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Is the health reform debate already over?

Most of the savings would come from what NEHI President Wendy Everett calls "greater adherence to practice guidelines," eliminating the differences between what doctors and hospitals in different regions prescribe.
Written by Dana Blankenhorn, Inactive

The New England Healthcare Institute (NEHI) is out with a report, supporting the Obama health plan, which says one of every three dollars we spend on health care is wasted. (Picture from NEHI.)

Most of the savings would come from what NEHI President Wendy Everett calls "greater adherence to practice guidelines," eliminating the differences between what doctors and hospitals in different regions prescribe. (UPDATE: The full report can be seen here.)

As Tara Parker-Pope notes in The New York Times, these differences can be insidious. "Whether it’s invasive back surgery, medical scans or expensive drugs, patients and doctors alike often refuse to believe that costly treatments aren’t worth it," she writes.

Consultants Oxford Analytica claims much of this is caused by having too many hospitals and doctors in some areas, and that "eliminating supply-sensitive care" should be a key ingredient in reform.

A critic of the plan at Forbes noted that the biggest problem is a shortage of primary care, and the Stimulus Plan has already done something about that.

A search begun at the HHS Recovery site identified 10 primary care centers being funded through the plan, within six miles of my house, all focused on low-income patients, such as the Oakhurst Medical Center in Decatur, Georgia.

The Administration has also indicated it may use budget reconciliation, which cannot be filibustered, to get its health and energy plans through Congress.

These additional investments do nothing to reduce the unneeded supply of care, but the insurance industry may be happy to cooperate on that by simply denying claims that violate comparative effectiveness guidelines.

In many ways, the health care reform debate is over, and change is already underway.

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