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Discussing health care in a normal voice

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By Sherry Robinson

Civil discussions of healthcare reform are possible. I heard one just last week when three panelists took up the subject before a business group.

Jim Hinton, CEO of Presbyterian Healthcare Services, set the tone: “There are no villains in this debate.”

Daniel Derksen, a professor in UNM’s Family and Community Medicine Department and president of the New Mexico Medical Society, said healthcare reform is too important to be a partisan debate.

Bob Schwartz, a UNM Law school professor and expert on health law and bioethics, called for more consumer information.

All three talked about costs and waste.

If we could save even a small percentage on waste in the system, we could easily pay for healthcare reform, Derksen said. “We waste $210 billion a year on over-testing, another $200 billion on claims processing and $50 billion on defensive practice,” he said.

Last year Americans received half the world’s CT scans, which deliver 20 to 40 times the radiation of a chest x-ray, Hinton said. “We should remove the incentive to use CT scans and quit doing unnecessary back surgeries and prescribing unnecessary antibiotics,”  Derkson said.

It’s a matter of incentives. If a doctor treats you, whether you need it or not, he or she makes money.


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