Involving: Paul Ryan and his budget assumptions, why the US needs more medicare, a question of antitrust, China does a shuffle on the same spot, and unemployment numbers show (some) improvement.

Good morning

The headlines:

  1. Paul Ryan.

    Link: look who’s back in the news.

    Paul Ryan is back with a budget that he says will balance within 10 years, “assuming that Obamacare gets repealed”. And “instead of growing spending at 4.9%” annually, “we grow spending 3.4%”. And these INCREASES in spending result in a $5 trillion CUT, he says. So, in other words, the cut is the hypothetical difference between what the US could spend and what the US could spend. And I haven’t mistakenly committed a grammar error in that statement.

    Neither have I arrived at the question of Obamacare.

    After spending some time thinking about it – and after reading that article in TIME – I’m not so sure that privatising medicare/Obamacare/what-you-will is such a good idea. If the goal here is to get Americans the best and most affordable health plan – then is neo-liberalist free-market policy really the best option?

    On the one hand, the might of the Healthcare Industry. On the other hand, sick people. And let’s be honest – the theory that “if one hospital charges too much, then everyone will just start using other hospitals” doesn’t apply. When you’re dying, you visit the nearest hospital, not the cheapest one. And when you look at the wealth of procedures and medications and tests you can get – how is that information ever going to be disseminated and absorbed by the general public? It’s informational asymmetry at its best/worst depending on whether you’re a healthcare executive or a pleb.

    To me, this seems like one of those situations where the word Antitrust is appropriate. It may not be traditional – but what is a monopoly if not a situation where the buyer/consumer has their terms dictated by the seller? And given that Medicare gets to regulate medical charges as a measure of cost-coverage – it seems to me that what America needs is more Medicare, not less.

    The solution, then, is not to create a voucher system. The alternative is to offer a governmental medical scheme which gives basic benefits; which Americans can join, and for which they should pay appropriate medical aid premiums. It will force private medical insurers that wish to offer better benefits to negotiate better rates with medical providers. And those that can’t will fail; leaving those that can in an even better position to negotiate better rates.

    What Ryan is suggesting sounds protectionist to the Healthcare Industry. And that’s because it probably is – especially given that government-healthcare only pays hospitals for the coverage of cost*.

    Come up with a new budget, sir. Be real.

    *Note: “cost” here includes all the overheads, salaries and bonus remuneration of executives of hospitals, etc. We’re talking here about the limitation of supernormal profits…

  2. Doing the China Shuffle.

    Link: Or is it the sidestep?

    China is reshuffling its ministries for “improvement”, involving a split in the Ministry of Railways, and “more power” for the Food and Drug regulator.

    I realise that it’s news in the sense that it’s new, and recently so. But apart from that, whether you have a single Ministry of Railways, or both a Ministry of Railway Administration and a Ministry of Railway Operation, you’re just talking about branding.

    Not underlying product.

  3. US Job Growth.

    Link: a figurative revision.

    There has been a “surge” of US job growth since January, after you take into account a revision of January’s job figures downward.

    Also this line:

    “The decline in unemployment reflected both a gain in employment and an increase in people leaving the labor force. The participation rate, or the share of working-age people in the labor force, dropped to 63.5 percent, matching the lowest since September 1981, from 63.6 percent.”

    Ah statistics.

That’s all for now.

Have a good day.