Sunday, September 09, 2012

Cost and Culture 

In order to do something meaningful about the cost of health care, it is necessary for the culture to change first.   

A vivid example is provided by the feature article on the front page of the August 8 issue of the Omaha World Herald. 

The Nebraska Medical Center is the teaching hospital for the University of Nebraska’s medical school, both located in Omaha.  The Medical Center wants to build a new $323 million cancer center and wants Omaha and the local county (Douglas) to contribute $40 million of that.  One suggestion is to fund part of the city’s portion with a new tax on cigarettes.  Another is for the county to devote its share of inheritance taxes to the project. 

Advocates of the project talk about economic development, jobs, benefits to the community, and the need for the Medical Center to remain competitively strong.  Opponents suggest that there are other, more pressing needs for public funds, like paying down the city’s $500 million of debt and financing its pension plan which is underfunded by $600 million, an upcoming $2 billion sewer project, and roads in need of repair. 

But the cultural imperative of financial support for health care is so strong that the project looks likely to be done.  County board chairman Marc Kraft is quoted as calling it a “fantastic project” and indicates that he will vote for it.  Board member Clare Duda was quoted as saying “I think I have to vote for it, even though it really bothers me to put inheritance tax dollars toward economic development.  The county does not do economic development.”  

Given the national alarm about the subject, one would think that someone might ask how the project would affect the  high and rising cost of health care.  Or how the new facility would allow better care to be provided at lower cost.  Some curious soul might also ask about the adequacy of existing cancer care facilities and whether new ones are needed.

We may get there some day, but we’re not there yet.

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?

FREE counter and Web statistics from sitetracker.com