Wednesday, November 16, 2005

jfwwe smackdown!

So, Tom has written a critique of my post about Krugman's column about the doughnut hole. Some things to keep in mind: Tom (a) has approximately the same basic values about the socially just and good as I do, (b) knows more about the general issues about insurance pricing than I do, (c) knows more about the specific issues about the plan than I do, and (d) has thought more about all this than I have. For that matter, he also (e) has more money than I do, (f) is married, (g) has ridiculously adorable kids, and (h) is taller. At some point, one has to recognize when one is probably arguing the Flying Spaghetti Monster side in a debate, even if one doesn't understand quite how.

Still, given that history has proven amply that I am no lover, I might as well be a fighter. However, I don't want to offer a counterargument. That would, after all, require considerable contemplation and, worse, work. Instead, I want to offer a bet. A beer, say, to be settled five years from now.

Understand that there are basically four parts to the "template" of the Medicare prescription drug plan:
(1) the first deductible (to $250)
(2) the first coverage ($251-$2850, 75% coverage)
(3) the second deductible ("the doughnut hole," $2851-$5100)
(4) the second coverage ($5101+, 95% coverage)
My wager is that when people of the Rational Liberal stripe are talking about this bill five years from now, one part will be regarded as a bigger mistake than the others. And it won't be (3). It will be (4).

(No, this is not me just choosing a number other than 3 at random. This is based on my belief that, at the end of the day, I may well have underestimated the pathology of the doughnut hole, but the greater pathology remains the American refusal to discipline drug prices through any of the means other countries do. I could be wrong about what implications this will ultimately have for the Medicare plan, but, spiritedly, I'm willing to bet on it.)


Tonya said...

You forgot to mention that Tom drives a BMW, is a fabulous cook, and is not socially awkward.

jeremy said...

Yes! All three of those are true as well! Now I feel sort of like a Flying Spaghetti Monster who can't, in actuality, even fly.

Tom Bozzo said...

Tonya, that's very naughty. Suzanne and the kids mask my social awkwardness to a remarkable degree.

Jeremy, you're provisionally on, though it may take a (non-critical) post or two to identify all the time bombs and Trojan horses in the legislation and establish some criteria to score the eventual Terrible Mistake.

As there would seem to be nearly endless economic and sociological angles to pursue, I was thinking we should try to get a paper out of it.

jeremy said...

There are various problems with the identification of the Terrible Mistake. Especially if one takes the view that problems with (3) would be easier for subsequent legislation to fix than problems with (4). Old people being numerous and disproportionately likely to vote, partly why they get the plan in the first place.

Tom Bozzo said...

I accept the wager. I made some comments, mainly intended to clarify victory conditions without totally rewriting of the terms or excessive trash talking, over here.