“Doctors call for end to five cancer tests, treatments”

Tom Emerick

Posted 4/6/12 on Cracking Health Costs

So reads the headline in a Reuters story on April 4, 2011.

Let’s linger on the notion that they are exposing procedures that are “harmful” yet “routinely prescribed.” Giving harmful care to cancer patients is not rare, but “routine”. The words immoral, unethical, unscrupulous, and venal come to mind.A private task force was led by Dr. Lowell Schnipper, a cancer physician at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. The task force was organized by the American Society of Clinical Oncology.  The goal was to “…to identify procedures that do not help patients live longer or better or that may even be harmful, yet are routinely prescribed.” [Italics mine.]

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An Important Article in the New York Times

Today’s NY Times has a terrific op-ed by Rita Redberg MD, a Professor of Medicine at the University of California in San Francisco, that clearly describes the massive waste that occurs in Medicare (and the rest of health care) from incentives for care services that have no basis in evidence. The article provides concrete examples of blatantly unnecessary or incorrect services that have become commonplace and immensely costly, without clinical benefit.

Dr. Redberg has an interesting bio. A Cardiologist, she is Chief Editor of Archives of Internal Medicine. Even more provocative, she “has spearheaded the journal’s new focus on health care reform and “less is more”, which highlights areas of health care with no known benefit and definite risks.

Please read today’s piece and then rebroadcast to your professional network. In it, Dr. Redberg has encapsulated the core of America’s health care cost crisis. Appreciating this reality is the predicate to changing health care and its threat to the larger American economy.

Demography is Destiny

Austin Frakt

First published 5/10/11 on The Incidental Economist

There is an often-repeated claim that retiring baby boomers have a lot to do with future increases in federal spending, which is itself dominated by Medicare spending. There is something to it, but not as much as one would think. This graph, produced by Peter Orszag, shows it:

Medicare Spending

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