Steve was one of those walking contradictions, an intentionally crotchety old dude that I believed stood in front of the mirror every morning to work on his scowl and practice yelling, ‘Hey, you kids get off my lawn,’ but he really was about as nice as could be.
They lived across the street and he took to our son Max. That proved to be a benefit to me because Steve had season hockey tickets at the local university and lived in a house with only females. One or two hockey games a year was plenty for them. So many times, I throw Max up on my shoulders and we’d head over and crawl into Steve’s old Jeep. He loved watching a four-year-old scarfing popcorn as we cheered for the Pioneers.
We always talked a little shop as Steve was a pediatric anesthesiologist. He covered Max when he got his tubes put in and we both had a little fun in pre-op when the versed hit. Industry talk could get his dander up pretty quick. One night as the Zamboni’s rolled, he barked, ‘You know what I say when someone asks me to donate to charity? I tell them I give to charity every stinking day because every day I take care of Medicaid patients. I gave at the office.’
The Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) recently released a study on hypothetical healthcare spending. KFF can be a great source of healthcare data, but sometimes math gets used in really illogical ways.
The study, complete with a great made-for-Twitter headline and a simple little bar chat, says that if private insurance reimbursement were paid instead at Medicare rates that would reduce US healthcare spending by $350 billion.
And if you gave me a billion dollars, I’d have a billion and change.
Why stop at Medicare rates? What would it be if everyone were paid Medicaid rates?
Why stop there? What if everyone were paid in Game Stop shorts? Or chickens?
Yes, yes, I know. KFF is a strong advocate for Medicare-for-All and this is part of the campaign. But it is a big, fat ‘so what’ analysis. Pick a number, any number, and spin the spreadsheet. It will give you a graph. As long as you assume no one has a brain or personal interests or the ability to respond to a such a drastic move, well then, looky there…problem solved.
This would be easy to dismiss, but it is a simplistic number like this that takes root in the halls of Congress and turns into momentum.
Unfortunately, Steve died unexpectedly several years ago, but I thought of him as I was reading this piece. This is not a topic we could have discussed in the presence of a four-year-old or Max would have learned some bad words and my wife would have banned me from hockey games with Steve.