Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Nevermind, Repeal HCR

Ezra Klein has a post begging us to remember the story of Deamonte Driver when we think of the plight of the uninsured. For those unfamiliar with Deamonte's tragic story, Deamonte was a 12 year old who passed away several years ago as an abcess in his tooth which then spread to his brain, multiple operations and $250,000 later Deamonte died from what could have been solved by a routine tooth extraction. The only problem with Ezra's plea is that Deamonte was covered under medicaid and area dentists that accept medicaid are few and far between. Medicaid is crap and health care reform is expanding it. What we should be doing enabling people to buy catastrophic coverage to protect them from a medical bankruptcy, and providing cash support to cover the deductible for those who are lower income. What if Deamonte's mother could have walked into a dentist's office and said that she was prepared to pay the $100 for a tooth extraction there on the spot, the dentist wouldn't have to wait six months to get reimbursed by medicaid? My guess is that Deamonte would be alive. Ezra Klein has been a tireless advocate for the uninsured and has brought a lot of light to the health care debate, but this is a post that he will forever regret as it is beyond stupid.

I don't think we should actually repeal HCR, but if we are creating insurance exchanges and then also subsidizing the purchase of insurance, why have medicaid? Or at least why not reform medicaid away from this centrally planned price setting model to one that is cash based. Give people a health debit card. Something along the lines of Marty Feldstein's proposal.

Update: I just reread Ezra's post and it still totally blows my mind. He owes his readers an apology. This is the type of error that gets right wingers nominated for stupidest person alive by Brad DeLong.

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