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This Week's Think Tank

1) Families USA offers up 10 reasons to support health-care reform. The public plan is only one of them, and not the most compelling.

2) The Center for Budget and Policy Priorities outlines the five key questions for the new deficit estimates.

3) A comprehensive look at whether America really has the best health care in the world.

4) Is America's low life expectancy the health-care system's fault? (Short answer: probably not.)

5) Cheap doughnuts and expensive broccoli: the effects of relative price changes on obesity. This paper is not optimistic on the likely impact of even a 100 percent tax on junk foods.

By Ezra Klein  |  August 24, 2009; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  Think Tank  
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Comments

"Families USA offers up 10 reasons to support health-care reform. The public plan is only one of them."

I've seen this line repeated several places now. It's a list of 10. Of course the public plan is "only one." What do you expect them to do, list it five times to get across how important it is?

Posted by: cog145 | August 24, 2009 10:39 AM | Report abuse

In the Preston & Ho paper you cited (as item #4), these were the two points that resonated with me:

"We conclude that the low longevity ranking of the United States is not likely to be a result of a poorly functioning health care system." [the 'short answer']

"Evidence that the major diseases are effectively diagnosed and treated in the US does not mean that there may not be great inefficiencies in the US health care system. A list of prominent charges include fragmentation, duplication, inaccessibility of records, the practice of defensive medicine, misalignment of physician and patient incentives, limitations of access for a large fraction of the population, and excessively fast adoption of unproven technologies. [...] And many of the documented inefficiencies of the US health care system add to its costs rather than harm patients."

Are any current reform proposals addressing the issues raised?

Posted by: rmgregory | August 24, 2009 11:17 AM | Report abuse

A suggestion for next week's think tank:

Joe Stiglitz on the need for government in the face of market failure
http://www.tobinproject.org/twobooks/pdf/New_Perspectives_Ch1_Stiglitz.pdf

It gets at the big picture problems that Krugman referenced in today's op-ed, and that I think drive most of the anti-health reform sentiment that's so easily whipped up despite the compelling case for reform.

Posted by: jcisternino | August 24, 2009 11:47 AM | Report abuse

Ezra,
I would love if you could flesh out some specifics on "junk-food bans". I.E. how do you legally describe a junk food compared to a traditionally prepared food. Is Brie a junkfood due to its high fat content, etc.

from reading many of the food policy canon (Pollan, Nestle, etc.) it seems to me that one of the real, but hard to pin down culprits is the chemical processing of foods not simply the cheapness of food, and if there were a way to define processing, then you could tax the number of processed ingredients in a food product, so that Go-Gurt would be taxed more than traditionally prepared yogurt.

anyway, this seems to be a really tricky area and I would love to hear what you have thought or learned in your reporting.

Posted by: brandow | August 24, 2009 11:51 AM | Report abuse

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