Thursday, September 3, 2009

Money-Driven Medicine - Money for Nothing? No Chicks Included

He's complaining of vomiting blood. It's been going on for a month so it's not really considered an emergency anymore. It's considered a chronic problem, but we get a lot of patients like that, that the emergency department is the only place they know they can go to, to maybe address their problem.

He didn't have the luxury of having a primary care provider, which is a luxury in this country, which is kind of sad. We're like the richest country, you know, and a lot of our people don't have doctors so they use the emergency department in order to see a physician.

I've thought for some time that more attention should be paid to what is actually making the costs of health care increase so much (creating this society-riven protocol), after all, something has changed dramatically from when I was covered when I was growing up by only my Father having to work one job long, long ago (medieval times in insurance history). Could it be:

  • Payments to providers?
  • Big Pharma's cost increases (or CEO pay levels)?
  • Increased need from the formerly healthy (due to suborned environments, lack of health care, etc.)?
  • Increased greed (at all levels)?

The response of the doctors to these questions mirrors the response of my own doctor back in the early 90's who expressed huge dissatisfaction at how his role had changed from care-giver to care-decider and -denier.

Bill Moyers on his Journal last Friday night (Money-Driven Medicine - The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much) raised the curtain quite a bit. I hope you can click on the link and view the whole presentation. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)

Editor's Note: Maggie Mahar's book, Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much (HarperCollins, 2009), forms the basis for a new documentary by Alex Gibney, an Academy Award-winning filmmaker (Taxi to the Dark Side, Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room.) The film, Money-Driven Medicine aired on Bill Moyers Journal on Friday. Warning: it will make you really, really mad. Mahar, who covered finance for Barron's, began her research by randomly calling doctors to get their side of the health-care story. To her surprise, nearly all of them (most of whom did not know her) called her back - so eager were they to ring the alarm on a system they see as having strayed far from its mission. The filmmakers are making this presentation available to community groups, high schools and public libraries for a reduced price, and are providing resources for using the film to jump-start discussions and debates about health care reform. For more about the film, go to the Money-Driven Medicine Web site. Bill Moyers: Welcome to the Journal. The world of medicine has changed radically since I was a kid in East Texas. Back then, Dr. Sam Tenney made house calls for a couple of bucks a visit. Dr. Granbury raced to a patient's side with such speed you could hear his tires screeching around the courthouse square blocks away. And if you needed a prescription, Dr. Wyatt would offer to drop it off at your door on his way to the hospital - a non-profit community hospital, by the way, run by civic-minded citizens who counted every penny. If any of them were around today, they would surely marvel at our high-tech medicine. But as prudent folks, they would also marvel - in a horrified way, I think - at the cost of it all. How did we get here? Maggie Mahar wanted to find out. She's one of our best financial journalists - now, after years of research, she has written:Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much. During their summer recess, if every member of the House and Senate would read it before returning to Washington, the outcome of the health care debate might be very different. In this broadcast we will share with you a film based on Maggie Mahar's work. The book and the film couldn't be more timely as our country wrestles with what to do about money-driven medicine.

Bill Moyers is president of the Schumann Center for Media and Democracy.

Maggie Mahar is a fellow at the Century Foundation and the author of Money-Driven Medicine: The Real Reason Health Care Costs So Much (Harper/Collins 2006).

Click on the link (please). Suzan ______________________

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