Tom Miller reflects on 50 years of Medicare . A slice:
Aside from the basic numbers of budgetary imbalances and continuing fiscal pressures, Medicare’s institutionalization as the dominant payer in US health care also has locked in the worst features of a costly and inefficient fee-for-service delivery system that still rewards providing more volume, instead of better value, in most health care decisions. The mismatch between Medicare’s claims on the economy and our political willingness to pay for them in turn has produced an ever-more complex web of reimbursement rules and health care regulations in response that are far more successful in hiding or transferring costs than in reducing them. Moreover, although elderly Americans achieved substantial gains in insurance coverage and financial security through Medicare, younger ones fared far less well.
As the Goldman economists reckon, then, U.S. inflation is lower than we think due to sharply falling, “quality adjusted” IT hardware and software prices — and thus real economic growth and productivity are higher. GDP growth might actually be close to 3 percent right now, which would be more in sync with what’s happening in labor markets and the tech sector. Oh, and it also means real incomes are growing faster than we think, which is why the economists are “skeptical of confident pronouncements” that American living standards aren’t improving as fast as they used to. By the way, new analysis by the Peterson Institute suggests  worker incomes have pretty much been keeping up with productivity gains. So perhaps more good news for the 99 percent.