Tom Friedman on One of Obamacare’s Unexpected Side-Effects: Capitalism

Although I remain agnostic about whether health care reform (at least in its current manifestation) will ultimately prove successful, thoughtful pieces like this most certainly add a constructive element to the debate. Friedman’s basic point here isn’t whether the program does or doesn’t work - Rather, he went out into the field and discovered that it’s already creating an entirely new industry of “Information Entrepreneurs” whose businesses are helping doctors, hospitals and employers prepare for the law’s soon-to-be implemented electronic record-keeping requirements (among other things – such as preventive medicine and a host of compliance procedures aimed at reigning in wasteful spending). My initial thoughts: (1) I suddenly find myself remembering that “The Individual Mandate” was originally a Republican idea designed to promote individual responsibility and decrease taxes (primarily by limiting expensive Medicaid-funded emergency room visits); and (2) Critics who claim Obamacare is “socialism” – in addition to purchasing a dictionary and turning to the “S” section – should ponder what seems to be a very real and growing contribution to capitalism. Oh – and last time I checked, individidual responsibility, cutting spending, lower taxes, and expanded small business growth are CONSERVATIVE ideas . . . Is the real story here that President Obama has actually been stealing some of our greatest hits?

From the piece: “Ninety days later, entrepreneurs showed up and demonstrated more than 20 new or upgraded apps they had built that leveraged open data to do everything from helping patients find the best health care providers to enabling health care leaders to better understand patterns of health care system performance across communities, said [Todd Park, the White House’s chief technology officer]. In 2012, another ‘Health Datapalooza’ was held, and this time, he added, ‘1,600 entrepreneurs and innovators packed into rooms at the Washington Convention Center, hearing presentations from about 100 companies who were selected from a field of over 230 companies who had applied to present. Most had been started in the last 24 months.'”

[“Obamacare’s Other Surprise,” Op-Ed, The New York TImes, 5/26/2013]

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