I’m not much of a consumer of Hood’s editorials as he has been writing the same five or six columns over and over again for many years. But since the North Carolina Medical Journal decided to publish his latest bromide, I decided to give it a read.
Hood concedes in his article that some health reform critics have been “intemperate, inexact, or exaggerated.” I’m assuming he would categorize the above sign as “intemperate.”
Admittedly, I’m being snarky when I say that Hood accuses Republicans of lying. He doesn’t say bad things about Republicans because he’s libertarian, which is apparently a fancy word for Republican.
Instead he accuses Democrats of lying for making claims that have been made often and loudly by health reform opponents.
He begins by noting that policy analysts do not think that prevention will save much money. The problem is that many prevention programs are expensive but don’t inspire much adherence. I would add that there are cost-effective prevention programs, but Hood is correct that a huge investment in prevention is not going to bring down costs.
The larger point is that tea party activists at every health care town hall I attended screamed at the presenting politician that the only way to save money in health care is to invest in prevention. Sen. Richard Burr often recites the point that prevention will save money. In fact, it’s a claim he makes about his own health care legislation. Republicans in the Senate held an entire hearing about how prevention will save money.
In opening the hearing, Sen. John Ensign said:
What this hearing is going to focus on is one of the best ways that we can control costs and in fact make health care available for a lot more people if you bring the cost down and doing that through encouraging healthy behaviors.
Hood also criticizes supporters of reform for claiming that cost shifting is a major driver of health spending. Again, that’s one of Sen. Burr’s favorite talking points.
In April, 2008, Sen. Burr told the Heritage Foundation:
We believe very strongly that there’s $200 billion annually of cost-shifting that goes on in health care. That’s $200 billion that doesn’t go to the delivery of care.
The most disingenuous part of Hood’s column is that he refuses to criticize conservatives, even though it is often Republicans pushing the misrepresentations about health reform that he finds most repugnant. Or perhaps Hood is not being disingenuous, just inexact.