Tuesday Highlights

Good morning.

  1. Pessimism (here and here) and Optimism (here) in the wake of the healthcare passing.
  2. Loneliness and humility.
  3. Climate or weather news.
  4. Testable predictions … what are your predictions (testable).
  5. One here.
  6. On planet liberal … apparently selling crap to the government is free markets. Geesh.
  7. This would be a story to dig into … in my copious free time.
  8. Shame, a quality entirely lacking in the beltway set.
  9. On abortion and the healthcare bill.
  10. An abhorrent trend.
  11. And the big lie in the healthcare mix.
  12. Why the legislative victory will likely be Pyrrhic.

27 Responses to Tuesday Highlights

  1. On planet liberal … apparently selling crap to the government is free markets. Geesh.

    Who would have thought ‘Planet Liberal’ would have George Bush as its President and a Bush appointee running the Fed? Ohhh wait, you forgot that the Lehman bankruptcy happened in 2008?

  2. Boonton,
    I’m not arguing about what happened. This individual is calling this free market. It is that to which I am commenting. I’m unclear on why it should be called free market because it happened in 2008 when it is not.

  3. On abortion and the healthcare bill.

    I’ll point out yet again that with abortions running from $200-$500 and births running more like $5000-$7500 there are far more abortions due to lack of coverage than births that happen because the person couldn’t get abortion covered. Increasing coverage, esp. for the 18-26 yr old crowd is far more likely to cause a net decrease in abortion even if many opt to buy policies (with their own money) that cover abortion.

  4. #11 Lie in the healthcare debate:

    I like to think of the big tradeoff as being between community and liberty. From this perspective, the health reform bill offers more community (all Americans get health insurance, regulated by a centralized authority) and less liberty (insurance mandates, higher taxes).

    Insurance companies = Americans? Companies are not people.

  5. I’m sorry, I want to respond to these “arguments” about healthcare, but all I’m hearing is WAAH WAAH WAAH.

    Why does the right have to be so damn dishonest? E.g, pretending that the “59% disapproving” of the bill is significant, when that includes 13% who thought it wasn’t liberal enough. It’s a freaking compromise, meaning most people aren’t going to be happy. That doesn’t mean it’s wildly against the will of the public, the way these lying liars are pretending it is. I’m so sick of this bad-faith sophistry.

  6. Boonton,
    On your first comment … and that is an argument to cover abortions … how?

    On the second, insurance companies don’t buy insurance … so I don’t get the content of your remark. The big lie in my remark referred to “My judgement is that this health bill adds significantly to our long-term fiscal problems” which I think is clear enough and the fundamental dishonesty from your side.

  7. Oh, and my predictions:

    1) Millions of people who previously would not have had coverage will have coverage.
    2) People with preexisting conditions will not be denied coverage.
    3) Barring a major scandal, Obama wins reelection in a cakewalk.
    4) Democrats retain majorities in both chambers. (I’m less confident of this prediction than the others.)

  8. JA,
    The only way #3 is possible is that the much vaunted healthcare bill doesn’t take effect until after well into the next term. Then when HC suckage starts … he’s a lame duck.

    Interesting you make no actual testable healthcare predictions, i.e., reductions in neo-natal death rates, abortion rates or anything else.

  9. Mark,

    he only way #3 is possible is that the much vaunted healthcare bill doesn’t take effect until after well into the next term. Then when HC suckage starts … he’s a lame duck.

    I don’t even know what to say to that. You’re delusional.

    Interesting you make no actual testable healthcare predictions, i.e., reductions in neo-natal death rates, abortion rates or anything else.

    Is that interesting? Why is that interesting? I made predictions based on what the bill will do, not on indirect effects that have more to do with sociological factors and lifestyle choices. Why do you want to talk about everything except what the bill actually does? More people will be covered. That’s the whole point.

  10. On the second, insurance companies don’t buy insurance … so I don’t get the content of your remark.

    I don’t get the content of the remark I was commenting about. Is the liberty being infringed the freedom of masochists to buy expensive insurance from companies that will drop them right when they get sick? I’m sure something can be done to help such people.

    On your first comment … and that is an argument to cover abortions … how?

    Just an observation that abortion in the bill is actually treated with more restrictions than abortion in the rest of the system (i.e. employer provided insurance & the tax treatment of OOP medical spending). On top of that people who really feel abortion is a horrible thing should stop and consider what impact lack of coverage has on abortion really.

    The big lie in my remark referred to “My judgement is that this health bill adds significantly to our long-term fiscal problems” which I think is clear enough and the fundamental dishonesty from your side.

