New York Times editors remind the Republicans that they lost the election.
Postelection polls show that large majorities of voters for both President Obama and Mitt Romney opposed making large Medicare cuts as a way to reduce the budget deficit. And, the fact is, the Obama administration has already pledged to extract more than $1 trillion in savings over the next decade from these programs. There is not much more that can be cut without hurting the most vulnerable Americans. ...NYT
Fiscal responsibility for Republicans, then, means looking for cuts in their own spending first. Given their careless attitude towards the use of our resources for unnecessary military actions, it seems obvious that the bloated military budget should be top of the list for cuts, not health care -- where America's achievements have sunk dramatically compared to other developed countries. Subsidies to the private sector should be another target for cuts.
EJ Dionne makes more sense than any in Congress when he says Democrats -- well, progressives -- need to use their post-2012 election clout to stay tough and demand a realistic deficit deal.
The right thing is to bring back Bill Clinton’s tax rates on the well-off and then have a broad tax reform discussion next year. A similar logic applies to health-care programs, as Jonathan Cohn suggested in the New Republic. Before making big cuts in Medicaid and Medicare, we need to see whether the reforms in the Affordable Care Act can contain medical inflation.
The fiscal cliff creates an enormous opportunity to end an era in which it was never, ever permissible to raise taxes. In the pre-Grover days, conservatives believed passionately in pay-as-you-go government. A tough stand by progressives will make it easier for conservatives to return to the path of fiscal responsibility. ...EJ Dionne, WaPo
And it's crucial that we demand "Obamacare" dig out the existing corruption and bad management in the overall health care system. That alone would make a huge difference in what we are spending for doctors and hospitals and drugs. The New York Times reports this morning on a breakdown in the transition to digital records -- spedifically in the Medicare system.
The use of electronic medical records has been central to the aim of overhauling health care in America. Advocates contend that electronic records systems will improve patient care and lower costs through better coordination of medical services, and the Obama administration is spending billions of dollars to encourage doctors and hospitals to switch to electronic records to track patient care.
But the report says Medicare, which is charged with managing the incentive program that encourages the adoption of electronic records, has failed to put in place adequate safeguards to ensure that information being provided by hospitals and doctors about their electronic records systems is accurate. To qualify for the incentive payments, doctors and hospitals must demonstrate that the systems lead to better patient care, meeting a so-called meaningful use standard by, for example, checking for harmful drug interactions. ...NYT
The rural hospital in the area where I live is a really -- very surprisingly -- good hospital. It recently achieved top status. It's one of the top 100 hospitals in the country. But at least twice during the past decade or so, I've experienced problems originating in its information systems, not just Medicare. In one case a potentially lethal error.
We like to boast about our medical training and our medical gadgetry. But our health care management systems are appalling.