Orszag is convinced that rising federal health-care costs are the most important cause of long-term deficits. As a fellow at the Brookings Institution, he became obsessed with the findings of a research team at Dartmouth showing that some regions of the country spend far more money on health care than others but that patients in those high-spending areas don’t have better outcomes than those in regions that spend less money. If spending more on health care has no correlation with making people healthier, then there must be enormous savings that a smart government, by determining precisely which medical procedures are worth financing and which are not, could wring out of the system. “I spent several months in very intense study,” Orszag told me. “The reason that I wanted to go to C.B.O. was I thought that was one of the key bodies that could really delve into what we could do about it.”
Seems just a tad audacious, no? A giant federal bureaucracy will need to be created to guide us silly doctors through the complexities of diagnosis and treatment. Clearly, a centralized planning behemoth will be able to stay on top of the latest innovations and evidence better than anyone involved in the actual delivery of medicine, and subsequently facilitate the smooth, effortless transmission of the new paradigms all the way down the line to your local podunk hospital. At least that's what Peter Orszag thinks. Added bonus: reduced deficits, save the banks, and end the recession!