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Newt Gingrich’s problematic past support of. . .evidence

By Ezra Klein,

Jonathan Cohn offers another example of an idea that was conventional wisdom among Republican policy wonks when Newt Gingrich supported it but has since become a much-loathed initiative associated with the Obama administration:

The title of the article was “How to Take American Health Care from Worst to First” and it was actually a collaboration by Gingrich, Kerry, and Billy Beane. If you follow baseball or read (or saw) Moneyball then you are familiar with Beane. He’s the revered general manager of the Oakland Athletics who helped pioneer the use of “sabermetrics.”
Over time, Beane was able to get better players for the A’s, at a cost his financially limited team could afford, by using more finely tuned statistics. And in the Times op-ed, the writers suggested that doctors and hospitals could apply a similar approach to medical care, using statistics to provide treatments that did more for less money. The only problem, Gingrich and his collaborators pointed out, was the lack of good data.

The Affordable Care Act created the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to gather that data. But it’s fair to say the conservative movement has not exactly given it a standing ovation:

The Wall Street Journal editorial page, for example, has said that “political comparative effectiveness isn’t about informing choices. It’s really about taking away options.” That was nuanced compared to what Mike Huckabee wrote in his book: He said that the initial funding for comparative effectiveness studies, which was “tucked away into” the Recovery Act, had “planted the seeds from which the poisonous tree of death panels will grow.”

And speaking of death panels, it turns out Gingrich was there, too: in 2009, he endorsed end-of-life directives as a way for Medicare to save money.

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