Health Care Reform: What We Can Agree On

High costs hurt all of us—here's how we can cut them
By Matt Cantor,  Newser User
Posted May 13, 2009 1:54 PM CDT
Then-presidential candidate Barack Obama looks at some medications with registered nurses Kate Marzluf, right, and RN Amy Silbey, left, June 10, 2008, at Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.    (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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(Newser) – The issue of health care reform crops up regularly, then disappears—but now it may have a foothold, writes Karen Tumulty in Time. That’s because the focus of the issue is on the current system’s huge cost to everyone. Much of the spending may be unnecessary, and a consensus seems to be emerging: President Obama’s budget chief, Peter Orszag, notes four components of reform we can agree on.

  1. Health-information technology needs a push. Hardly any hospitals have “comprehensive electronic-record systems” that improve tracking of care and results.
  2. Comparative-effectiveness research—”drug A vs. drug B vs. some procedure,” rather than drug vs. placebo—must be implemented.
  3. Providers should be paid based on care quality. Currently, they can benefit from a “botched surgery” resulting in hospital readmission.
  4. “Prevention and wellness” must carry financial incentives: “It’s much cheaper not to get sick in the first place,” Tumulty notes.