    So this contradicts Megans assertion that the bill takes the ‘low hanging fruit’ of easy spending cuts. So what’s the true story here? You honestly wonder why I dismiss the anti-side as nothing but talking points when you, without a second thought, present totally contradictory assertions.

    The only way #3 is possible is that the much vaunted healthcare bill doesn’t take effect until after well into the next term. Then when HC suckage starts … he’s a lame duck.

    Since the plan is basically Mitt Romney’s what evidence do you have that MA’s experience, which is serveral years old by now, has created a massive amount of HC suckage detracting from his prospects or killing the chances of future Republican governor’s in MA?

  11. Boonton,

    On top of that people who really feel abortion is a horrible thing should stop and consider what impact lack of coverage has on abortion really.

    Yes, I understood that (it’s a point you’ve made in the past), but in the context of a bill that already provides for the “lack of coverage” you for your part don’t seem to admit that a bill that both covers for the birth aspect but not the abortion would actually further limit abortions.

    So this contradicts Megans assertion that the bill takes the ‘low hanging fruit’ of easy spending cuts.

    No it doesn’t. It’s pointing out that the “low hanging fruit” isn’t very big … ergo not contradictory.

    On your last point, … speaking of “contradictory assertions.” The HC bill had to be nationwide or it wouldn’t work … yet MA/only is evidence of … what? Furthermore oddly enough I saw several conservatives noting the expected dismal reception of HC would indeed be very problematic for a Rommney candidacy.

    Is the liberty being infringed the freedom of masochists to buy expensive insurance from companies that will drop them right when they get sick? I’m sure something can be done to help such people.

    Yet providing would require a small change and not a “total revamp” of US healthcare.

    JA,
    Delusional?

    Obama’s plan also includes an important new program for the most vulnerable: uninsured people who can’t get coverage because of major medical problems. It’s intended to provide an umbrella of protection until the broad expansion of coverage takes effect in 2014.

    “the broad expansion” of coverage … not until 2014. Is it your delusion that the second term elections are after 2014?

    Is that interesting? Why is that interesting? I made predictions based on what the bill will do, not on indirect effects that have more to do with sociological factors and lifestyle choices.

    I see. Are you afraid that your predictions #1 and #2 will have no measurable health impact. Well, you’re probably right. The will on the other hand have significant costs.

  12. Mark,

    Is it your delusion that the second term elections are after 2014?

    I wasn’t saying that part was delusional, LOL. I was referring to your insinuation that it’s going to suck so bad that people will vote against Dems. It’s going to soon be as popular as medicaid and medicare.

    I see. Are you afraid that your predictions #1 and #2 will have no measurable health impact. Well, you’re probably right. The will on the other hand have significant costs.

    I assume they will have significant positive measurable health impacts, of course. But obviously there are more factors involved, which is why it makes more sense to talk about direct outcomes rather than indirect outcomes. Unless, of course, you prefer sophistry and rhetoric to good-faith conversation.

  13. JA,
    Look you’re asking for “good faith” conversations. There are reasons to estimate right now that the two interpretations of events have merit, that is your estimation that this is a hard fought victory vs the prediction on the right that this win will turn out to be a Pyrrhic (see for example the MA GOP Senate seat).

    If you’re really looking for “good faith” you need to stop with the “WAAH WAAH” and “LOL you’re delusional” sort of remarks when little of such indications of that reaction are to be found … unless you think that a reasoned explanation that this bill may represent a overstretch is that sort of thing.

    Ms McArdle went on record with her prediction that in 5 years there will be no measure-able impact on US health. You’ve decided there will be effects … but won’t it seems go so far to venture that the effects will be measureable. So, you are willing to spend $1T over a decade and what will likely be a quickly growing entitlement burden for an effect that may not be measurable. And you wonder why some people think this may be an overstretch.

  14. Mark,

    McArdle’s trying to change the subject. The health care bill is designed to cover millions of people who wouldn’t otherwise be covered. It will do that. McArdle doesn’t dispute that but wants to talk about downstream outcomes that are affected by a thousand other variables. She herself mentions the effects getting lost in the statistical noise. Well, why look at outcomes that are swamped in statistical noise then? Why not just look at the direct effects?

    But fine, I’m willing to place a bet on Klein over McArdle any day, even on downstream effects. (Statistical noise could go either way, so I’ll bet on the signal.) Find a measurement that they give specific and different predictions for, and I’ll put a significant wager on it right now.

