A Ray of hope on health care…

As a Yankees fan from the Bronx, it’s weird to see the Tampa Bay Rays in the World Series, with the second-lowest payroll in baseball, especially given the enormous mismatch between the money the teams spend.

In health care, there’s also a mismatch between how much we spend, and the results.
Californian Billy Beane, the general manager of the Oakland As, co-authored an op-ed today in the New York Times on this subject, with the improbable duo of Newt Gingrich and John Kerry. Beane invokes the excellent book MoneyBall, which shows the power of statistics to make tough decisions, when they write:

Remarkably, a doctor today can get more data on the starting third baseman
on his fantasy baseball team than on the effectiveness of life-and-death medical
procedures. Studies have shown that most health care is not based on clinical
studies of what works best and what does not — be it a test, treatment, drug or
technology.

This is why we have fought so hard for better transparency, like in last session’s AB2967(Lieber), so we have better data on the cost and quality of the care provided by California doctors and hospitals.

Let’s be clear: some insurers inappropriately use “evidence-based” arguments to deny needed care and treatments (some treatments haven’t had full study, but still work); some policymakers use the lack of correlation between costs and outcomes as an excuse to cut, not recognizing the significant consequences (after all, the As or Rays in the Series is the exception, not the rule.)

But there should be no debate that we need much better information about the care we receive, and that we pay for. We’ll be back on this issue next season.
Health Access California promotes quality, affordable health care for all Californians.
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