Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Cutting

The in-depth detailing of the Obama deficit plan is probably best left to others, but I’d like to think I have a fair amount of knowledge about his health care plans. They’re interesting, and they amount to intensifying the old plans. Here’s the bullet-point summary:
Directs the Independent Payment Advisory Board to hold cost growth in Medicare to GDP plus 0.5 percent rather than GDP plus 1 percent. To make that achievable, IPAB gets new powers, including the ability to restructure Medicare’s insurance so it pays differently for treatments of different value. Also shortens the patent on biologic drugs from 12 years to seven years, implements the recommendations from the National Governors Association working group on Medicaid, and does a few more things. Total savings: $480 billion.

I’m guessing the “recommendations” on Medicaid amount to massive cuts, which is really awful. But the rest is really good stuff—strengthening the Independent Payment Advisory Board is a necessary correction to the weakness of the original health care bill and shortening patents on drugs is well worth doing. It’s not quite as far as I’d like to go—I hope the Obama administration is thinking about how to bypass the truculent states on health care reform—but the proposal shows an ability to turn a negative into a positive.

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