JHU professor: Critics of Obamacare costs ignore waste of current system

James Burdick, a former transplant surgeon and a professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins University's School of Medicine, defends the Affordable Care Act—popularly referred to as Obamacare—in an op-ed piece published today by The Baltimore Sun.

In his article, titled "We Can Afford Obamacare," Burdick argues that inefficiencies in the current health care system lead to billions of dollars (perhaps hundreds of billions of dollars) in wasteful spending, spending that the Affordable Care Act has the potential to reduce significantly. "Who's against health care reform savings?" Burdick asks. "Tapping into thoughtless anti-government sentiment, the health care businesses and other supporters of the wealthy minority are funding defamatory advertisements and holding Republican members of Congress hostage to threats of lost campaign donations."

Conservatives who shut down the government two weeks ago claim to be defending against the cost excesses of Obamacare, but they're neglecting to address the vast inefficiency in the current system that is in such desperate need of reform. Even if their professed concerns about the budget are to be taken as the actual cause of the debt-limit showdown, the central fallacy here is to simply accept the bloated, wasteful current national health care budget as necessary and figure that it must be increased correspondingly to pay for those Americans who obtain coverage under the law. That logic rests on the uninformed assumption that the U.S. must continue to pay twice as much for health care (for many fewer citizens covered) as any other developed country. That presumption is false.

George Liebmann, volunteer executive director of the Calvert Institute for Policy Research in Baltimore, authors a Sun counterpoint to Burdick's op-ed titled "The problem with Obamacare."

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