POLICY: Orszag makes the CBO get religion

Somehow last week in the midst of one of the busiest working months of my life I managed to squeeze in a little time with Peter Orszag who’s the new-ish Director of the Congressional Budget Office. Or as he called it the “soon to be Congressional Health Care Budget Office.” Peter is  a true convert to the cult of Wennberg, and so we had a real meeting of the minds. He has started telling his story to all who’ll listen, and given the power of the CBO in Washington, plenty of important people are listening.

Go read his testimony on health care and the budget (PDF) (similar html here) from earlier this week. Pay particular attention to the figures which you can click on directly in the PDF navigation menu—especially the charts on the variance in costs for Medicare recipients by region (#3) and the impact of the current trends on future Medicare costs (#4). If enough politicians pay attention, then the second biggest problem in health care (practice variation) might get addressed at the same time as the first (lack of universal coverage).

He’ll also be having the CBO in future produce some slightly more synopsized and bite-sized reports, but for now there’s more data on their web site and you can subscribe to RSS feeds of their latest reports. I feel a blog coming on….

Meanwhile it won’t surprise you to know that the first hearing on any comprehensive health care reform legislation since 22 June 1994 is happening tomorrow, when the Wyden bill gets a hearing before the Senate Budget committee. If you want a clue as to how it’ll go, the line up on the panel is Len Nichols, Ph.D., Director, Health Policy Program, New America Foundation; Sara R. Collins, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President, Program on the Future of Health Insurance, The Commonwealth Fund and Arnold Milstein, MD,Medical Director, Pacific Business Health Group.

Luckily there were no problems in the health care system between the end of 1994 and the middle of 2007, so it didn’t matter that Congress ignored the issue.

Thank God the lunatics have at least had their charge of that part of the asylum taken away…

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3 replies »

  1. That graph of the relationship between quality and Medicare spending is a doozy!
    It pretty much looking like something from a text book illustrating NO relationship. I wonder how they went about “measuring” that.

  2. I admire what Orszag is tyring to do but he is like a guy screaming at a rock concert. There are going to be alot of other areas that great more immediate fiscal priority/attention (e.g., defense budget, war funding efforts, fixing the AMT, shoring up some of the “sunset” provision in Bush tax cuts) than healthcare even though healthcare is more important in the long-term.

  3. Will your interview with Orszag be available as a Podcast, like the Brent James interview, etc?