Monday, June 29, 2009

Energy & Health Care: Use Less

One thing I've been working on lately is trying to figure out which public policy issues I am most passionate about. It's impossible to be an expert on all issues, and it would be easier for me to have a successful career if I dive into only one or two issues (and leave the rest for extra-curricular enjoyment).

Crime, international relations, national security, and transportation are just some of the issues that I've been passionate about at one time (not sure if I've actually stopped with any of them actually). Two more recent issues I've been researching are environmental policy and health care reform. I just came across an article by TIME attempting to link the two. It's so simple, but I just really liked the headline: "The Key to Fixing Health Care and Energy: Use Less"

A key passage:

"In medicine, the idea would be to reward quality rather than quantity, to give providers incentives to keep us healthy and reduce unnecessary treatments, to encourage doctors and hospitals to promote a culture of low-cost, high-quality care. One reason the Mayo Clinic already provides low-cost, high-quality care is that it keeps its doctors on salary, insulating them from fee-for-service inducements to overserve; unfortunately, Mayo is hemorrhaging cash on its Medicare patients, because the current system penalizes responsibly conservative care.

Doctors don't get paid for thinking about a case or returning a phone call or explaining why an MRI isn't necessary; hospitals don't get paid when their discharged patients don't have to go back to the hospital. Our goal for our health-care system is not more tests or more doctor's visits or longer stays in the hospital — it's better health. But that's not what gets paid for, so that's not what we get."

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