  15. Yes, I understood that (it’s a point you’ve made in the past), but in the context of a bill that already provides for the “lack of coverage” you for your part don’t seem to admit that a bill that both covers for the birth aspect but not the abortion would actually further limit abortions.

    Actually the bill (and let me know if the latest version has changed this), mandates that policies sold in the exchanges split themselves in two. One side covers abortion (if the company wants to offer that), the other side covers everything else. The subsidies only cover the everything else side and the individual has to write two checks if they want both sides. Contrast this to the status quo with employer provided insurance which is tax subsidized and makes no requirement that abortion not be covered or that if it is it is covered via a seperate policy that is not subsidized.

    No it doesn’t. It’s pointing out that the “low hanging fruit” isn’t very big … ergo not contradictory.

    If the low hanging fruit is not that big then how does the bill foreclose on future efforts to address the deficit? If the fruit is easy to pick but not very large then it couldn’t have made much of a difference in addressing the ‘fiscal crises’ could it?

    On your last point, … speaking of “contradictory assertions.” The HC bill had to be nationwide or it wouldn’t work … yet MA/only is evidence of … what? Furthermore oddly enough I saw several conservatives noting the expected dismal reception of HC would indeed be very problematic for a Rommney candidacy.

    And evidence of a massive repeal effort in MA? Contrary to popular belief, unpopular with Tea Partiers or Repubicans is not the same thing as unpopular with Americans.

    Yet providing would require a small change and not a “total revamp” of US healthcare.

    Providing masochists? Aren’t we already helping them out by not giving them what they want?

    “the broad expansion” of coverage … not until 2014. Is it your delusion that the second term elections are after 2014?

    I’m sorry I just can’t see this upswelling of popular demands that insurance companies be allowed to ditch 40 year old moms who find a lump in their breast or 25 year olds who visit a psychologist once or twice.

    There are reasons to estimate right now that the two interpretations of events have merit, that is your estimation that this is a hard fought victory vs the prediction on the right that this win will turn out to be a Pyrrhic (see for example the MA GOP Senate seat).

    Interestingly the Republican who won the MA Senate seat did not run against MA’s health plan. In fact, to the degree he talked about it at all he seemed to indicate that he was running to protect MA’s health plan. This, of course, was needed to maintain the fiction that Romney’s plan was substantially different from the one that passed.

    Ms McArdle went on record with her prediction that in 5 years there will be no measure-able impact on US health. You’ve decided there will be effects

    Curious. Very curious. YOu’re saying the US gov’t just did a ‘total revamp’ of the health system, the Republicans said it was a total takeover….you predicted that healthcare will be ‘sucky’ because of it….yet you also go along with no measurable impact on US health? If more people have coverage but the health results of the US do not change that would seem to be a net improvement to me and a refutation of the GOP assertion that this bill would cause massive harm.

    We learned what you guys mean by ‘measurable results’ in terms of the stimulus debate. Basically you mean something that you will never accept unless we discover some way to tap into parrell universes where we can keep all variables exactly the same.

  16. JA,

    The health care bill is designed to cover millions of people who wouldn’t otherwise be covered.

    So? They aren’t getting healthcare now? ERs and hospitals don’t turn people away now.

    How about infant mortality rates? They are pretty google-able. What year do you expect any HC related inflection and in what year?

  17. Boonton,

    Interestingly the Republican who won the MA Senate seat did not run against MA’s health plan. In fact, to the degree he talked about it at all he seemed to indicate that he was running to protect MA’s health plan. This, of course, was needed to maintain the fiction that Romney’s plan was substantially different from the one that passed.

    You misunderstand. A number of sites (liberal and conservative) have noted the similarity to the current plan will kill his candidacy. I’m failing to connect that with your remark.

    yet you also go along with no measurable impact on US health

    Hmm, I suggest there will a large measureable negative economic aspect which will lead to a largely unmeasurable loss in healthcare as lost opportunity is a hard thing to measure.

    We learned what you guys mean by ‘measurable results’ in terms of the stimulus debate.

    Ditto. You “guys” actually have graphs demonstrating what the stimulus effect on employment for example would be. Oddly enough none of those predictions have come to pass in fact reality is worse than the predicted “non-stimulus” matter. So either your models suck completely, or the stimulus had a negative effect. Pick (if you take the former of course, note that placing very large bets on poor models was my reason for opposing the stimulus).

  18. So? They aren’t getting healthcare now? ERs and hospitals don’t turn people away now.

    Let’s say someone is prediabetic or actually diabetic. Right now, if they’re uninsured they might not even find out for a few years until something really serious happens and who know how much damage is done in that time?

