Views on health reform: U.S. not getting value for its spending; Cutting doctors' school debt to curb costs

Published on July 21, 2012 at 12:31 AM · No Comments

Los Angeles Times: How To Cure U.S. Healthcare
When it comes to healthcare, Americans are not getting a lot of value for their money. The United States spends 17.6% of its gross domestic product, nearly twice the average of the nations in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development. But life expectancy in the United States in 2010, at 78.7 years, is below the OECD average of 79.8 years. The U.S. infant mortality rate is higher than in most developed countries -; it is higher than the rates in Greece, Hungary and Slovakia (Dalibor Rohac, 7/20).

The Wall Street Journal: Doctor Pay And Social Priorities
There is no scarcity of reasons for the growth of health-care expenditures. ... Yet another factor was left out of the equation. The United States is alone among Western nations in launching its medical school graduates into the world carrying sizable debt-;$158,000 in 2011, according to the American Association of Medical Colleges. Whatever we may yet do to reshape health care, this debt and the need of individual physicians to repay it will inevitably affect the system. If we are moving inevitably toward more and more "socializing" of how doctors are compensated for their usually exemplary professional labors, the question arises: Should we "socialize" the costs of creating the skills they bring to those labors? (John Schnapp, 7/19).

Arizona Republic: Doctor Treats Victims Of Health Care Politics
Politicians get to condemn sick people to death without ever looking them in the eye. Dr. Randy Oppenheimer doesn't have that luxury. "Most people have no idea," Dr. Oppenheimer told me. "Even medical people. They have no idea what the people I see are going through. I'm sure the governor has no idea what she did to all these people by kicking them off of AHCCCS. (The state's Medicaid program.) It's a death sentence. And it's not necessary. Even if you just look at the economics" (E.J. Montini, 7/19).

Denver Post: Health Care Reform, The Colorado Way
Whether the Affordable Care Act should be upheld, tweaked or repealed, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision on the matter isn't the first or last word on reforming health care in Colorado. In recent years, Colorado organizations and policymakers have explored many innovative approaches to improve Coloradans' health, health coverage and health care -; both in tandem with and independent of the Affordable Care Act. In many respects, our state is already ahead of the curve in health and health care (Anne Warhover, 7/20).

Boston Globe: Municipal Health Reform Yields Huge Savings
A million dollars goes a long way in a small city like Haverhill, and when officials announced this spring that the city had reached an agreement with its unions to save $1.1 million by moving employees and retirees into a cheaper health plan, it was a big victory for a municipality that had been forced to cut back services and furlough workers to pay for skyrocketing insurance costs. Stories like Haverhill's have played out in dozens of towns across Massachusetts over the last year, thanks to municipal health insurance reforms pushed by House Speaker Robert DeLeo and signed by Governor Patrick (7/20).

Boston Globe: A Word Of Caution On Massachusetts Health Cost Reform
The idea of legislators attempting to fix any kind of market should come with caution flags. A government plan to influence one of the biggest segments of the state's economy -; a last-minute compromise hatched behind closed doors -; makes me very nervous. There are certainly elements of a plan everyone can agree upon. Greater transparency in the incredibly opaque world of medical costs has to be a good idea. The list of agreeable details goes on, but not for too long (Steven Syre, 7/20).

CNN: Take Another Look At Health Care Act
I have argued many times that I don't think the Affordable Care Act does enough to contain costs. I still believe that's true. But let's not ignore the fact that it does a lot. ... You may not like these types of efforts. ... But there's a difference between arguing that you want different measures and pretending those measures don't exist (Aaron E. Caroll, 7/19).

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