Friday, July 24, 2009

Orzag and Public Choice theory

The Wall Street Journal has an article profiling Peter Orzag, the White House budget director:
The battle heated up in June, when Mr. Orszag visited Capitol Hill to discuss health care with a small group of House Democrats. The meeting started well, with one lawmaker after another echoing his message that spending controls were critical to any health-care overhaul, according to two administration officials.

Then one member said her top priority was winning higher payments for oxygen suppliers, the officials say. Mr. Orszag was taken aback. Officials had been trying for years to cut payments to suppliers of oxygen and other medical equipment, which critics say are inflated. Yet when a new competitive bidding process was set to take effect last year, industry supporters in Congress were able to delay the plan. They are still fighting to block changes.

"One of the reasons we currently have such disjointed and skewed incentives is that we have an excessively political process," Mr. Orszag said in an interview.

So the solution to disjointed and skewed incentives causes by an excessively political process is to increase the role of the government in health care? I cannot figure out what the logic is to this argument.

It is an interesting article about one of the big players in the changing of health care policy. He reminds me a lot of the very bright Keynesian economists of the 1960s, who were sure that they could solve the economy's problems if only they did not have to worry about the politics that goes with government spending, regulating, and taxing.

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