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Friday, March 04, 2005

A Sobering Thought

Ed Parkhurst, friend, erstwhile business partner, and head of the hospital consulting firm Prism is plugged into a quoting service and periodically sends me some of the more pithy ones on health care. Recent quotes came out of a discussion at the Employee Benefits Research Institute (EBRI) on the subject of controlling health costs and improving quality.

Commenting on the day’s debate, Jim Bentley, Senior Vice President for Strategic Policy Planning for the American Hospital Association commented that public policy, regulation and even legislation by Congress have had little success in stemming the steady rise of health care costs. Instead, he argued, much of what is claimed as spending reductions are only reallocations to other sectors: “A lot of people who look at cost control are really just looking at cost shifting, from somebody to somebody else," he said.

Another quote, this one attributed only to the EBRI brief, is as follows:

"The quest for a better health care system is a process that has no end. The challenge lies in creating a climate where there is momentum to fuel the continuing quest for progress. A major challenge is that the health care system is extremely fragmented. Trying to fix separate parts of the system, rather than approaching it as a whole, seems destined to failure."

So it seems that the entire system needs fixing but government can’t do it.

A sobering thought.

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