Peter Orszag Conferred With British Prime Minister On How To Cut U.S. Health Care
April 24, 2009 • 4:14PM

On June 3, 2008, the Cabinet of British Prime Minister Gordon Brown held a session on how U.S. health care can be cut, with a presentation by Peter Orszag, then Director of the Congressional Budget Office, and today Director of the Office of Management and Budget for the Presidency. The focus involved deploying "behavioral economics" to coerce physicians and patients to accept new "behaviors" and "norms," in which less care is given, and people are told to practice "well being."

This is in line with Orszag's lifelong career path, pursuing Brutish policies of imposing austerity, for which he trained at the London School of Economics, at its Center for Government Performance, in the 1990s.

Orzag titled his London seminar speech, "Presentation to Prime Minister's Strategy Unit—Health Care: Capturing the Opportunity in the Core Fiscal Challenge Facing the United States." Orszag said that "excess cost growth" in Medicare (for elderly) and Medicaid (for poor, uninsured) must stop. He presented a map of the United States, illustrating that the annual cost per Medicare recipient varies from state to state, so it all must be reduced to the lowest level. "High-spending" regions must cut out "excess" medical procedures. 5% of Medicare recipients are using up 43% of Medicare expenditures, usually in the last six months of their lives, so this must be cut. Their dying earlier will save money. Since that time, Orszag has posited that $700 billion can be eliminated out of $2.1 trillion spent on health care in the U.S.

Orszag's London presentation was part of a series of "strategy" seminars which the Gordon Brown Cabinet holds. Recently, Richard Thaler, the University of Chicago Nutty Professor of Behavioral Science and Economics, who is part of the Orszag network, gave a seminar on the topic, "Is Nudging Still Relevant in the Post-Crisis World?" Thaler's book "Nudge: Improving Decisions about Health, Wealth and Happiness," is co-authored with Cass Sunstein, another University of Chicago kook professor, who is now serving in the White House as adviser to Orszag's OMB. The British website describes the Thaler/Sunstein approach as "libertarian paternalism", addressing, "how in the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression, behavioral economics can help...", meaning manipulate people to screw themselves. The British Cabinet website for these presentations is www.cabinetoffice.gov.uk/strategy/seminars/archive.aspx