Marmor pointed out that there are “two dramatically different ways of approaching Medicare.” One, he says, presumes that medical care is like other industries subject to market forces. The other relies on the experiences of other industrial democracies, which use the countervailing power of government to restrain inflation. “These are incompatible positions,” he explained, “and any reporter should be aware of how incompatible they are and to understand both.” The public needs to understand both, as well. NPR’s segment did not help.

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Trudy Lieberman is a fellow at the Center for Advancing Health and a longtime contributing editor to the Columbia Journalism Review. She is the lead writer for The Second Opinion, CJR’s healthcare desk, which is part of our United States Project on the coverage of politics and policy. Follow her on Twitter @Trudy_Lieberman.