Wednesday, October 06, 2004

One government using the market, another fighting it.

School vouchers in Milwaukee are reported to increase the high school graduation rate by 28 percentage points, from 36% to 64%. That's a 78% increase -- and just the fact that a graduation rate can be increased by 78% shows how dreadful things are to begin with. This is not bad at all, if it holds up. The study results are available through the link in the article reporting them.

Meanwhile, north of the border, the Canadian health care system in Ontario has reached a "secret deal" with doctors under which it will pay doctors to not prescribe the newest, most effective drugs. The doctors are to be paid $50 million if they cut drug costs by $200 million.

.... There is no indication whether the two sides consider the overprescribing of drugs a major problem ...

One doctor warned the deal means putting the poor and elderly who get free drugs through the program on cheaper alternatives, such as long-standing medications that must be taken several times a day instead of once. That can be risky, especially with the elderly, said Dr. Douglas Mark, head of the Coalition of Family Physicians of Ontario.

Conservative MPP John Baird (Nepean-Carleton) said [the] secret accord with the doctors is deeply troubling and raises "a huge ethical dilemma ... It's almost an incentive to underprescribe inappropriately." (Toronto Star)

Maybe it's just me, but the doctors' union and politicians getting together to divvy up the medical system's money in a secret deal that excludes patients like this sounds rather like the teachers' unions and politicians getting together to divvy up a school system's money with parents of students excluded from the deal, in a way that produces a 36% high school graduation rate. But I'm just an American, so what do I know? A more informed Canadian user of the system has some acerbic but perhaps appropriate comments.