Patterico's Pontifications

7/21/2009

Fast Food Fight

Filed under: Crime — DRJ @ 11:47 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The Houston Chronicle has an unusual story about three fast food restaurant workers:

“Two female restaurant workers likely will be charged with assault and theft in connection with an alleged July 13 attack on a male college student at a Richmond McDonald’s, Fort Bend County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Craig Brady said Tuesday.

The planned charges — Brady said the case will be turned over to the district attorney Friday or Monday — grow out of a 9 p.m. incident at McDonald’s on Crab River Road in which 20-year-old Raymond Smith complained he was bitten and fondled.”

Deputy Brady stated the women confessed to what he calls “aggressive flirting” and suggested Smith fabricated his claim to get money from their employer, the McDonald’s restaurant. Quanell X, a spokesman for Smith, said law enforcement has not treated this incident with “sufficient gravity.”

Read the whole thing.

– DRJ

State Medical Associations Oppose ObamaCare

Filed under: Government,Obama — DRJ @ 12:57 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

The State Medical Associations of Texas, Georgia, and other states have broken with the AMA over Obama’s health care plan:

“A group of 17 state medical associations and three specialty physicians groups, led by the Medical Association of Georgia, have also balked at endorsing the legislation, and were drafting a letter last week to circulate on Capitol Hill, according to Congress Daily. Key among the concerns was the public insurance option.”

The Texas group has formed a task force to review the 1000+ page House bill and has already expressed concern about the bill’s “failure to fix Medicare funding formulas, the ‘long-term consequences’ of the government’s plan to offer a public insurance option and a prohibition on physician ownership of healthcare facilities.” The bill also reportedly omits caps on medical liability that have been included in Texas law since 2003.

On a related topic, Allen J. Favish notes the House bill establishes incentives for racial preferences at medical schools.

The Obama Administration may be trying to fast-track healthcare to avoid answering questions about provisions like these, or maybe they think the public just doesn’t care what the bill says. After all, Congress doesn’t read its bills anymore and even Obama admits he’s not sure what it says, even though that hasn’t stopped him from promising what it will do.

– DRJ

What’s the Price of Tomorrow?

Filed under: General — Jack Dunphy @ 11:47 am

[Guest post by Jack Dunphy]

A dear friend recently passed away at the age of 91. He had been in fairly good health until the last year of his life, and he spent his final six months shuttling between emergency rooms, intensive care units, and a convalescent hospital as he battled pneumonia and a MRSA infection. He was even given a pacemaker a few months before he died.

One can envision that had the health-care regime now under consideration in Congress already been in place, my friend would have been denied much of the treatment he received in those final six months. What sense does it make, some would argue, to commit so many costly resources to the treatment of a 91-year-old man? Why not offer medication to keep him comfortable and then allow nature to take its course, freeing those health-care dollars for some more vital patient?

From a strictly economic perspective, why indeed?

My friend’s wife survived him and lives on today at age 90. She still drives but prefers not to if there is someone around to take her on errands, so while her husband was in the hospital, my wife and I would sometimes drive her to visit him. Though confined to his bed and in some discomfort, he was for the most part alert and responsive. The singular joy of his day was the visit with his wife, when she would sit at the edge of his bed and rub his back and tell him of the latest news from relatives and friends. They had been married for 62 years, so there was also a lot of talk about the old times. As they wrapped up their visits, she would tell him she loved him and that she would see him tomorrow. “Love you too,” he would answer, “see you tomorrow.” Finally, as all of ours will, those tomorrows came to an end.

If this monstrosity of a health-care bill becomes law, who will determine, and by what measure will they determine it, that we have consumed our allotment of medical care and are now obliged, for the sake of a healthier nation, to go away and die?

I’m certain my friend and his wife held those last few see-you-tomorrow moments as priceless. Who will put a price on ours?

–Jack Dunphy

The Unbearable Lightness of Ezra Klein (and Jon Chait)

Filed under: General — Karl @ 9:08 am

[Posted by Karl]

Lefties Ezra Klein and Jonathan Chait cannot contain their contempt for Harvard Economics Prof. Greg Mankiw on the cost of Obamacare. As Klein fulminates:

[T]here’s a weird tendency among people to think that very banal comments are very important insights when they come from Greg Mankiw. And this is worse than a very banal comment: It’s disengaged with the debate.

Mankiw’s basic argument is that health-care reform should be better than deficit-neutral. It should be deficit-improving. That is to say, it should bend the curve in the long term. And it should! But what evidence does Mankiw have that it won’t?

In reality, the average person will wonder why we place the burden of proof on the proponent in science, legal proceedings, and so on — but not when it comes to placing one-sixth of the US economy under government control. Nevertheless, Klein presses on with his list of admittedly speculative cost-cutting hypotheses:

There’s the theory that comparative effectiveness review — particularly when combined with a new IT infrastructure that could eventually help guide physician decisions — will cut down on unnecessary treatments and allow us to bring high-spending regions of the country into sync with their low-spending brethren.

There’s the idea that the Independent Medicare Advisory Council will be the locus for a continual process of Medicare reform that will begin to bring down costs in the Medicare program, and also create a sort of “best practices” laboratory where experiments can be attempted and the best efforts can be further developed.

There’s the argument for the public plan, and in particular the public plan with Medicare powers, that implies that a large purchaser in the center of the system could bargain better discounts with providers.

There’s the argument that the health insurance exchange will grow to become the primary insurance market and that as insurers begin competing on grounds of cost and quality — as opposed to risk selection — that efficiencies will emerge and spending will drift downward, and over time, the employer-based market, which is responsible for many of the costly problems in the system, will begin to migrate toward the exchange.

At Corrente, lambert lambastes these speculations on their (lack of) merit from the Left. It would be just as easy to do so from the Right. However, it is simpler to point out that Klein’s arguments for cost-savings — rationing by unelected bureaucrats, arbitrary price-setting through unfair competition from the government, forcing people to buy government-designed insurance in government-created “markets” — are all reasons why public support for a government takeover of our healthcare system is waning every day (most recently evidenced in the USAToday/Gallup and Politico polls). Jonathan Chait manages to one-up Klein by suggesting that Mankiw’s “understanding of American politics is rather shallow.” In reality, the “banal” observation that healthcare reform is stumbling because people do not want to pay sure costs for speculative benefits is exactly what Ezra Klein wrote earlier this month.

–Karl


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