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Posted by on Aug 13, 2009 in Health, Politics | 11 comments

Health Care Reform: Between the Shouts, Calls for Equanimity

Justin Gardner seeks some common ground, as do four physicians in an op-ed in today’s NYT.

The latter write that, in the debate over reform so far …

We have really discussed only two options: raising taxes or rationing care. The public is understandably alarmed.

There is a far more desirable alternative: to change how care is delivered so that it is both less expensive and more effective. But there is widespread skepticism about whether that is possible.

They go on to suggest it is possible:

To find models of success, we searched among our country’s 306 Hospital Referral Regions, as defined by the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care, for “positive outliers.” Our criteria were simple: find regions with per capita Medicare costs that are low or markedly declining in rank and where federal measures of quality are above average. In the end, 74 regions passed our test.

So we invited physicians, hospital executives and local leaders from 10 of these regions to a meeting in Washington so they could explain how they do what they do.

[ … ]

There is a lot of troubling rhetoric being thrown around in the health care debate. But we don’t need to be trapped between charges that reforms will ration care and doing nothing about costs and coverage. We must instead look at the communities that are already redesigning American health care for the better, and pursue ways for the nation to follow their lead.

Both items are worth a full and fair read, if (like me) you’re tired of Republican extremism status-quo-ism, but not ready to accept, hook-line-and-sinker, the solutions pushed by House Democrats.