Health Care: Let Them Eat Rice Cakes

Three themes here starting with a well discussed one – Matthew Yglesias questions not only Rudy Giuliani’s honesty but also his character. Speaking of dishonesty, it seems that the makers of Lipitor is trying to extend its monopoly power by lying about the side effects of drugs made by its competitors:

The generic version of Zocor, simvastatin, is now much cheaper than Lipitor, leading insurers to press doctors and patients to switch. But Pfizer is not letting its flagship drug go down without a fight. The company has mounted a campaign that includes advertisements, lobbying efforts and a paid speaking tour by a former secretary of the federal Department of Health and Human Services. Pfizer is also promoting a study — whose findings many experts are questioning — that concluded that British patients who switched to simvastatin had more heart attacks and deaths than those who remained on Lipitor.

The third theme starts with an NYTimes oped written by Greg Mankiw who says three popular statements about the poor state of our health care system may be true but are misleading. Mark Thoma says Greg does his best to belittle the health care problem and sweep it under the rug adding:

He should also know that life expectancy from birth, which he is using in his arguments about different death rates for infants and the young, is not the only or even the best way to make life expectancy comparisons (as opposed, to say, the life expectancy at age 30, age 40, etc., i.e. given that you’ve already made it through the infant and young adult years). On obesity, it’s correlated with being poor. Why might that be the case? Yeah, I know, they just don’t have Greg’s self-control. If they did, they’d be skinny and rich, just like him! I was surprised, too, at Greg’s implication that Canadians are too backward to be able to “supply high-calorie foods inexpensively” like we can which is why they have less of a problem with obesity. And some of the arguments like blaming infant mortality on lack of morals rather than lack of access to health care – a key problem for the group he is targeting with his Malthusian moralizing – is a bit, um, surprising. Anyway, you get the picture, it’s bad morals (guns, births, eating too much, etc.), illegal aliens, people who make bad choices and don’t buy insurance (more moralizing). Our people just aren’t as moral as Canadians – we have too many people in certain groups so we look bad in comparison. It’s not the failure of the system to deliver health care to these groups, nope, it’s all those immoral people in the groups.

I’m a little confused as I thought Greg was supporting Mitt Romney who does have a health care plan that is not bat-shit insane. The bat-shit insane plan belongs to Rudy Giuliani who seems to think that the poor have too much insurance, which is why they eat poorly and generally do not take care of themselves. Some of the comments are Mark’s place note that the poor do not have the choices the rest of us have – as in shopping at Whole Foods rather than Albertson’s and eating sushi rather than Big Macs. But aren’t rice cakes generally inexpensive? Yes, I have the GOP health care theme for 2008: Let Them Eat Rice Cakes!