Reflex: November 7, 2011

Alexander Bergermakes the case for kidney markets. “[T]here aren’t nearly enough saints in the country to tackle the growing waiting list for a kidney. More than 34,000 people joined the waiting list in 2010; fewer than 17,000 received one. Thousands of people die waiting each year. This is a tragedy, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The people waiting for kidneys aren’t dying because of kidney failure; they’re dying because of our failure — without Congress’s misguided effort to ban organ sales, they would have been able to get the kidneys they desperately needed.” Austin’s comment: There is not just one idea of a kidney market, but many. I wrote about one proposal recently that aimed at using market forces to leverage altruistic donation.

House Republicans shoot down hopes for permanent Medicare payment ‘fix’, writes Julian Pecquet. “The American Medical Association had pinned its hopes on the 21-member GOP Doctors Caucus, which the industry group hoped would sell leadership on a permanent “doc fix” paid for with savings from winding down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.” But that didn’t happen. Many members balked at using what they see as “smoke and mirrors” to cover the cost. Aaron’s Comment: This short-term nonsense is going to continue until we can own up to one fact: permanently solving the SGR problem is going to be very expensive. It has to happen, though, as doctors won’t tolerate a massive cut to Medicare reimbursement. I’ve long advocated that disguising the doc-fix as “deficit reducing” wouldn’t fly. Sometimes good things cost money. This is one of those things.

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