feeling happy about it all.  Here's a short summary of what we know about health care reform's "accomplishments" since it's passage in March:
"We've already seen reports that the total cost will be more than expected, that the administration isn't hitting its deadlines, that it won't bring overall health care spending down, that some health insurance premiums will probably rise, that Medicare benefits for many seniors are scheduled to go on the chopping block, that it will strain emergency rooms, and that employers expect medical costs to rise and are looking at dropping millions from their health care plans—all of which is to say that what the law's advocates sold to the public isn't quite what they delivered." (Peter Suderman, Reason, June 8)

[[My original draft of this post was very different.  I drew up this very rational analysis of why the authors are committing the logical fallacy of "affirming the consequent".  (1) If P, then Q; (2) Q;  therefore (3) P.  Translated into English this is like saying:

If I have the flu, then I have a sore throat.

I have a sore throat.
Therefore, I have the flu.

You see the problem?  I can have a sore throat, but it could be from something other than the flu.   So the argument is invalid.

I did this very elaborate article on how the Health Affairs authors were committing this fallacy, but I'll leave it as "an exercise for the student."   I got too depressed and said the heck with it.]]
Doc D

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