12 October 2010

What I'm reading this morning

Pediatrician and economist Aaron Carroll over at the Incidental Economist cites some interesting data which dispute the popular myth that Canadian patients and doctors are fleeing their health care system for the US' health care.  In fact, there has recently been a net migration of physicians from the US into Canada, a fact which surprises me but given the relative population sizes perhaps shouldn't.

via Health Reform Watch:  HHS Grants $727 Million To Community Health Centers.  This money is funded out of $11 Billion allocated in the much-derided PPACA (health care reform law) for construction and expansion of CHCs, and is on top of $2 Billion allocated for that purpose in the ARRA (Stimulus act).  We have a new three-story CHC going up down the block from our hospital, replacing a much, much smaller older clinic.  Given how overburdened they are with underserved patients, this may have a great effect increasing access to care in our community.

The Hill's healthcare blog says a preliminary decision on the lawsuit filed by states Attorneys General against the PPACA is expected by Thursday.  Most observers expect the judge to allow the suit to move forward, though it may be narrowed in scope a bit. Talking Points Memo has a round up of all the active lawsuits against the Health Care Reform Law.

via, xkcd: Pumpkin Carving.

Pumpkin Carving

Rand Paul, ophthalmologist and nutjob candidate for Senate in KY, can't quite decide how he feels about Medicare.  He's called for a fix to the SGR and at the same time suggested substantial increases in out-of-pocket costs for Medicare beneficiaries.  Last night in a debate, he seemed to suggest means testing Medicare, and his opponent pounced.  It probably won't make a difference.  

via Balloon Juice, apparently the Economy is Just Fine, Never Mind All the Fuss:
Pay on Wall Street is on pace to break a record high for a second consecutive year, according to a study conducted by The Wall Street Journal.
Oh, well. Problem solved.  You're welcome.

This is depressing: apparently GM's been lying about the Volt, their new electric car.  Promoted as all-electric drive and capable of 230 mpg, it appears that it's actually good for about 37 mpg and about 30 miles of electric-only operation, and the gas engine does power the wheels. So it's basically a bigger, less efficient plug-in version of the Prius.  OK, I guess, but way way short of the hype. 

This is not to be missed.  Colbert tears apart Republican Rich Iott, who wore a Waffen SS uniform as part of a Nazi-re-enactment hobby.

Best line: Iott said his Nazi reenactment was simply "a father-son bonding thing." Colbert said: "That's right. Fathers bond with their sons in all kinds of ways. Building a boat, fixing the car, solving the Jewish problem."


  1. I'm an American whi migrated to Canada in 2004. I became a citizen in 2009.
    I live in a small coastal community in British Columbia. I love the medical care here. We don't have a big hospital but the local acute care hospital is well-equpped and staffed with able and compassionate people. For specialists we go into Vancouver. (A ferry ride away.)
    I'm 68 now, so having a great GP is very comforting.
    When I lived in the US, I also had access to wonderful doctors and nurses but the cost of insurance was rapidly approaching prohibitive.
    Here the insurance for a couple is $102 per month. No matter how tough things get, at least decent medical care isn't something I have to worry about.

  2. What's wrong with means-testing Medicare? If someone can afford cigarettes and an iPhone, then that person has about $200/month that could go towards healthcare. Or would it be unfair to require someone who wishes to spend my tax money to spend his own money first?


  3. Felix,

    First, Medicare is not exactly supported by *your* tax dollars. Current beneficiaries are receiving benefits which they contributed to during their working lives. Which is why it's an entitlement. You are paying in to support your future benefits, at least in theory.

    One POLICY-based argument against means testing it from a political point of view is that the promise was made to Americans that if they paid into medicare it would be there for them, and so it would represent something of a bait and switch. Higher income folks paid into it for their entire lives and then receive less of the benefit. Is that fair? It may depend whether you view medicare as a pay as you go (current working generation supporting the current retirees) or it's a prepaid insurance plan (which the trust fund concept implies). It's complicated -- and it's a fair debate, for those politicians brave/foolish enough to engage it.

    The POLITICAL argument against means testing is that it could be used as a back door to dismantling the program. Medicare's popularity is due to the fact that it's universal. If means testing is introduced, it likely gets expanded over subsequent years, due to budgetary pressures, and ultimately it becomes a much smaller program targeted only to the poor. Some people on the right would very much view that as a desirable outcome. Those of us who view the universality of medicare as a key feature will oppose it for that reason.

    Finally, bear in mind that I was making fun of Paul for the rookie mistake of saying something terribly unpopular in an election campaign and then trying like hell to run away from it, in addition to his general policy incoherence.

  4. The link to the Chevy Volt story is broken; it links back to the previous story on Wall Street salaries. I think the story you were looking for was http://www.luxist.com/2010/10/11/41-000-chevy-volt-draws-controversy-for-engineering-claims/ .


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