Linked and Loaded Tuesday

Links to what I’ve been reading.

Sarah Kliff looks over the National Health Expenditure report:

The Obama administration has just published this year’s report and, on the surface, there’s a lot to celebrate. After years of outstripping the rest of the economy, health care costs are now growing at the exact same rate as the rest of the gross domestic product. Over the past two years, in fact, health care costs have grown more slowly than any other point in the past five decades, according to the report, parts of which are published in the journal Health Affairs. They rose 3.8 percent in 2009 and 3.9 percent in 2010

Harold Pollack opines on the gap between knowledge of treatment types and our collective actions over national drug policy:

The lack of solid research support for such interventions is striking—as is the lack of demand among policymakers for such evidence before sinking impressive resources into further supply-side interdiction efforts. The United States now incarcerates more people for drug offenses than Western Europe incarcerates for all crimes. We don’t get a lot of value in return. We have long waiting lists in many places for methadone maintenance and other treatment interventions. Congress has reinstated the ban on federally funded syringe exchange.

Stephen Budiansky emerges from his cave to blog about insurance and Mitt Romney’s desire to fire people:

But what left me marveling was not Romney’s cluelessly echoing the very charges against his performance at Bain Capital, but rather his obliviousness to the fact that any firing that goes on in the health insurance business is done by the insurance companies, not consumers. After all, everyone wants to fire their health insurance company, usually while listening to the same Kenny G number for the 132nd time on hold waiting to have someone in Bombay swear they have no record of their claim. That’s hardly the point when the insurers hold all the cards.

Brad Plumer wonders if a trade war is looming over European airline carbon taxing, but then asks whether it’s even good policy:

Since U.S. airlines can’t exactly boycott Europe — it’s far too lucrative a market — they’ve started hiking their ticket fares to pay the carbon price. (The new rule could add an estimated $15 to $57 to the cost of a flight from New York to London.) The Obama administration, however, appears to be contemplating a more forceful response. According to Reuters, one option under discussion would be for the United States to slap a retaliatory fee on any European airlines that want access to U.S. airports.

So this could get ugly in short order. But lost in all the squabbling is an underlying question: Is the airline fee actually a good policy?

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