    Also, take something like hypertension or high cholesterol. An uninsured person might found out he has those by having a heart attack or stroke, while someone who gets regular checkups will get early treatment and possible prevent such a catastrophe.

    Is this really so complicated?

    How about infant mortality rates? They are pretty google-able. What year do you expect any HC related inflection and in what year?

    I have no idea. I’m not sure that there would be much effect on infant mortality, because I assume the most important factor there is simply being in a hospital at and after childbirth. Probably not a great example.

  19. So? They aren’t getting healthcare now? ERs and hospitals don’t turn people away now.

    So your solution is either single payer (gov’t pays for the ER bills individuals can’t) or lawsuits (hospitals putting judgements on people’s houses and jobs)

    You misunderstand. A number of sites (liberal and conservative) have noted the similarity to the current plan will kill his candidacy. I’m failing to connect that with your remark.

    Yet he still remains a front runner in GOP races. No doubt when the primaries start others will start taking swipes at him but get real. The talking point right now is there’s some type of magical difference between the current bill and Romney’s.

    Ditto. You “guys” actually have graphs demonstrating what the stimulus effect on employment for example would be. Oddly enough none of those predictions have come to pass in fact reality is worse than the predicted “non-stimulus” matter.

    This is, in fact, three predictions. One of what unemployment would be without stimulus, one of what it would be with stimulus and the delta or decrease in unemployment caused by stimulus. The first two forecasts are often the most unreliable.

    So either your models suck completely, or the stimulus had a negative effect.

    To conclude the effect was negative you must conclude the ‘without stimulus’ forecast was perfect. Instead of your typical partisan reasons that seek not truth but only cheap rhetorical advantages, what reasons do you have to support the assertion that the ‘without’ forecast was exceptionally good compared to all the others? It would be nice if forecasts were really testable but they typically are not.

  20. JA,
    So … you’re going to claim that diabetes related illnesses will have a dramatic change … when? How much?

  21. I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. I suppose we’d have to wait until 2014 for the program to kick in, then another… I don’t know, 10, 20 years before the effects of early treatment start showing up? But by then we’ll probably have robotic pancreases or some crazy stuff anyway.

    Is this really such a controversial idea, that medical checkups and routine preventative care might have significant positive effects?

  22. JA,
    No the controversial idea is that people who don’t have insurance now will suddenly start having regular checkups and follow routine medical suggestions just because they have been forced to purchase insurance.

  23. Mark,

    Obviously not everybody will, but many will. You understand that not everybody who didn’t have insurance was just too lazy or cheap to buy it, right?

  24. Well if people do purchase insurance but don’t increase their medical care consumption wouldn’t that lower overall insurance premiums in a competitive market where people can switch between different companies in the exchanges?

  25. Boonton,
    I see, arguments for increased health of the populus because more people have access to insurance along side arguments that there will be no increase in consumption. When you complain of inconsistencies on the right you might set your own house in order first.

  26. Actually I’m just trying to make your arguments sensible. If you’re saying that increased coverage won’t result in increased consumption, then premiums will have to fall. If you’re saying coverage will result in increased consumption then you’re admitting that the old status quo was leaving people with sub-optimal medical outcomes (even if that doesn’t result in an immediate drop in the death rate). Your last refuge would be, I think, to try to argue that more coverage means more consumption but not better health because people will use the coverage to buy things that don’t produce much bang for the buck (say expensive non-generic BP medication that is only slightly better than generics combined with modest exercise and diet).

  27. Boonton,
    Your logic is faulty (fawlty? Heh). The point being made is that if there is no increased consumption then the your side’s argument for the healthcare disappears … a point you don’t confront. If on the other hand, there is increased consumption sans increased supply you’re creating shortages. If one argues that this is a discussion of the morality between regulation of shortages by ability to pay vs ability to get political connections … then I’d point out that it seems to me that what I do to earn for myself seems a more ethical way of determining access than political clout. But I digress.

    I’m not disagreeing that there are people who would desire more access to healthcare, i.e., your “sub-optimal medical outcomes”. The argument is that your solution is worse than what a market would supply. Which is why oddly enough that the sorts of things I’ve suggested would help would be to release current practices which hamper the market today … not hamper it more which is what you are supporting.

    The problem is that the solution you propose will make matters worse not better and that econ 101 tells you (and you ignore it) that you are heading for disaster, i.e., introducing price controls/regulation while increasing demand.

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