Dollars ≠ Doctors

A second mention of The Daily Show in two days.  From Stop Being Poor by Kevin D. Williamson:

The fact will not occur to the sort of people who watch The Daily Show, but the persistent lack of access to good health care among poor people in the United States is evidence more for the case of conservative health-care reformers than for Barack Obama and the cruelly misnamed Affordable Care Act. Specifically, it is evidence that we have not learned the critical lesson of Medicaid: Appropriating a certain amount of money and labeling it “health care for the poor” is not the same thing as providing poor people with access to doctors, hospitals, and medicine. It is easy to move money from one pocket to another, which is how we manage to spend a figure approaching a half-trillion dollars per annum on Medicaid with very little to show for it in terms of better health outcomes for poor people. … We spend the money, but we do not get the health care.

The underlying fact here is: Dollars ≠ Doctors. … injects more money into the chase after the same supply of goods and services, which is a recipe for price inflation rather than one for expanded coverage. (Medicaid) is a terrible program from the providers’ point of view, which is why medical professionals who have a choice increasingly refuse to take on Medicaid patients. Subsidized access to a doctor who categorically refuses to see you is of no benefit to poor people who need medical treatment. One of the critical shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act is that it doubles down on this folly: Its byzantine architecture of subsidies and mandates does not add to the supply of medical goods and services, and in fact probably will reduce that supply as it encourages owners of both human and financial capital to invest their resources elsewhere…

Which is to say: The only real solution to health-care poverty is for people to stop being health-care poor. The solution to relative scarcity is relative abundance. Market-oriented health-care reforms, such as opening up narrow state-regulated health-insurance markets to national (even better: global) competition would draw more resources into health insurance and, more important, into health care itself…

Food stamps did not make food plentiful and cheap; more farmland, better irrigation systems, Monsanto lab geeks, and GPS-enabled combines did thatMoving money around, whether the pot says “health care” or “education,” does not expand wealth, wealth being the available supply of goods and services. Mike Markkula, who was rich enough to be retired at 32, could have paid an extra $250,000 in taxes in 1977 — something closer to “his fair share” as President Obama might put it — or he could have given $250,000 to charity. Instead, he invested $250,000 in the two-man firm of Apple…

I would be very surprised indeed if there were a single charitable organization in the world that had done as much to help people stop being poor as the New York Stock Exchange has.

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