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Bending the Health Care Spending Cost Curve: Matt Miller Gets It Wrong

I would have expected him to know better. I'm disappointed.

Matt Miller:

Wait! Paul Ryan has a point: Put this numbers game aside, however, and you still have the multitrillion-dollar point: In any other wealthy nation, a Ryan-sized voucher would more than suffice to ensure high-quality health care for seniors.... If you’re with me so far, the Democratic case on Medicare (as well as the GOP’s case last election) is therefore caught between two claims that can’t both be true: (1) we spend much more on health care than anybody else without better results; and (2) if we cut the growth of this spending to below the rate of GDP growth, we’d have to curtail Americans’ access and quality of care...

It depends on how we cut the rate of growth of health care spending. We can try to bend the health-care cost curve smart--computerization of medical records, diminishing the power of specialists to reward themselves in princely fashion, evidence-based medicine, accountability. We can try to bend the health-care cost curve stupid--avoiding delivery system reform, providing insurance companies with mammoth additional opportunities to game the system for immense profit by creating and exploiting adverse selection in new ways, depriving low-income people of the power to purchase health insurance and praying for the market efficiency fairy to come and rescue the health-care sector.

Paul Ryan's plan for the abolition of Medicare as we know it is an attempt to bend the health-care cost curve stupid. And it is indeed the case that cutting the growth of health-care spending in the Ryan way is highly likely to curtail Americans' access to and quality of health care.

Matt should have talked to Henry Aaron. Henry would have explained to Matt that he really shouldn't call the Ryan plan "premium support", and why the Ryan plan is unlikely to be part of any good solution.

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