Sunday, December 17, 2006

High-Speed Health Care

A New England Journal of Medicine report shows many doctors perform colonoscopies, spend less than six minutes and fail to find potentially dangerous growths.

This may be due less to physicians’ incompetence than pressures from their partners, the health insurers, to put patients on a souped-up assembly line.

Does it make sense to keep spending twice as much per capita for health care as any other nation and getting less because HMOs and insurance companies siphon off one out of every three dollars for their paperwork and profits?

There is growing clamor for reform across the political spectrum--from Newt Gingrich’s Center for Health Transformation, which stresses new technology, to Physicians for a National Health Program, which wants a public or quasi-public agency to oversee financing while delivery remains private.

When the Clintons tried in 1993, outcries over “socialized medicine” derailed them.

Since then, costs have ballooned, and coverage has shrunk. While we talk incessantly about life and death in Iraq, the casualties at home keep mounting. The next Congress should do something about both.

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