While the arrival of summer has many of us slowing down to a more leisurely pace, in Washington, the debate on health care reform is quickly shifting into overdrive. Several Congressional committees have taken up consideration of health care legislation, with the goal of having completed mark-ups of legislation prior to the July 4th recess. For those looking for a better handle on some of the key ideas and issues driving the health care debate, here are a few suggested readings to peruse online or download for those quiet hours on the beach:
- Atul Gawande’s recent New Yorker article, “The Cost Conundrum”, has been widely cited by policy experts and policymakers alike, including President Obama in his major speech to the American Medical Association. Gawande uses the example of McAlester County, Texas to show that higher spending on health care isn’t correlated with better health outcomes. Gawande makes the case for a system of delivering care in which doctors collaborate to increase prevention and improve the quality of care in a cost-effective manner, as is occurring currently at the Mayo Clinic and several other innovative locations across the country.
- Gawande and others, notably Obama Budget director Peter Orszag, have been strongly influenced by the Dartmouth study that demonstrates the great variation across regions in Medicare spending and calls for comparative effectiveness research as a major strategy for containing health care costs (see our related blog post on this subject).
- For a good lay-person’s introduction to the key terms and concepts in the health care reform debate, see the briefs compiled by the Kaiser Family Foundation or the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.
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