Orszag sets the record straight

ORSZAG SETS THE RECORD STRAIGHT…. Fox News’ Chris Wallace asked OMB Director Peter Orszag this morning if the administration will be “rationing” health care by establishing a commission of doctors and medical experts to oversee medical practices. Orszag, thankfully, called this a “canard” and pointed to the status quo.

“The fact of the matter is, right now, politicians and insurance companies are making decisions,” Orszag explained. “We’re saying, we want doctors to be making decisions.”

Wallace said once these physicians start “making decisions,” they’ll be in the business of telling consumers which medical treatments they can and cannot have. So, Orszag turned the question around: “Do you think that politicians are currently rationing care? Or insurance companies are currently rationing care? There are no set of decisions that this commission would have that is not currently resting with either members of Congress or insurance companies.”

Now, Orszag rejected the idea that the status quo, in fact, “rations” medical care. I disagree with that. But his larger point is fair — if the current system is already rationing care, then the concerns about doctors and medical experts overseeing medical practices would itself be a valuable improvement on the status quo.

Expect to have this come up quite a bit. On “Meet the Press,” David Gregory asked HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius if federal bureaucrats may not want to pay for some medical procedures.

It may not happen to hosts of national news programs much, but in reality, plenty of Americans find that their insurance companies decide not to pay for treatments all the time. In fact, they have a financial incentive to do just that.

Who gave media anchors the idea that insurance companies reflexively approve payments on everything?