Big Cost Savings in Health Care Possible, Authors Say

Jan 04, 2010, 11:34 ET from Issues in Science and Technology

DALLAS, Jan. 4 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The United States could cut its per capita health care spending by double-digit percentages if it took full advantage of the cost-cutting tools now available, according to an article in the Winter 2010 Issues in Science and Technology.

Unfortunately, say authors Arnold Milstein and Helen Darling, neither the House nor the Senate health care bills come close to doing this. Milstein and Darling were participants in the Institute of Medicine's (IOM's) Roundtable on Evidence-Based Medicine.

"The IOM's series of roundtables provided ample evidence that the biggest barrier to progress is not lack of effective waste-trimming tools," the authors write. "Rather, it is the vulnerability of elected officials to accusations of impairing a service that is both consciously and unconsciously equated with protection from death and suffering. We can and must navigate through this political minefield so that we can accelerate efforts to produce better U.S. health care at a lower cost."

Also in the Winter 2010 Issues:

Perennial Grains: Food Security for the Future. Authors Jerry Glover of the Land Institute and John Reganold of Washington State University write that developing perennial versions of our major grain crops would address many of the environmental limitations of annuals while helping to feed an increasingly hungry planet.

Calming Our Nuclear Jitters. Ohio State University's John Mueller writes that an exaggerated fear of nuclear weapons has led to many wrongheaded policy decisions. "Nuclear weapons," he argues, "have had at best a quite limited effect on history, have been a substantial waste of money and effort, do not seem to have been terribly appealing to most states that do not have them, are out of reach for terrorists, and are unlikely to materially shape much of our future."

Changing Climate, More Damaging Weather. By failing to account for the effects of climate change, long-term projections of extreme weather are providing dangerously inaccurate guidance write Robert Repetto of the UN Foundation and Robert Easton of the University of Colorado at Boulder.

The Winter 2010 Issues also features an article on how academic research could be better used in setting homeland security policies.

ISSUES IN SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY is the award-winning journal of the National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine, and the University of Texas at Dallas.

Contact: Kevin Finneran 202-965-5648

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