Good Policy from the Bush administration

Robert Waldmann

OK now that I have your attention, the policy is publicly funded primary care in public clinics staffed by federal employees (including the MDs). This is an excellent policy which provides care for the uninsured and reduces health care spending, because then they don’t have to go to emergency rooms then declare bankruptcy. So says the notoriously lefty Wall Street Journal (news pages but still the WSJ)
via Atrios of course.

Details and explanation of why this makes me praise Bush II after the jump.

Click the link for a serious description. I want to cut and past a patient testimonial

O’Delia Mandrell, 57 years old, said she got “pretty desperate” last year and went to the center for the first time. The former Navy reservist won’t receive full health benefits until she turns 60, and said she had to quit working other jobs because of a virus that has weakened her body. Doctors think it may be Lyme disease.

“They haven’t charged me a dime and really work with me 100%,” she said.

Warning, your milage may differ. Typically there are fees on a sliding scale based on income starting at $20 a visit.

Now how much does this cheap care cost the country ?

A new report by researchers at George Washington University estimated that additional funding for centers in the House bill would save the health-care system $212 billion to $251 billion over the next decade, in part by reducing the number of visits to hospitals and more highly paid private doctors.

One of the toughest information gathering challenges I have ever faced was the challenge to find a good Bush administration policy initiative. The fact that the challenge came from Andrei Shleifer, who is uhm not a lefty, made it especially interesting. So now I read

“Former President George W. Bush doubled financing for the centers, bringing their number to 1,200 nationwide.”

Another example would be HUD adopting “housing first,” that is not so tough love for the homeless based on the idea that the homeless would be better off if we just gave them apartments (even if they are still abusing substances).

The point is that public assistance in the USA is so insanely stingy and punitive that even the Bush administration made major progress here and there by reducing the stinginess and punitiveness.