Monday, January 10, 2011

Health Reform JobBoning

You have never heard of the word “JobBoning.”

Why not? Because I just made it up. It is a variation of “JawBoning,” meaning the use of the jawbone of an ass to slay your opponents, or using strong persuasion by politicians or businessmen to sway someone to comply voluntarily with your point of view.

JawBoning, or in this case, jobBoning, is also called arm twisting, or sometime fact twisting.

JobBoning is currently being displayed in the current debate as to whether health reform, or its repeal, creates jobs.

• Obama officials and their political allies insist health reform will create more jobs, because it pays for 32 million more government-paid patients, creating jobs in the health care sector to supply jobs and medical supplies for the previously uninsured.

• Health reform proponents maintain health reform is a “job killer” because it will shut down hospitals and create $500 billion in new taxes for businesses and bureaucratic expenses in meeting new regulations, thereby decreasing their incentives to hire.

Both sides are right. In an aging population, with entitlement expectations, U.S. health care jobs will be created.

The realities are these:

Hospitals created 50,100 jobs in 2010, doubling the rate of job creation from 2009. The entire healthcare sector created 265,800 jobs.

Health care employed 13.9 million people at the end of 2010, including 4.7 million jobs at hospitals, 6 million jobs in outpatient ambulatory services, and 2.3 million jobs in physicians' offices.

For December, the health care sector recorded 35,700 payroll additions, including 8,000 hospital jobs. However, ambulatory healthcare services continues to drive health care job creation, with 20,600 payroll additions in December, and 160,200 payroll additions recorded in 2010.

Health care has provided steady job growth during the recession and slow recovery, averaging 22,150 new jobs each month in 2010, and creating 827,200 jobs since the recession began in December 2007. In 2009, health care created 215,300 payroll additions, including 25,700 hospital payroll additions, and 138,700 payroll additions in ambulatory health care services.

The larger economy gained 103,000 jobs in December and the nation's jobless rate fell from 9.8% to 9.4% for the month as the number of unemployed people decreased by 556,000 to 14.5 million. However, the number of long-term unemployed - people jobless for 27 weeks or longer - was little changed at 6.4 million and accounted for 44.3% of the unemployed.

What to make of all of this?

I belong to the Margaret Thatcher school. She said, “My political philosophy in domestic affairs is founded on a deep skepticism about the ability of politicians to change the fundamentals of the economy or society; the best they can is to create a framework in which people’s talents and virtues are mobilized or crushed.”

The health care sector, including physicians, are mobilizing jobs based on virtue.