Browsing the blog archivesfor the day Sunday, August 31st, 2014.


The Bad News About the Good News

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Obama Administration

Paul Krugman is almost giddy about new Medicare numbers.

Health spending has slowed sharply, and it’s already well below projections made just a few years ago. The falloff has been especially pronounced in Medicare, which is spending $1,000 less per beneficiary than the Congressional Budget Office projected just four years ago.

$1,000 less per beneficiary than projected just four years ago?Wow.

You’ll remember a few years ago the entire Right was marching around chanting that Medicare and Social Security were about to go broke (still one of my favorite posts). It was never true about Social Security but there was real concern about Medicare. But last I heard Medicare’s sell-by date had been pushed way into the future. There is no looming Medicare worry.

First, our supposed fiscal crisis has been postponed, perhaps indefinitely. The federal government is still running deficits, but they’re way down. …

… Second, the slowdown in Medicare helps refute one common explanation of the health-cost slowdown: that it’s mainly the product of a depressed economy, and that spending will surge again once the economy recovers. That could explain low private spending, but Medicare is a government program, and shouldn’t be affected by the recession. In other words, the good news on health costs is for real.

Krugman goes on to say that a lot of these savings are the result of Obamacare, and this shows us that providing health care for all Americans — as other industrialized nations somehow manage to do for their citizens — is not an impossible dream that will drive the country into fiscal ruin.

This takes me to the bad news — about the only people who are going to hear about this are us progressives. Not only will most Americans continue to be unaware of it; the Right will continue to push the idea that the only way to save Medicare is to cut it, or privatize it, or raise the eligibility age to 90, or whatever. And at the same time they’ll tell voters that Obama cut money from Medicare to pay for Obamacare.

Because that’s how we roll.

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