The New York Times wrote a piece on Monday titled, “Health Care Fixes Backed By Harvard’s Experts Now Roil Its Faculty.” Complaints from Harvard must have reached editors at The Times by Tuesday because the title has been changed to the less embarrassing “Harvard Ideas on Health Care Hit Home, Hard.” Regardless, the world is left to conclude that a lot professors at Harvard were never taught basic economics.
The New York Times reported Jan. 5:
For years, Harvard’s experts on health economics and policy have advised presidents and Congress on how to provide health benefits to the nation at a reasonable cost. But those remedies will now be applied to the Harvard faculty, and the professors are in an uproar.
Members of the Faculty of Arts and Sciences, the heart of the 378-year-old university, voted overwhelmingly in November to oppose changes that would require them and thousands of other Harvard employees to pay more for health care. The university says the increases are in part a result of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act, which many Harvard professors championed. …
“Harvard is a microcosm of what’s happening in health care in the country,” said David M. Cutler, a health economist at the university who was an adviser to President Obama’s 2008 campaign. But only up to a point: Professors at Harvard have until now generally avoided the higher expenses that other employers have been passing on to employees. That makes the outrage among the faculty remarkable, Mr. Cutler said, because “Harvard was and remains a very generous employer.”
In Harvard’s health care enrollment guide for 2015, the university said it “must respond to the national trend of rising health care costs, including some driven by health care reform,” in the form of the Affordable Care Act. The guide said that Harvard faced “added costs” because of provisions in the health care law that extend coverage for children up to age 26, offer free preventive services like mammograms and colonoscopies and, starting in 2018, add a tax on high-cost insurance, known as the Cadillac tax.
The irony is almost too much to bear. Before Obamacare was implemented, the “rubes” who were not Harvard-educated tried to explain the economics of it all, but they were laughed at on cable television shows by the “cultured” elite. Now a bunch of tenured professors at Harvard who pull in six-figure salaries are complaining about having less disposable income for Michelin-star restaurants. Hurrrrm.
The reaction of Harvard faculty brings into better focus who Obamacare’s key architect, Jonathan Gruber, was talking about when he joked about the “stupidity” of the American voter.
“This bill was written in a tortured way to make sure CBO did not score the mandate as taxes. If CBO scored the mandate as taxes, the bill dies. So it’s written to do that. In terms of risk-rated subsidies, if you had a law which said healthy people are going to pay in — it made explicit the healthy pay in and the and sick people get money — it would not have passed. Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really, really critical for the thing to pass.” — Jonathan Gruber, MIT professor and Obamacare architect
The American people aren’t stupid, but Harvard professors are stupidly partisan. The American people overwhelmingly knew that something didn’t smell right about The Affordable Care Act, but partisan politicians, talking heads on the majority of cable news outlets, and influential pundits did whatever they could to hide the consequences that would follow upon the implementation of the Obama administration’s plans.
Moms and dads who work long days at full-time jobs before having to cook dinner for the kids and get everyone to soccer practice rely on the media to honestly cover public policy proposals. Americans have good “gut” instincts, but they rationally turn to experts to fill in the knowledge gaps that will exist when someone dedicates his life to welding or plumbing instead of managing hedge funds or hobnobbing with Harvard professors.
It’s a good bet that the cable guy who knows basic economics will have a better grasp of the issues than the pseudo-socialist Harvard professor who teaches Gender Studies — but the cable guy sadly doesn’t get asked to go on Sunday morning talk shows. In the future, look for the individuals in your life who understand basic economics and put more intellectual stock in their opinions than the chortling pundits on prime time cable news. You’ll be glad you did.