Map of life expectancy at birth from Global Education Project.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Short cuts

It's probably just a coincidence, but it seems that every time I extoll reason and repudiate faith, I lose a follower or two. So this link probably won't help.

The Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute, described here, is an important component of the health care reform act. With all the excrement about the individual mandate going through the ventilator, it's gotten surprisingly little attention from the Grand Oligarchy Party. I say surprisingly little because here is the actual Death Panel, with names and everything -- the Board of Governors of PCORI.

The Affordable Care Act directs money to PCORI, in a way that Congress can't prevent without repealing the Act, to sponsor research into what works and what doesn't work so well in health care. And this is, of course, what the Republicans call "rationing" and "death panels." Believe it or not, their insane rhetoric was so intimidating that the Act explicitly forbids Medicare from taking into account anything PCORI finds out in making coverage and payment decisions. So we'll just have to trust doctors to keep up with the latest and do the right thing. Since something like 20-30% of medical spending is wasted, we can probably do a lot to constrain Medicare spending if they'll just pay attention. Good luck with that.

And here's some concrete evidence: The best way to cut health care costs is to improve quality. The fact is, we can spend less on health care and give people better care and better results. But every attempt to do that is met by Republicans screaming that Democrats want to put Granny on the ice floe, while of course that is precisely their own nefarious plot. We'll see if they can continue to get away with it.

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