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The greatest GI Joe escapes of all time.

The "best" blog in the world?

• If you read only one article on prostate cancer treatments today, make sure it's this one.

• I'm pretty sure I've seen this movie before. And I really hated the ending.

The PPIP program names its investors. But will the banks participate?

I'm very anxious to use this comic in a post. Someone draw a bad line through a graph!

I'm going to spend the night reading about junk food taxes. The life of a blogger ain't nothing but glamour.

By Ezra Klein  |  July 8, 2009; 7:30 PM ET
Categories:  Tab Dump  
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Next: Lucian Bebchuk on the PPIP


Full text (not PDF) of draft Senate HELP bill from Kennedy's committee online for comment by health care wonks:

Posted by: lambert_strether | July 8, 2009 7:51 PM | Report abuse

Appropos of nothing, the greatest GI Joe escape of all time when they escaped ...

Specifically, a cartoon version of the Egyptian afterlife.

Posted by: westofthedc | July 8, 2009 8:37 PM | Report abuse

What Leonhardt doesn't do is explain why IMRT costs 50K per patient. Developing the IMRT technology is surely expensive, but what is the marginal cost of IMRT, assuming we compensated the IMRT inventors for their fixed costs in one lump-sum, instead of in $50K increments per patient?

It's fashionable to wag fingers and say we can't afford universal coverage and high-tech medical care, but I'm not sure that it's true. Dean Baker makes a really important point in his latest article in the Boston Review, and I'd like to know what knowledgeable health care people think of it:

". . .Suppose a family member is diagnosed with a rare and typically fatal form of cancer. She is 80 years old and in otherwise good health. A new drug with no major side effects but an uncertain success rate costs $200,000 for a year’s dosage (the actual price for some newly developed cancer drugs). Should the family struggle to come up with money for the treatment, or alternatively, should an insurance company or the government be forced to pick up the tab? Should treatment be withheld?

This question has no good answers. The decision to allow a family member to die when a possible cure exists would haunt the family for years to come. However, as individuals and as a society, we know that what we can spend on health care has limits. Suppose we spend the $200,000 and the patient dies anyway in 6 months. Is that a good use of money—ours or anyone’s—in a world where poor children are going without decent housing, childcare, or even food everyday?

Now change the story slightly. A year’s dosage costs $200, and the calculation becomes suddenly far less difficult. . .

Reducing the price to $200 is neither slight of hand, nor wishful thinking; it is marginal–cost pricing. . .

[we] will need to provide funding to cover research costs through whatever mechanism of financing is chosen, but this expense is likely to be dwarfed by the savings from marginal–cost pricing for prescription drugs. The amount of patent–supported research that must be replaced would be in the neighborhood of $30 billion a year, while the savings from marginal–cost pricing would almost certainly be more than $200 billion a year. . .

. . .The logic of paying for research upfront rather than tying medical costs to the individual patient makes sense. The same logic applies in other areas of health care. Most tests and scans are expensive because of patent protection, not because the resources actually used in the process are costly. . ."

Posted by: roublen | July 8, 2009 9:44 PM | Report abuse

I did use the comic in a blog post!

Posted by: economistsdoitwithmodels | July 8, 2009 9:45 PM | Report abuse

The comic reminds me of an old health econ joke: If the current rate of health cost inflation continues, by 2050 health will be 100 percent of GDP. Or something like that. Used to be funnier.

Posted by: bhaven | July 8, 2009 10:19 PM | Report abuse

Also re: Dean Baker's article, it seems to me you can achieve the goal, of marginal cost pricing, without cutting the existing drug companies and medical device makers/inventors out of the action.

One way you might do it is to have all experimental, unproven drugs/treatments be sold relatively cheaply, near their marginal cost. Then, once a drug/device company collected evidence of clinical effectiveness / superior outcomes, they would be entitled to a big prize/payout, paid for by the government or out of health care premiums.

Posted by: roublen | July 8, 2009 10:46 PM | Report abuse

I don't understand how the Morgan Stanley transaction is anything new: it looks like a normal CDO-squared to me.

The real question is who is going to buy this stuff.

Posted by: albamus | July 9, 2009 3:59 AM | Report abuse

New "treatment" protocol!

Let's just stop calling it "rationing."

From now on, all time spent in queues shall be known as "watchful waiting."

Posted by: whoisjohngaltcom | July 9, 2009 7:43 AM | Report abuse

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