Medicare cuts avoided…world saved…for now.

Phew!

President Barack Obama has signed a bill that temporarily spares doctors from a 21 percent cut in Medicare payments.

One could also say it “temporarily spares” patients from that 21 percent cut. Doctors will lose business, naturally, if they stop taking Medicare patients because of the low pay, but they’ll still have business. Medicare patients will lose doctors, and their health care will suffer.

One could also ask: why only “temporarily?” Why not just leave the cuts out?

But that’s not really the point I want to make. One more paragraph from the story:

The measure delays cuts through the end of November while lawmakers work on a more permanent solution.

What “more permanent solution?” Why don’t they just pay for the service they want the doctors to provide?

Well, because what’s to stop doctors from charging way more than they would, otherwise? We want to pay fairly, but how do we protect ourselves from price increases that wouldn’t happen otherwise?

On the other hand, how do we know we aren’t over-protecting ourselves?

And how can we balance a government-financed patient population, which has far less control over its own care, with a privately-financed population, which might be willing to pay more for scarce services?

The preceding paragraph is a little simplistic — for one thing, even that “privately-financed population” is further removed from Supply and Demand in health care than, for example, people shopping for fruit.

Still. This is the conundrum of government programs. The need to balance paying enough with not overpaying, which means three things: One, somebody has to decide what the prices will be; Two, those decisions will be made more through political influence than through economic reality; and Three, somebody’s going to be unhappy in the end.

You might notice: #3 isn’t any different under a free market system. But under a free market system, you aren’t depending on somebody else to make those decisions for you.

Previously:

(Please support The TrogloPundit’s drive to become the Washington Post’s new “conservative beat” reporter!)

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