White House health summit 11:17 a.m.

White House health summit 11:17 a.m.
  —Sen. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma just wrapped up a few minutes ago. Focus: “cost containment.” (This was introduced as “our framing statement” by Mitch McConnell. McConnell devoted his remarks to opinion polls, to make an argument basically that all Dems shd just give up and go home.)

Coburn, saying that one out of three health care dollars does not go to making people well or to keeping people from getting sick, says that cost is the main obstacle to health care. He also claims, somewhat less solidly, that “the government” “directs” “over 60 percent of health care” in the U.S.

Coburn is all for incentives–“creating an incentive to reward” good health practices. Presumably good health is not in itself enough of an incentive; financial gain has to be included. Maybe some grain of truth in that. Laudably, Coburn also recommends that the school lunch program and the food stamp program should incentivize healthful eating. Some details will help, but the basic idea is good.

Then there’s that “tort system” emphasis. Coburn, a physician himself, if predictably not in favor of litigation. He seems to follow the line that medical malpractice premiums are entirely the result of malpractice lawsuits.

Once again: Some evidence would be helpful. Some close analysis. Here is a starting question: In the numerous states which have passed anti-tort legislation, HAVE MALPRACTICE PREMIUMS EVER GONE DOWN?

(Warning:: I already know the answer to this one.)

It might be illuminating to try to compute, with exact dollar figures, how much our insurance companies are spending on lobbying and related political activities, each year, to bring about “tort reform” on the state-by-state level. Then we cd compare those figures to the dollar amounts (actually) forked out by the companies, as the result of successful lawsuits or out-of-court settlements.

Then we cd compare both to the health care costs of rising malpractice premiums.

More later . . .

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